6 Books You Should Read if You’re the Parent of a Teenager

6 Books You Should Read if You’re the Parent of a Teenager

6 Books To Read When Raising Teenagers, In No Particular Order

I was thinking the other day about all the information in my head about raising kids, teenagers in particular. I am a such a reader, that it is really hard to pin down my favorites, because I rarely meet a book that I don’t like.  We are all looking for answers, strategies, and ideas to try.  I tried to think about where I have looked over the years to help us when we were frustrated or upset, or just needing a few pointers.  When it comes to parenting, here are 6 of my favorite go-to books. (*affliate links are included in this post.)

1) Teen-Proofing Fostering Responsible Decision Making in Your Teenager I have to say that John Rosemond is my parenting mentor, guru, go-to guy!!!!!!!  I have every single book of his, or did have, because I have loaned out some and never got them back!  He is amazing.  No nonsense, but loving strategies that work.  He terms himself as a parent, as someone who uses “grandma’s law”.  I love him!

If you have toddlers, then Making the Terrible Twos Terrific was awesome, that’s the first book of his that I read.  I have recommended it hundreds of times to personal friends and families that I have come into contact as a preschool teacher.  

Teen-Proofing research was begun by him as a parent of teenagers himself years ago.  This is a great book to refer back to again and again, as are all of his books.  “Managing teens so they make self-protective rather than self-destructive decisions is teen-proofing.”  The book is full of real world examples that are simple to implement.  

2) This was a book that I had to read back when I was still teaching, long before I had my own kids, let alone teenagers, but it was so good that I held onto it.  On the back of the book, the blurb says, “…Dr. Seligman explains how to break an “I-give-up’ habit, develop a more constructive explanatory style for interpreting your behavior, and experience the benefits of a more positive interior dialogue.  These skills can help break up depression, boost your immune system, better develop your potential, and make you happier.”  Huh!  That’s a big mouthful, but really it means that you can learn how to talk to yourself in a more  positive way.  I had to read it, so I did.  It’s a bit text booky, but really interesting.  So, I do recommend it because it gives real life examples and you really can use the information to change your life for the better, which in turn will help your kids, your marriage, really all aspects of your life.  It truly might save someone’s life with some of these strategies.

 3) The Optimistic Child is a sequel to Seligman’s first book with children specifically in mind.  It shows the relationship between what children think and how it affects their lives.  “This book shows that learning the skills of optimism not only reduces the risk of depression in children but also boosts school performance improves physical health, and provides them with the self-reliance they need as they approach the teenage years and adulthood.”  

Again, a bit text booky, but so applicable!  I have tried to use many of the strategies with my kids in conversations over the years.  As I am skimming through to write this post, I am amazed at all the strategies that I could still use, and thinking maybe I will reread a chapter or two!  You can teach your child how to talk to him or herself in their heads.  It is amazing how negative we can be to our own selves.  This book and his first show how this is a skill that can be taught (and learned!)  both for adults and kids.  Try it:)


4)  The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch  Ok, this is a gem.  Pausch wrote this as a “last lecture” which many professors are asked to do imagining that it is the end of their life and wanting to share a great lesson.  He actually was dying, and it truly was his last lecture.  But, it wasn’t about dying.  His lecture and the book are all about LIVING.  I have read snippets and chapters out loud to my kids at bedtime, in the car on trips, in the middle of a teenage drama scene in our own house…  His words are great, and not to be forgotten.  Life is too short, so get busy!



5)  Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement This book is hilarious.  It is the journal of Wyma’s year of working with her family to get back to the real world.  She has a great writing voice, and I loved everything she had to say.  She breaks down each month’s goal into bite-sized chunks, gives advice to the reader about the ups and downs of living through this experience.

She has a blog called The MOAT blog www.themoatblog.com  (MOAT stands for A Mother of Adolescents and Teens) which I recommend.  She did a bootcamp this past summer with her Cleaning House goals in mind.  

I have 3 boys, and the last thing that I want a future daughter-in-law to say to me is that my son doesn’t know how to help around the house.  All of my boys know how to cook and clean, among other things.  It was nice to read her book for affirmation that I am not the only “mean mom” around!

6) the Homework Hassle John Rosemond  I told you that I was crazy about this guy!  This is again a book that we have gone back to again and again over the years.  Such practical and user friendly advice.  We have used many of his strategies, and I will have to say ALL have worked.  His advice is the type that you do a headslap and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?!”  

I’m a teacher, and I wish that I had known about this guy back when I was in my 4th grade classroom.  The main thing that I like about this book is that it helps the parent move the child to independence at school which leads to more success at school.  

Okay, so that is my list for your reading pleasure.  I always like to have a parenting book with me as well as a book for pleasure.  Actually, I’m such a book nerd, that I love these non-fiction parent-help books just as much, maybe even more than some fiction because they are so helpful.  It’s always good to feel smarter at the end of the day.  

Good luck, and let us know if you have any parenting books that you would recommend!

3 Ways Teenagers are the Same as Toddlers and Why!

3 Ways Teenagers are the Same as Toddlers and Why!

Toddlers Vs. Teenagers…Are they so different?

These girls will be teenagers soon!How are teens different than toddlers? 

My life today consists of teenagers.  But, I love to read about all kinds of topics including parents in earlier stages of this game called life.  I just read a blog post yesterday written by a mama of 2 preschool girls.  She has a darling family, and she is a great writer by the way, Jordan Hall and her blog is called A Sprinkle of Jo. Her post was about the annoying habit of toddlers using the word “mom” one million times a day and how it was really getting to her.  It was a great article because it was spot on.  I remember those days.  Those days when it’s a good thing your kids are cute (at least to you…most of the time…) or you might pitch them out the window!  They need you so much and want you even more.  (Note: Amazon affiliate links are included in this post).

