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The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens Paperback – May 10, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"...a healthy dose of optimism and lots of practical suggestions."
—Publishers Weekly

"Every parent of a child or teen will benefit from keeping this wise book on their night stand. It's likely they will want it handy to read over and over again." — Judy Ford, author of Every Day Love: The Delicate Art of Caring for Each Other and Wonderful Ways to Love a Child

"Dr. Duffy provides a clear, straightforward, doable answer for parents: Stay in touch! Research clearly shows that an open, friendly parent-teen relationship is a major factor in protecting kids from harm. The age-old question for parents of teens has always been: ‘How do I relate to these new kids of mine—how should I manage them?’ The Available Parent provides a clear blueprint for a practical and effective response: Manage the problems you have to, but above all else, stay in touch!"
—Dr. Thomas W. Phelan, author of 1-2-3 Magic and Surviving Your Adolescents

"Dr. John Duffy's fresh new concept of availability in parenting is an idea that meets the moment. With the pace of society constantly accelerating, we need The Available Parent now more than ever! Dr. John's writing is smart, approachable and right on the mark. His blend of practical ideas and colorful examples delivers great insights. Most importantly, I am a better parent thanks to this book."
—Eric Langshur, Co-author of We Carry Each Other

"I couldn't put The Available Parent down because I found my inner voice kept saying "Yeah, that's right!" or "Oh, dang, I wish I had known that when my girls were teens." When I finished reading, I called my two daughters, now in their twenties, and asked them if my husband and I were Available Parents. They both reassured me that we were--and still are. John's a brilliant writer with keen intuition into how kids think and how parents can, sometimes unknowingly, sabotage their relationship. John has used his vast experience to provide parents with the inside dope into how kids view their lives, and what they really need from their parents to make the leap into becoming mentally healthy young adults. Best of all, John relays their amazing stories of growth in smooth, witty, and helpful prose. Any parent with a child--no matter what the age--should read and learn from this book.
—Eileen Norris, contributing writer and editor of the bestselling You: The Smart Patient by Drs. Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen

"What a true gift. This outstanding book truly gives you a blueprint to fully be available to your teen son or daughter. You will marvel at your teen’s sense of competence, can-do attitude, and improved self-esteem. Teens and parents are both resilient; with the tools provided in the remarkable book The Available Parent, you and your teenager can both enjoy your new and improve relationship."
—Dr. Kate Smart Mursau, co-author of Smart Parenting: How to Raise Happy, Can-Do Kids

"Every parent who wants to give it their best shot in working with, and not in opposition to, their teen, needs to check in with Dr. John Duffy, and apply his "available parent" strategy. As a professional journalist, author, and mom of three teens who writes about parenting, I was so glad to have found Dr. Duffy in time to give me the tools to quickly understand what it means to be an available parent. To my surprise and delight, as I intentionally make myself more available as a mom, my teens are now purposefully reaching out to engage with me! Dr. Duffy is a trusted guide and cool guy. He truly cares and is all about helping parents and their children find the bright light in each other. He helped to open a whole new channel of communication for me with my teens, and allowed me to appreciate their uniqueness and focus on that, instead of the moments that "challenge."
—Mary Beth Sammons, author of Second Acts That Change Lives: Making a Difference in the World

"John Duffy has written one of the most eye-opening parenting books around, an inspiring, important tool for all parents. From his expertise and experience working with teens, John gives us the key ingredient for a healthy, successful parent-teen relationship…. being The Available Parent. What a simple yet profound title, and what a rude awakening for me! John masterfully defines available parenting and helps parents stop the unhealthy dance with their kids. He gives excellent insight, advice and approaches to become the effective parent we desire to be. And throughout the book, he uses real life excerpts from teens discussing their issues so parents can understand what is really going on in their world. This is a must-read and is essential to building a healthy relationship with your teen."
—Megan Walls, CEC, ACC, Founder, Conscious Connections Coaching

"The Available Parent is a valuable and thought-provoking resource that’s filled with many precious lessons and gives parents a unique perspective on cultivating a healthy relationship with their kids."
—Psych Central

From the Inside Flap

From the foreword:

Suddenly, it seems, you are the parent of a teenager. It’s a role you
have looked forward to for several years with a good deal of concern
and apprehension. And sure enough, now that the job is upon you, you
realize it is a different world! Your formerly friendly son now seems
more sullen, moody and distant. Over the last few months your daughter
has apparently come to believe that her parents are out of touch with
reality. Where are these kids coming from?

As one mother put it, “My daughter went to high school her
first day as a freshman and never returned. I lost my baby!” Through
things like Facebook and texting, teens nowadays seem to spend their
entire days “wired” to each other. When they’re not connecting with
peers, they are surfing the Internet, playing video games or watching
TV. It’s as if there is no more room in their lives for parents.
Attempts to communicate at the dinner table, such as the notorious “How
was your day?” are met with curt responses like “Fine.” End of
conversation. Another attempt at pulling teeth has failed.

You feel hurt, rejected, angry and scared. What if my son
starts using drugs? What if my daughter starts having sex? What in
God’s name am I supposed to be doing with This Kid!?

