Information for the parents of college students
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Book Review: A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens

From time to time, we like to review some of the books available for parents of college students.  There is a wealth of literature available to help parents cope with the transition to college and the changes that occur throughout the college years.  We’ve created lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone.  See our Resources and Tools page for suggestions.

This month we’re looking at a book that isn’t specifically about college parenting, but will be helpful to all parents as you live through those teenage years and prepare for the college years.  A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens by Joani Geltman is subtitled Talking to Your Kids About Sexting, Drinking, Drugs, and Other Things That Freak You Out.  Parents often do “freak out” as they approach the college years and this book may help them feel a little more comfortable.

Geltman is a psychologist who has both worked with parents for several years, but also taught college students.  She looks at teen issues and parenting as a professional counselor, a college instructor, and a parent.  We think this triple perspective is part of what makes this book so helpful.  Geltman’s style is down-to-earth, no-nonsense, practical and easy to read.

Parents may want to sit down and read this book cover to cover, but are more likely to find it a useful reference as they deal with the issues that inevitably arise throughout the teenage years.  The book has ten sections, and each section is divided into brief chapters or discussions on individual questions or issues.  Each section begins with “Just tell me what to do about . . . “ and then includes everything from broad topics such as raising a teen to more focused areas such as keeping my teen motivated and engaged in school, navigating the college process, helping my teen avoid the friendship traps, and drinking, drugs, cellphones, sexting and social networking.

Having difficulty with your teen? Survival Guide to Parenting Teens probably has a chapter covering the issue. Each chapter follows a similar format: here’s the problem, why this is a problem, and here’s the solution.

If you have a teen – or almost teen, take a look at Survival Guide to Parenting Teens.

About the author:

Joani Geltman has over 30 years of experience working with children, parents, schools and community groups.  She has a master’s degree in social work and is an expert in child development and parenting.  She presents her course, Adolescent Psychology- The Parent Version, to schools and community groups; hosts Ask the Expert gatherings for parents; and provides home-based coaching services.  She lives in the Boston area and teaches Psychology at Curry College.

What the author has to say about the book:

“I get messages all the time from desperate parents anxious for answers to the daily hassles they experience with their teens.  Which is why I wrote this book.  When you’re in a crisis with your teen – whether it’s a blow-up between the two of you that got out of control; school, homework, and grades that have become a daily battle of wills; or frustration over your teen’s cellphone addiction, Facebook use, or video games – you don’t have the luxury of reading a tome on teen development.  When you need help, you need help now! A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens is your 911 call.  It’s the “Hints from Heloise” of parenting books.  You read what you need, when you need it.”

“In response to the changing needs of families, I’ve had to totally change my model.  Now I do parent coaching short term, and I do mean short. Most times I see parents for only one session.  They tell me their problems, and I tell them what to do.  That’s my model.  Give parents the information they need to understand their teen’s behavior and offer them concrete strategies for intervention.  A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens is your in-home version of my in-person coaching.”

“Keep this book next to your bed, in your desk drawer at work, or in the glove compartment of your car.  The next time you get an annoying text from your teen, or a call from a teacher at school concerned about your teen’s missing homework, or an email from a parent reporting a weekend drinking escapade with a friend, pull out this book, get a plan, and exhale!”

What others have to say about the book:

“A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens is brimming with practical, useful advice; overflowing with humor and warmth; packed with wit and wisdom.  An easy read-through, but also a hugely valuable reference for those moments when you need help NOW.”

Edward Hallowell, MD, founder of The Hallowell Centers

“When it comes to our kids, how often do we all wish a parenting expert was right there telling us how to deal with each situation that stumps us?  The best thing about this book is we can look up the problem we’re facing and get a quick-fix answer.  Because honestly, as parents, who has time to read a whole book on this stuff?”

Sara Gilbert, mom, actress, co-host of The Talk

“Joani is down-to-earth, witty and wise – qualities that you will find in abundance throughout her wonderful book.  A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens reads like a conversation with a good friend who is right there when your teen is struggling with all the usual and unusual things that parents face on a regular basis.”

Dan Kiley, Director of Community and Cultural Program, The Fessenden School

“With honesty, authenticity, and authority, Joani portrays the full landscape of teenage emotion, angst, conflicts, and challenges that confronts teens and their parents.  Through insight, humor, real-life examples, and action scripts, Joani turns conflict into conversation, reproach into respect, and hassle into harmony.  As the parents of three boys, now grown men, we only wish we could have been guided by this superb book.”

            Marlene Linkow, Teacher, and Peter Linkow, President Emeritus, Work-Family Directions, Inc.

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