Dad of Divas' Reviews: Book Review - The Available Parent

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Book Review - The Available Parent

About the Book
Today’s teens face challenges that we could only have dreamed of when we were their age. They have a barrage of media available to them at a rapid-fire pace. Relationships are different, bullying is different—everything is different for them. And they need their parents to help guide them through the morass. But for many families, that is precisely the time when children suddenly become unrecognizable to their parents. Kids who were once friendly now seem sullen, moody and distant.

In THE AVAILABLE PARENT: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens, Chicago teen therapist Dr. John Duffy gives parents a new strategy for helping their adolescents become competent, resilient, connected adults, based on his years as a family counselor. Dr. Duffy believes that it’s not teenagers who are unavailable. He believes that too often parents strike first with judgment, fear, anger and ego—and their teens simply react in kind.

THE AVAILABLE PARENT outlines clear, teen-tested strategies for transforming that dynamic. Available parents are open to loving, non-judgmental discussion, offering advice but not insisting that the child take it. They are unconditionally accepting and open to new and different ways of thinking. Available parents are self-aware, and keep their own emotions in check when dealing with their children. There are no limits to their availability, but they do not hover in an over-involved manner. Available parents recognize that they need to allow their children a wide enough berth to make decisions good and bad, and to learn from both.

Some of Dr. Duffy’s advice is counterintuitive and surprising. For example, Dr. Duffy thinks it’s important for teens to have boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. Recent research clearly indicates that teens take intimate and sexual relationships very seriously, and counter to conventional wisdom, this has proven to be just as true for boys as it is for girls. Many of Dr. Duffy’s teen clients have shared with him that these relationships can be a source of strength and motivation in their lives, often leading to better grades, and the development of life skills and emotional intelligence. An available parent allows for ample open communication with a minimum of conflict around relationships.

Unlike hovering “helicopter parents” and “Tiger Mothers,” available parents are not a constant presence in the lives of their teens and tweens. Helicopter parenting is a fear-based approach that robs children of this critical opportunity for growth and self-worth. Available parents realize that healthy children of this age need to experiment and learn from their mistakes.

If you remain available to your child through his teenage years, insists Dr. Duffy, you lay a foundation for a healthy, loving relationship with him in the years beyond.

About the Author
John Duffy is a clinical psychologist and certified life coach with a thriving private practice in the Chicago area. Dr. Duffy works with both teens and adults and specializes in helping parents maximize satisfaction and minimize conflict in their relationships with their teenagers. In addition to clinical work, Duffy also consults with individuals, groups and corporations in a number of areas, including Emotional Intelligence, stress management, balancing work and family, conflict resolution, goal-setting and the power of thoughts in bringing about change. Dr. Duffy's clients include Sears, Allstate, General Electric, Household Financial, Exxon Mobil, Accenture, Bank of America and Hewitt Associates.

My Take on the Book
I have read a number of books about parenting and about prepareing and working through the teenage years (Yes I am a bit scared about these years as they slowly approach). This book and Dr. Duffy's stance on how to best work with this population is a bit different than I have seen in the past. His approach, though different than I have seen, was quite interesting and seemingly will be easy to implement when the time comes.

I really enjoyed how Dr. Duffy shares his philosophy through many stories and case studies. You can easily place yourself into the situations and think even deeper about how you would react in the same situations.

For me, I know this this book will be one that I keep in my library and will be referring back to again as the teenage years get closer with my girls!

All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company.  Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Please refer to this site's Disclaimer  for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.
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