Those days are gone now, sort of.  

When I was thinking about writing this post, I started to think how fleeting those toddler days are.  

For me, they lasted a little longer.  We have 3 boys, but they are spread out age-wise 7 years.  So, I was the mother of a toddler/preschooler for nine years if I start counting when my oldest was two until my youngest went to kindergarten.  Not so fleeting!  And, to add insult to injury, when my youngest entered kindergarten, my oldest had just turned 13.  So, I went from toddlers to teenagers in the space of one summer.  I had not realized this, and it explains a lot!

No wonder my husband and I are tired.  We have not caught a break from toddlers or teenagers for 18 years.  My oldest just turned 20, one less teenager, but, one week later, my youngest turned 13.  This means that we have 7 more years to go with teenagers.  I think I want to go back to bed…

Seriously, though, I think that parenting teens is just as exhausting as parenting toddlers, but it’s more of a mental exhaustion.  

–Toddlers have physical needs to be met.  

They are learning to do things for themselves.  Feeding them 3 meals a day, getting them to bed on time, and making sure that they stay active are the ways this happens.  Obviously, there are more things than this, but those are the basics.

–Teenagers also have the same physical needs.  

They have hopefully learned how to take care of themselves in general by now.  But, they are so busy, you still have to at least provide the food—just wait for those grocery bills!, get them to head in the direction of bed at an appropriate time, and encourage them to be active.  Again, this is a list of basics.

Teenagers togetherThe difference is that teenagers know things by now, and are much smarter, which makes the entire process more challenging because they’d like to be the ones in charge of themselves.  Toddlers like to be in charge too, but hopefully, with good parenting you have nipped that in the bud, and you might have some fairly peaceful years during elementary school.  Teens still need to be told, but this is a process which needs to be carefully navigated.

Make an observation like, “Your morning went really well yesterday.  Why do you think that was?”  Get your teen to think about things, to realize on their own, what works and what doesn’t work.  These “almost adults” will be leaving you soon, like it or not.  Telling them to go to bed isn’t helping them to learn anything at all.  This is a great way to start conversation with a teenager.  They can be a bit touchy, so try different approaches, even with each of your teenagers.  What works for one may not work with the next.  Keep trying though, that’s the key.   

Some of your parenting becomes suggestions and leading questions.  

“I’m heading to bed soon, what are you thinking?”  This, hopefully, leads to a decent conversation about what their next day holds.  This can be tricky, so be careful that it doesn’t turn into an argument.

Tone is everything with a teenager.

 I am really bad about forgetting this.  This is a bad mistake.  It starts everything off on the wrong foot.  Take a deep breath and start again.  There are lots of apologies on both sides, but we are learning.  I must be a slow learner since I already have a 20 year old, and I’m still saying, “I’m sorry,” a lot.

–Toddlers need structure in their days.  

This helps them to learn and feel safe.  A couple of good rules and consistency on your part with a pair of vigilant eyes at times, and you are good to go.

–Teenagers also need structure in their days.  

This helps them to learn and feel safe.  It just looks a lot different.  This is the time of driving, dating, nights out with friends, and all sorts of other adventures.  The thing is that they aren’t with us for all of these activities.  So, what are the rules?  How can you keep them safe?  I talk about the book, Teen-Proofing Fostering Responsible Decision Making in Your Teenager by John Rosemond, in another post.  He has great ideas for setting up this structure.

Here’s the thing.  You have to have rules, and they have to be firm, but flexible.  And, you CANNOT keep them safe.  This is the mentally stressful and scary part.  We, as parents, know all the things that could happen, but teenagers think that they are invincible, and just don’t think things through.  They CANNOT in fact think things through.  Brains are not fully developed until mid-20’s, and never is this more evident than when you are in the middle of a discussion with your teenager about why he needs to be home by 11:00 on a Friday night when he is 16.

Finally, both toddlers and teens have milestones in their lives.  

–Toddlers have some big milestones in their little lives.  

Learning to talk and walk, potty training, dressing themselves, feeding themselves, writing their names…These are just a few.  This is such a fun era as you watch your kiddos start to develop all of these skills.  These things hopefully all happen before kindergarten.  

–Teenagers also have some major milestones happening in their lives.  

Going through puberty alone is a huge event.  So, keep the lines of communication open while this is happening because this is a very confusing and overwhelming time in life!  You know the other big events:  getting a driver’s permit, getting the actual license, heading from middle school to high school and then to college or perhaps right into the working world.  All of this happens over a longer period of time than toddlerhood, but there is so much to figure out as they move through all of these events they need more time!

I guess my major thought on all of this, now that I have written this post, is that raising kids, to quote a cliché, “is quite a journey.”  I cannot tell you what your rules should be for your family.  

I will say that our rules evolved over time with our boys.  The main thing is trust.  We set rules and expect them to be obeyed.  Once they proved to us that they could be trusted, then we were open for discussion.  

We always told them to be aware that no matter where they were or what they were doing that they would be caught.  Maybe not at the time, but we would find out from someone.  This has been the case every time one of them would try to get away with something.  

The beginning of raising a child is busy and exciting and exhausting.  Rest while they are in elementary school, because the end is just as busy and exciting and exhausting but, in a totally different, but equal way.  

Support your fellow parents!

 No matter where they are in this journey.  We all need help and understanding all the time!  

Do you see any similarities in these two age groups?  Have any stories to share?  We’d love to hear them:)