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Having trouble dealing with your teenage children? Try enlisting the help of a clinical psychologist

Having trouble dealing with your teenage children? Try enlisting the help of a clinical psychologist

This is a book about dealing with teenagers. I must declare an interest – I'm a parent of two girls, aged 14 and 17.

I wondered if the editor knew we were on a ‘no other parents do that' moment when he sent it to me.

The book is written by a US-based clinical psychologist and a London-based journalist.

It does not set out to give answers; just propose some explanations for teenage behaviour.

I enjoyed the presentation, with numerous illustrations of conversations between parents and teenagers, and of the ‘inner voices' underlying these conversations.

Few of the concepts will be new to GPs but the examples are thought-provoking. The authors draw broad distinctions between the behaviour of girls and boys.

I was relieved to hear that the conflict between girls and their parents is usually more overt but that this openness at least keeps communication channels open.

I liked the description of boys seeking to ‘achieve a state of perfect passive pleasure'. However, the authors point out that this withdrawal may be one of the reasons why the suicide rate in boys is four times that of girls.

There is an interesting chapter on the ‘immorality of home self' referring to the ease with which teenagers lie to their parents even if they are subsequently going to become law-abiding citizens.

The authors therefore suggest parents should accept teenagers obeying the spirit rather than the letter of the law - that approximately sticking to a curfew is better than having no boundaries at all.

The book is very recent so includes information about Facebook and other forms of communication and about current pressures about drugs, sex and school.

It ends on a positive note; teenage years do come to an end and for most of us if we hang on in there our support helps produce civilised adults.

4/5

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