In The Available Parent, Dr. John Duffy sticks his neck out
and offers a clear answer: As the parent of a teenager your top
priority—before anything else—is to stay in touch with your rapidly
changing youngster. Staying in touch is the essence of what Dr. Duffy
means by availability. Availability is the ability to understand your
child’s need to pull away. It’s the ability to remember your own
teenage years and—even though you may feel rejected at times—to treat
your retreating child with respect. Availability is the ability to
leave your fears and your ego behind and to really listen to what your
adolescent has to say, even if it makes you cringe.

Not an easy task by any means, but The Available Parent
gives a clear roadmap for carrying the mission out. Dr. Duffy first
takes you inside the mind of a teenager, so you can understand where
this kid is coming from. He then explains why some parents’ natural
inclinations, such as snooping, micromanaging, blinders and bribery,
never work. Next Dr. Duffy describes the notion of parental
availability, and he offers specific methods for recreating the
connection with your adolescent offspring. For those who are fearful
that availability means laissez faire parenting, there is a chapter on
discipline and behavioral contracts.

The goal of Dr. Duffy’s book is to help parents of teens
understand and define their job. For moms and dads that means, among
other things, accepting the fact that their children are supposed to
eventually break away, leave home and become attached to new people.
But the goal of The Available Parent is also that teens and parents
enjoy one another’s company as much as possible now while they’re still
living in the same house.

What in God’s name am I supposed to be doing with This Kid?
The Available Parent gives you the answer.

Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D.
1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Viva Editions (May 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573446572
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573446570
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #762,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a just a fantastic read! Duffy gives great advice, backs it up with interesting examples from his practice, and puts it all into nice easy chunks to digest (and try to put into practice). I always felt that my husband and I had moved from the parent role to more of a "coach" role for our teenagers, but was never really sure that I could explain why I felt it was better for them. He does all that and more. He also makes it clear that parenting teenagers shouldn't be a chore, that these are precious years that should be enjoyed. (Not that there won't be any tough spots, but you know what I mean.)

If you have time to read only one book about parenting teens, I would choose this one. (And I'm a librarian, so I see a fair number of parenting books.) I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Living with two teenage girls is not an easy task. As I was reading this book, I kept saying " Oh, I get it now". I realized, I didn't "get them". I can't say I agreed with all his tips but I am utilizing some and I can see the difference in my relationship with my girls. This book is practical with great examples and covers almost all the basis on parenting a teenager. It's an easy read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It gave me some good insight as to how to act and not react with my tween daughter. It also helped me think back to my childhood and the practices my parents used with me. Although I still run a tight ship at my house, it opened my eyes to how I've maybe been too demanding in some areas of parenting. I think it's a great book for parents with children of all ages to read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book will give parents, grandparents or anyone involved in the lives of teens and tweens a helping hand in understand how our children think and relate to different situations. I think helps to gives the child a voice towards getting the parent or guardian to relate to them with insight. I purchased a copy for myself (grandmother), my husband (who reads abundantly) and my daughter (parent of a preteen). She thanked me for giving it to her. I also added the book "Getting to Calm".
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been confident that I am a fairly good parent. I read all of the "What to expect..." books when I was pregnant and when the kids were toddlers. I almost forgot to look for help during the scary teen years. I loved this book. I was surprised to find it was not just a guide but a good read. The stories were great. I know that I will handle situations better for having read it. It was like getting condensed therapy sessions in the privacy of my home!
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Format: Paperback
I should start this review first by saying that I have no children of my own, but as someone who works around young people of all ages I can say that Dr. John Duffy's book THE AVAILABLE PARENT is a home run for all adults. One of the best lessons that I got was the importance of realizing that a child---no matter what they say---wants discipline. They also want to know that someone is going to be there for them through the good and bad that they are facing.

What Dr. Duffy showcases in such a thoughtful way is that we have to make sure that we are showing children that they are loved, but that you are not there to be there friend. The book emphasizes the importance of letting them know that you deserve the respect that comes with the title of parent, and that you want the very best for them.

To bring home the points that he is discussing in the book the author also includes comments from tweens and teens that tie into the points he is making. No matter what the topic that may come up, the book shows us a way that we can not only deal with it, but make sure that the young person comes away knowing that they are not alone in what they are going through.

THE AVAILABLE PARENT is that kind of book many have been looking for when they try and answer the question 'What do I do?' The answer is simple: BE THERE. Let the child know that they have you in their corner regardless of what life throws at them. For them there can be no better ally.
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As a single mother of two tween girls, I must admit that I was terrified for the 'scary' years ahead. I was a rather troublesome teenager myself and my mother gleefully rubbed her hands together and grinned when I recently expressed my own mothering concerns to her. I was thrilled to get my hands on this book which offers another option - a warm, caring and close connection to your teenagers. I want that!

Dr Duffy shares practical and real advice on how to be an open, available, supportive and loving parent to your teenager rather than being terrified, distant, worried, or trying to be in control. The insight provided in this book has already been extremely helpful to me. My eldest daughter recently started with some hormonal behavior including strange tearful outbursts of frustration and stamping her feet, which I was able to deal with calmly instead of freaking out as I may have done. The outbursts are over in 2 minutes. Later, we talk about how she is feeling. Maintaining a close relationship with my girls is a priority to me and so I want to thank Dr Duffy for a book that I know will help me to enjoy my girls through their teenage years and beyond. This book is a must-read for anyone with children.
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