The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens is a refreshing take on parenting. Dr. John Duffy, family counselor, life coach and “top teen expert” (an honorific all the more remarkable for its near impossibility) proposes proven techniques to negotiate the ever-changing, seismic shifts of puberty and beyond. What is an available parent? One who encourages a kid to feel heard, understood, supported. Not as a “friend,” but as an effective parent. The author boils it down for us: “Our goal is to foster an environment that is most likely to provide a sense of competence and resilience.” And by focusing on our own behavior (which looks as crazy to our kids as our kids’ behavior looks to us) we can open the lines of communication, establish trust and try to balance fear with love and acceptance. Parental behaviors that don’t work make an all-too-familiar list, including lecturing, micromanaging, smothering, coddling, bribing, waiting and snooping. Luckily, the bulk of the book is all about what does work, along with insider tips and exercises to make us truly available.
July 14, 2011