A creative approach to handling the teenage years.
This parenting manual uses both fiction and nonfiction to help parents navigate the trickier bits of raising teenagers. Chetty (Where Am I?, 2013), a medical practitioner in Australia, opens the book with a story about a conference of the Gods created to help these troubled children. On the first day of the convention, letters from anxious parents are read by the Gods. This fairly effective bit—the letters are relatable and written realistically—conveys stories about the traps in which adolescents can get caught: drugs, cutting, bullying, etc. The authors of these letters, mostly average parents, are clearly distraught and unsure of what to do. In turn, the Gods spend the next two days of the convention assessing the situations and offering suggestions. They essentially conclude that a lack of awareness and good communication often contribute to the breakdown between parents and children, although much of it is biological as well. That’s where readers get a taste of Chetty’s medical background and learn that adolescent brains do not fully mature until they are 25 or so, though there are certain tools that can be used to work around this. While the tools themselves are not especially new—clearing clutter from our lives, appreciating those around us, meditating, being creative and learning self-defense techniques—Chetty does take a very practical approach, which is helpful. “Look around your room,” she advises, “focus upon an item, and ask yourself, ‘Is this item important to my immediate experience?’ ” Though her language is clear and accessible, the story drags a bit, and the book in general suffers in part because its audience is not especially clear. It comes across as rather juvenile for either adults or disaffected teens. Those readers are unlikely to pick this book up and feel connected to it as a whole, although some individual chapters may be useful. In many ways, the better approach would have been to write a more straightforward parenting manual, one that doesn’t attempt to lure in older children with a fairy tale.
An insightful and well-intentioned, if occasionally lackluster, book on raising happy teenagers.