Teen mental health is top of mind for many parents, child psychologists, and researchers—not to mention teens themselves. With 25 years of clinical practice to back him up, clinical psychologist John Duffy addresses this important topic in Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety.
In the book, Duffy emphasizes that easy access to the internet and social media exposes children to a ton of ideas and material they aren’t necessarily ready to process at such a young age. Therefore, conversations that were once reserved for the teen years now need to start much, much sooner. The overall message is that the parent-teen connection is paramount in helping our kids survive—and thrive—during this messy, but necessary, stage of their lives.
To lend perspective, Duffy walks parents through the world of today’s tweens and teens while highlighting the stark contrast between current and previous generations. “The emotional weight of being a teenager in today’s world bears only a faint resemblance to our experiences as teenagers a generation ago,” Duffy writes. This harsh reality can make it difficult for parents to empathize as their kids struggle with issues they never had to face.
Divided into three sections—“Painting the Picture,” “Addressing the Issues,” and “Filling Your Toolbox”—Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety covers a lot of ground without dipping too far into any one area. The first two sections give readers a lay of the land and an overview of the obstacles along the way. The third section is packed with advice and insights on dealing with the issues raised in the previous sections, with emphasis on what Duffy calls the “Emotional Bank Account” that allows parents to connect more deeply with their teens.
Duffy keeps things current, but maintains a common-sense—and perhaps even a little old-fashioned—approach. He lobbies for bringing back our kids’ “awe and wonder” through new experiences, and he reiterates the tried-and-true connection between mental health and adequate physical activity and sleep. Filled with reassuring and thought-provoking anecdotes, Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety is a great read for parents seeking answers and inspiration.