I'm not a big consumer of parenting books. I've owned four copies of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" over the years, all gifted, and all given away without being read. So much of what we need to know regarding sleep, feeding, bathing, and play with babies is a click away on the internet. As kids grow into adolescents, the problems aren't as simple as being hungry or over-tired. Our children are processing emotions and navigating social situations that they've never experienced before. Our questions get harder, and the answers get longer. Bring on the experts! And by "experts" I mean the men and women who've done it. The victors who've been in the trenches, and after a long, hard road, have produced healthy, functioning, happy adult offspring.
Joani Geltman is that woman - the one you wish you had on speed dial for when you're sitting on your closet floor with a glass of wine at the end of the night, wondering what the hell just happened, and how you're supposed to deal with it. This isn't an option, obviously, but her book is a pretty great alternative. "A Survival Guide To Parenting Teens" is a book you'll keep in your night stand, or in the kitchen drawer, or in your purse (because we've all had those days, am I right?)
Ari Graynor is Joani's daughter, and wrote the foreward for the book. At first I thought this was a shameless name drop to attract young mothers, and it worked for me initially. I love Ari Graynor, and wanted a glimpse into her mother/daughter dynamic. Then I read it, and realized this had nothing to do with celebrity. This is a successful, happy young woman vouching for her mother based on her experience. When Ari said, "I used to joke that my friends were only friends with me to get to Joani. As we're now all over 30 and she seems to see them more than I do, I wonder if this was really such a joke". ..."My mom didn't try to be the cool mom. She was never more of a friend than a parent, but her patience, understanding, and presence, practiced in all the ways she outlines in the book, have not only made me who I am today, but have created and sustained the most important relationship in my life - my relationship with her". Wow.
This is what I want. In writing about my own experiences with my mother in recent months, I've struggled with this not being my reality. My mother's behavior drove potential girlfriend's away, because their mothers didn't want them around mine. I feel lost without that safe place, that relationship that trumps all others, that connection to life and the deepest love humans experience. Joani gets it, and is sharing it with us in the simplest way. Each chapter is specifically titled so that you can flip directly to your current dilemma without having to fish through fluff:
Why don't boys talk?
The bad seed friend.
Cleaning up Facebook and Twitter posts.
Keeping your teen dressing like a teen.
Each chapter starts with "Here's the Problem", then "Why It's a Problem" (which is my favorite, because it helps us understand), and finally "Here's the Solution". Ms. Geltman isn't talking to you like a Ph.D. She uses humor and straight talk to keep it simple and enjoyable. It's as if you're sitting at the kitchen table, coffee in hand, with someone who just happens to be an expert.
I've given away the books to readers in the last two book reviews I did, but you're not getting this one unless you buy it yourself ;) And I suggest that you do.
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