Book review: I’d Listen to My Parents If They’d Just Shut Up: What to Say and Not Say When Parenting Teens

By Anita Matthews

Published in Parenthots, The Star on January 7, 2013 as Learn to communicate with your teen

What to Say and Not Say When Parenting Teens
By Anthony E. Wolf, PhD
Publisher: Harper

The book’s title offered no comfort. The words “parent” and “shut up” were more than a reality check. I barely “shut up” when talking to my kids. More often than not, I overstate and overcompensate long after the kids have tuned out.

The title of Wolf’s book embossed in bright yellow on a red cover sent pangs of guilt through me. The sunshiny coloured text belied the blaring alarm bells that scream through my head with every interaction I have with my teens.

Parenting teens

Thankfully, Wolf’s book did come to the rescue. Through it, he lays the foundation of why teens behave the way they do. He provides frustrated parents solace and solutions to the messy parent-child communication style as he astutely captures nuanced conversations. Parents can begin to see a different perspective, or as in my case, come across many light bulb moments.

For one, I often forget that adolescence is a rite of passage. As the book progresses, it becomes very clear that parents can and should manage their conversations with teenagers. Parents should also be guided by a mantra not to take their teens’ whiny, crabby, snotty or angry behaviour personally.
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Book review: The Sibling Effect

By Anita Matthews

Published in Parenthots, The Star on November 12, 2012 as Learn about sibling relationships

What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us
By Jeffrey Kluger
Publisher: Riverhead Books

This book, by Jeffrey Kluger, opens like an Alfred Hitchcock thriller where he recalls the game of how he and his brothers hid the youngest in the fuse box. With the oldest at eight and youngest at four, the older boys had no idea of the danger they posed to the youngest. The following tale is about his father breaking into the house to deliver the divorce papers to his mum. Sibling Effect

On that premise, Kluger who is a senior editor and science writer at TIME magazine, takes his readers down memory lane with anecdotes of his childhood, growing up in a household of boys, a messy divorce, the extended family and the impact of his parents’ behaviour on how he and his brothers turned out.

Kluger’s book is an informative read as he examines the relationship between siblings - the disputes, jealousies, favouritism, the birth order, extended families, separation, sex, the teen years and more. He draws on scientific research, with every other page citing a finding or expert to rationalise or perhaps demystify the mysteries of siblinghood.

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