If you have a brand new freshman, and are just beginning the crazy journey of modern high school, I bet you’re full of a combination of nerves, anxiety, excitement, and worry. And right along with that, you’re also fearful and kind of leery of what parenting changes to expect, and exactly what kind of teenager your teenager will be (and how your parenting may have to change or shift.)
Well, I hope your reading glasses are clean and shiny, because there is a tremendous information out there on parenting your teens and young adults. So if you have any extra reading time on your hands, get ready, because I have 15 must read books that will help you gracefully glide through these often tough years.
Note: We receive compensation from purchases made through the Amazon links in this post.
Must-Read Books for Parenting Teens
1. Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety: A Complete Guide to Your Child’s Stressed, Depressed, Expanded, Amazing Adolescence by Dr. John Duffy
Duffy is a nationally recognized expert in parenting and the author of several parenting books, as well as being a regular guest on NPR and the Today Show, just to name a few. His latest tackles the ever-growing problem and concern of adolescent anxiety and depression, the new social media environment teens live in, and how and when to recognize mental health issues and address them with your teen.
2. The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults by Frances E. Jensen, M.D.
In a nutshell, because of advances in neuroscience, we now know that teen brains are, well, NOT RIPE YET. This book explains in very accessible terms what all of that means for parents, and gives some best practices and advice for both parents and teens on how to manage their minefield of understanding and communicating successfully with each other. We interviewed Dr. Jensen here.
3. The Unofficial Guidebook to Surviving Life With Teenagers by Tiffany O’Connor
Ready to throw in the towel with your teen? DON’T. Just pick up this collection of funny, heartwarming, and brutally honest “parenting teen” essays from some of the Internet’s most talent writers, and get ready to laugh, cry, and say to yourself, “So I’m NOT the only one!” You CAN and WILL survive the teen years, you just need this book to help you do it.
4. Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by Lisa Damour, Ph.D.
If you have a teen daughter, hands down YOU NEED THIS BOOK. One of the most readable and down-to-earth parenting books, Damour’s award winning book on how to navigate the murky waters of raising a teenage girl is a book you will reach for again and again throughout the teen years. And Damour’s new book, Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls, also a New York Times bestseller, is also excellent.
5. Sex, Teens, and Everything in Between: The New and Necessary Conversations Today’s Teenagers Need to Have about Consent, Sexual Harassment, Healthy Relationships, Love, and More by Shafia Zaloom
If you’re wondering what the best way is to talk to your teens about sex, consent, and all things sexual harassment and assault, start here. Real life scenarios and great conversation starters can be found in this new release, and Zaloom, a veteran sex educator, presents them all in an engaging and very approachable way.
6. Getting to Calm: Cool-Headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens + Teens – Updated and Expanded by Laura S. Kastner, Ph.D., and Jennifer Wyatt, Ph.D.
From the authors of The Launching Years: Strategies for Parenting from Senior Year to College Life comes this new guide which helps parents deal with 14 of the most common hot-button situations that arise during the teen years. Eye rolling and disrespect anyone? Learn how to stay calm when your rage button has been pushed, and ways to manage your emotions so you can better manage your teen’s.
7. Feeding The Mouth That Bites You: A Complete Guide to Parenting Adolescents and Launching Them Into the World by Kenneth Wilgus, Ph.D.
This guide can be read by both you and your teen, and in it you’ll find practical tips for dealing with a variety of teen angst situations, including how your teen’s need and desire for autonomy is one of the most vital yet difficult things both of you will have to negotiate.
8. Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania by Frank Bruni
You’ll be amazed how early college talk begins in high school (even first semester of freshman year!) and while this can be a great thing, it can also be discouraging, anxiety inducing, and even a little toxic. Students needs to know that making a college decision because of alleged elite or top school status is in no way a guarantee of either future success or happiness. This is a book both you and your teen would do well to read together.
9. The Gift of Failure by Jess Lahey
The concept of allowing (and even encouraging) your student to fail is one that most parents need time and effort to process and let happen, but nevertheless, it needs to happen. Why? Because kids who never fail or experience massive disappointment, are ill equipped to succeed. Lahey lays out reasons for stepping back from all the ways you may be micromanaging your student, and provides advice on dealing with and helping your student when they do fail.
10. Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings by Ken Ginsburg
“Resilience” is the new buzz word on campuses, and many colleges across the country are implementing and requiring freshmen complete “resilience” training. Why? Because students are having a hard time differentiating between a regular everyday problem and a bad mood, from real hardships and serious mental health issues. This book will help you start early teaching your high schooler how to face problems head on, as well as how to develop confidence and bounce back plans when faced with everyday difficulties.
11. U Thrive: How to Succeed in College (and Life) by Alan Schlecter and Dan Lerner
Lerner and Schlecter know a thing or two about how to keep college kids happy, because they teach the popular “Science of Happiness” class at NYU. This title is a pseudo companion piece to that class, and by using humor, real-life stories, scientific research, and a bit of wisdom, they have succeeding in writing a comprehensive must-read book for all college bound students. Plan on reading this with your teen when they hit the fall of their senior year of high school. You’ll both get a great head start.
12. Enough As She Is: How to Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Healthy, Happy, and Fulfilling Lives by Rachel Simmons
All I can say is that I wish a book like this had been around when I was a teenager! Growing up female these days is a brutal task, as we are surrounded by perfection and a constant feed of unattainable standards all day, every day. Simmons shares her extensive research on the pressures that young girls face these days, and in the book offers solutions that include teaching girls self-compassion, how to resist overthinking, learning not to compare themselves to peers, managing social media, and how and when to ask for help and support when they need it. This is an important read for parents of teenage girls
13. How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Haims
Want to avoid being the high school lawn mower parent? Need to learn how to back off a little from over parenting but not sure how or where to start? Then you need this book. With practical and non-judgmental guidance, you’ll find viable solutions to help you let go from running the show, thus preparing your student to meet real world stress with confidence, an independent attitude and grit.
14. The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us by Paul Tough
If you’re interested in going behind the curtain of higher education, pick up this new release from the bestselling author of How Children Succeed. Tough takes a ‘tough’ look at a variety of modern colleges, from community college to the Ivy League, and examines everything from admission processes to social mobility factors among them. A fascinating and enlightening look at how we all “college” these days, and what and how a college opportunity can do to change our country.
15. Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults by Lisa Heffernan and Mary Dell Harrington
Saved the best for last! You’re reading this article on Grown & Flown so you’re already a fan, but this also means this book is MADE FOR YOU! Website founders and authors Lisa and Mary Dell, as well as several of the website’s regular contributors, have pulled together this all encompassing guide to raising teens. In it you’ll find raw, honest, witty, and informative essays that you’ll not only be able to relate to, you’ll relish them as little gifts to your teen parenting soul.
This is also an ideal title for your book club, and would be a wonderful option to read and explore with other parents of teens. Here’s where you can let Mary Dell and Lisa know you want them to visit your book club or school group.
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Trying to Be Perfect is Killing Our Teens and We’re to Blame