A Therapist’s Favorite Books for Parents of Teens
Written by Lindsey Anuzis Gage, MA, LCMCHA, NCC
We can all agree that the teen years are hard, for parents and children alike. As a mental health therapist focused on supporting adolescents and young adults, I wanted to share a few of my favorite resources with parents that relate to general adolescent development, in addition to specific topics I see within my own clinical work.
Brainstorm by Dan Siegel, PhD:
Brainstorm is a wonderful resource describing the power and purpose of the teenage brain. Its content helps improve general insight and understanding into the developmental changes that occur between the ages of 12-24. Psychiatrist Dr. Dan Seigel helps parents make sense of their teen’s impulsivity, emotional expression, challenges with decision-making, and desire for independence and increased social connection. He helps parents to support their teens with ways to increase support and connection that work with rather than against these changes. Dr. Siegel has a few other books I would also recommend for understanding brain development in younger kids; “the Whole Brain Child”, “No Drama Discipline”, and “Parenting From the Inside Out”.
Middle School Makeover by Michelle Icard
Middle School Makeover is for those parents of kids who just started middle school. I am sure we can all remember how uncomfortable and uneasy those three years were for us. This book helps parents in navigating the changes to expect in their kids as they embark on this transitional time from child to teenager. Its helps foster connection while navigating new terrain with kids who are desperately seeking new found independence and privacy. Related to the topics covered in this book, Michelle also runs a leadership camp for Middle school aged kids, “Athena’s Path” for girls, and “ Heroes Pursuit” for boys.
14 Talks by age 14 by Michelle Icard
In this book, Michelle provides a wealth of knowledge that supports parents in navigating this monumental change, in addition to relevant problems and conversations to have at this time. This book is a wonderful guide supporting families with the emotional, physical, and social dynamics that happen in the early teen years. She writes in a comfortable and relatable way that helps normalize the challenges all parents face. She helps parents navigate ways to initiate important conversations with those resistant teens, in a way that not only invites knowledge, but increases connection as well. Topics covered in this book relate to navigating independence and identity development, relationships, hygiene, technology, impulsivity, criticism and reputations among others. She provides easy to remember tips on how to have these conversations.
Under Pressure by Lisa Damour, PhD
Under Pressure is a book that helps anyone who interacts with adolescent girls (parents, teachers, coaches etc.) understand the pressure and stress specifically impacting girls from school age through college age. Lisa Damour is a psychologist focused on supporting the mental health of teen girls, and their parents. This book incorporates relevant research and statistics related to the alarming increase in experienced stress and anxiety in girls. It takes a deeper dive into the impacts girls face on a daily basis, reasons for anxiety, increased stress, and never feeling quite good enough due to contingent self-worth. Damour helps readers better understand anxiety in girls, what it looks like, what purpose it serves, and where it comes from. She explores the way girls experience various aspects of life such as school, society, in relationships etc. I highly recommend this book!
Enough As She Is by Rachel Simmons
Similar to the message of “under Pressure”, this book helps parents understand the ever-increasing pressure that adolescent girls and young adult women face on a daily basis; from appearance and achievement, family focus and future focus, balancing both old and new ways of being. This is a phenomenal resource for parents to help support their girls in the high stakes and over achieving world we live in the Rachel Simmons explores various challenges related to self-criticism, contingent self-worth, perfectionism, stress and anxiety experienced in adolescent and young adult years. Success for a female today is not defined in the same way as it was decades ago.