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Teen Health Author: Staff Editor Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens

By Staff Editor
Aug 5, 2014 - 11:41:46 AM

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( - There are 43 million teens and tweens living in the United States.  How will parents raise them to be happy, healthy and successful individuals amid the challenges, dangers, and distractions?  Parenting a teen poses more danger and opportunities than when today's parent was a teen 20-30 years ago. Luckily, a new book helps the 21st century parent troubleshoot through the landmine of issues.

"There's a strange new creature living under your roof," says Joani Geltman, MSW, author of a new book, A Survival Guide To Parenting Teens: Talking To Your Kids About Sexting, Drinking, Drugs, and Other Things That Freak You Out (AMACOM, May 20).  "Your job now is to figure out what makes teenagers tick, and to steer them to productive paths - away from the lures and dangers of drinking, drugging, sexting, bullying, and other bad decisions."

From lying, hanging with a bad crowd, spending too much time online, and falling grades, the teenage years can be an uphill battle.  Her book is a no-nonsense guide you need to get your teen talking, listening, and acting appropriately. Geltman covers 80 areas of concern for those raising teenagers in today's hyper-sexual, super-social, non-stop digital environment, including these:

  • How to protect against the invasion of social media and its influence on your child's sleep, safety, social life, academics, and reputation.
  • How to discuss drinking, drugs, and other harmful substances and situations.
  • What to say when discussing sexuality, sexting, date rape, online predators, and sexual harassment.
  • What to watch for in regards to bullying, eating disorders, cutting, and depression.
  • How to help your child navigate the challenging, awkward, and sometimes violent moments of youth.
  • How to ensure your child is succeeding in school, despite the distractions of life - and on a path towards college.
  • How to show your teen how his or her attitude and actions have consequences - and how to hold them accountable.
  • A 4-step roadmap on how to argue and communicate with your teen.
  • How to avoid criminal behavior for your teen - either as perpetrator or victim.
  • How to plan for your partying teenager - whether inside or outside the house.

Cutting through teen drama and parental confusion, the book delivers fast answers and targeted solutions to dozens of behaviors that drive parents nuts.  Just locate the annoying or alarming problem you're dealing with, and you'll find a brief but insightful analysis of what your teen is really thinking and feeling, along with smart, effective advice on what exactly you should say and do.  By acting quickly, calmly, and knowledgeably, you can halt your teen's spiral, open up the lines of communication, and get them back into a positive, responsible, and respectful place.

"No kid is perfect, not even yours," adds Geltman. "Perhaps your teen is engaging in risky behaviors that are scaring the hell out of you, or he won't talk to you, or he isn't even trying to reach for his potential, or he's generally unlikable.  It's probably been hard to find the joy in the relationship.  Believe me, your teen gets your disappointment.  And when this disappointment feels pervasive in your relationship, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  ‘If my parents think I'm a loser, then I might as well start being a loser!'  It's important to break the cycle."

Geltman is a leading parent expert, with four decades of experience in working with youth, including as a psychology professor, school counselor and social worker, a family therapist, and a parenting coach.  She holds a Masters degree in social work from Washington University and has been quoted or published by USA Today, Psychology Today, Boston Globe and The Washington Post.  She's also a successful parent, having raised Ari Graymor, a movie actress who is starring in the new CBS television series, Bad Teacher.

She addresses everyday topics that concern parents, including:

  • Is my daughter's fashion stylish or slutty?
  • Does my son know his FB post about partying antics can be seen by college recruiters?
  • What are my kids doing online - and who are they interacting with?
  • Why do I feel I'm in a power struggle with my child, as if always walking through a landmine?
  • How do I talk to my teen about anything without being met by sarcasm, anger, dismissive tones, laziness, evasiveness, entitlement or self-absorption?
  • How do I show the consequences to my teen's behavior and hold him or her accountable without alienating them?
  • How do I handle a teen with a messy room, an obnoxious attitude, who acts as if he doesn't want to talk to us, thinks he can do no wrong, is lazy and entitled, oversleeps, and misses curfew often?

Geltman's advice style is not filled with psychobabble jargon, but rather she comes across from the perspective of someone who has personally been through this and someone who professionally has helped others get through the teen years. She encourages parents to express an "I get it" attitude to their teen - and to let them know their parents can imagine what they are going through. Her insightful and helpful guide reveals just what teens are thinking, saying, doing, and feeling - and seeks to inform and enlighten, even scare, the parents about the developmental and societal factors influencing their child's behavior. Geltman knows these are hot-button subjects and parents need some hand-holding. She writes with honesty, a dash of humor, and a confident and reassuring voice, sharing realistic and proven approaches. Even when a situation seems hopeless or dark, Geltman shows parents a way to move forward.

Just as parents-to-be read What To Expect When You're Expecting, parents of teens need a supportive, insightful guide to nurture parents through the pitfalls of their child's toughest years and inevitably scores of challenging situations. A Survival Guide To Parenting Teens is just such a book.


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