Some of the best authors on the subject of parenting have books about teens. Many of the more recent ones treat the topic of teen brain development. John Rosemond is my favorite authority on parenting who doesn’t talk about brain development.
To be sure, the most important dynamic of adolescence is the final stage of child brain development that triggers all the changes that puzzle parents. Once adolescent brains kick into overdrive and teens start connecting the dots, kids want to figure out who they are, separate from their parents. In addition, the decision-making part of their brain is “under construction,” making them overly emotional and impulsive. If parents aren’t in control, helping the teen to learn good decision-making, the situation can cascade out of control, with disastrous consequences.
Parents need a concept for putting limits on teen behavior while at the same time encouraging independence and discovery. They need to know how to guide a teen with firmness and respect while he or she learns how the world works. No book addresses this core challenge better Teen-Proofing: Fostering Responsible Decision Making in Your Teenager (1998), by John Rosemond. With detailed example scenarios and on-target Q&A, he clarifies how to teach responsibility while applying the principles of appropriate consequences with a teenager. His first book to focus on parenting teenagers, it is preceded by seven prior books on parenting.
One of my favorite chapters is “Drugs, Sex and Other Cheap Thrills.” The advice Rosemond dispenses is unflinchingly realistic and practical. When asked how parents can prevent their teenagers from using drugs, he answers, “You can’t.” But parents can reduce the odds that they will by teaching them to say “no” to temptation, which he sees as a hallmark of good citizenship and which is effectively taught in the “Classroom of the Family.” There are no guarantees, he claims. Kids make mistakes, and they can learn from them. He says, “Good parenting is doing the right thing when a child does the wrong thing.”
Passive, permissive parents will not enjoy this book. It doesn’t encourage them to become best friends to their teens or to help their teens be considered “cool” by giving them whatever they ask for.
Copyright © 2012, Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D.