HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Surviving Your Adolescents: How to Manage and Let Go of Your 13-18 Year Olds, 3rd Edition
Author: Thomas W. Phelan
Illustrator: Rex Bohn
Publisher: ParentMagic Inc., 2012
Related website: www.123Magic.com (publisher)
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: For parents
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Phelan, Thomas W. Surviving Your Adolescents: How to Manage and Let Go of Your 13-18 Year Olds, 3rd Edition (published in 2012 by ParentMagic Inc., 800 Roosevelt Rd., B309, Glen Ellyn, IL 60137). If you are currently the parents of teenagers or even of pre-teens, do you think that you’ll be able to survive their adolescence? One of the basic problems which develop between parents and their teens is what author Thomas W. Phelan calls “The Snub.” Have you ever had a conversation with your teen like this? “How was your day?” “Fine.” “What did you do?” “Nothin’.” As a result of this, the parents become frustrated because the teen is not communicating with them, and the teen becomes frustrated because the parents seem to be prying. The parents begin to wonder, “I don’t know what to do with this kid any more.” This book is all about what parents should “do” with their adolescents and, equally important, what not to do. Phelan says, “Your primary goal is no longer to control your teen. Your goal is to help them become competent adults who leave home, establish new relationships, contribute to the world, and enjoy life.”
The first section, “Straight Thinking” encourages parents to appreciate what adolescence is like, recognize how their teen’s behavior makes them feel, and learn their new job description. The new job proposal has five pieces, and the next five sections deal with each of these pieces: “Don’t Take It Personally,” “Manage and Let Go,” “Stay in Touch,” “Take Care of Yourself,” and “Relax and Enjoy the Movie.” Phelan reminds parents, “Not taking your teen’s behavior personally is both an insight and a skill.” I like his approach to automobile use. “Without being haughty, explain to your kids that their use of your car, other than for necessities like school, is a privilege. It’s your car and you are letting them use it; they don’t have an inherent right to your automobile.” He mentions the “Four Cardinal Sins”—spur of the moment discussions, nagging, insight transplants, and arguing–that parents often fall into and makes suggestions on how to avoid them—sympathetic listening, talking about yourself, shared fun, and positive reinforcement. Also, he warns about becoming addicted to anger and promotes a program that will help moms and dads deal with their feelings about the rejection and risk problems, significantly reduce family turmoil, and protect teens and their communities from harm.
Phelan, who is a registered Ph.D. clinical psychologist and author of 1-2-3 Magic: Managing Difficult Behavior in Children 2-12, concludes, “Don’t take that Snub personally, stick to your House Rules, stay in touch with your teens and take care of yourself as best you can….We’d have a shot at enjoying the movie. After all, in the grand scheme of things, it’s really a very short film.” At the end of the book are an appendix on how to manage various specific issues and an index for reference purposes. While the book is not for children but parents, even some adults might like to know that the “d” and “h” words are used occasionally, the phrase “My God” is found as an exclamation, and the term “son of a b****” occurs once. As with other books on parenting, not every bit of advice will be applicable in all situations. Some people may not agree with certain observations, especially a few relating to sex and romance. For example, it is simply said that “Large numbers of girls opt for abortion,” but for many this is just not a possibility even to be considered for religious reasons. However, parents who are struggling with their teenagers all the time will find some clear and practical information that will be helpful to them.