I must admit that I picked The Approximate Parent by Michael Y. Simon because although we are close, I was struggling to understand and communicate with my teen daughter, and hoped for some quick strategies. This is not what I found. Instead I found a wealth of information to enrich my knowledge on teenagers’ development process, which in turn helped me understand my daughter, and thus discover what could help us communicate.
The Approximate Parent begins with biological, psychological information about teenagers’ development, and differences between puberty and adolescence. I found this part a little intimidating at the beginning, but I encourage readers to press through it as I found it very useful in the understanding of not just the coming chapters of the book, but also with understanding some of my teen’s behavior.
After this first part, the tone of the book is less technical. Simon did a wonderful job combining the factual information of his remarkable research with his own conversational voice directed to parents, which allowed me to relate, relax and take in the information.
Each chapter handles a different Issue. It begins with understanding your teen, their identity and relationships, and teens and sex, which are the timeless teen issues. But it goes further as Simon continues with issues like parenting through the digital era, and teenagers’ mental health. Each chapter ends with a “Practical Help” section that readers can refer to quickly.
Simon took me from understanding that many of the responses from teens are not only normal, but they are to be expected, as they are part of their development. He destroyed my argument of “I was more mature at your age,” as he explained the fact that as humans we react to experiences in a very unique way because our genes and our experiences while growing up, do affect the way we develop. His chapter “Parenting in the Digital Age” is one of my favorites because as I read it I realized just how different teen’s brains work in contrast with how teens’ brains worked during the 70s, or 80s. Thanks to this chapter, it finally clicked in my head how different my development was in comparison to my daughter’s generation.