The Approximate Parent

Introduction to The Approximate Parent (Free!)
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The Approximate Parent Ebook Digital Downloads (Entire book and chapter by chapter)
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The Approximate Parent: Discovering the Strategies That Work with Your Teenager
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About the Book


You can now purchase The Approximate Parent at a discount on by clicking on the title link or picture below!


The Approximate Parent helps you translate what your teen thinks, feels and does into terms that make sense, so that you have practical ways of responding to the challenges of safely loving and supporting your teen from adolescence into early adulthood. No two teens are the same; this book aims to help you strategize wisely by taking into account both the current American culture of adolescents and your particular teen’s biology, temperament and developmental challenges.

This highly accessible, award-winning book is informed by the latest research on adolescent development, effects of digital media on youth and identity formation, trends in drug and alcohol use, and relationships and sexuality, drawing on work in such diverse fields as clinical psychology, cognitive neuroscience, epigenetics, sociology, anthropology, philosophy and religious studies.

In 2013 The Approximate Parent won both the Reader Views and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association Book Awards in the Parenting/Family/Relationships Category.


Do You Love Bookstores, Too?

I have to admit to cringing when I hear people talk about the death of "traditional" reading or how "nobody" buys books at bookstores anymore. For those of you who still like the feel of a book in your hand and want to feel the turn of the page, I'm happy to have you visit one of these local Bay Area bookstores, below, who are carrying The Approximate Parent. While you're there, say hello to a fellow "nobody" who owns, works at or still shops at a real bookstore and help support independent booksellers...or ask your local bookseller to carry The Approximate Parent!

Books, Inc., (Berkeley; See above, Book Launch on August 2, 2012) Books Inc., Berkeley

Book Passage (Corte Madera) Book Passage, Corte Madera

Laurel Book Store (Check back in early October for info on the Nov. 7th author event for The Approximate Parent)(Oakland) Laurel Book Store

Orinda Books (Orinda; say hi to Ginger the cat) Orinda Books

Pegasus Books (Downtown Berkeley on Shattuck) Pegasus, Downtown

Pegasus Books (Berkeley on Solano) Pegasus, Solano

Pegasus Books (Oakland/Rockridge) Pegasus, Rockrdige



Approximate Parent Highlights

  • Confused by thousands of parenting books and expert opinions on parenting teens? This volume will help you get more engaged, more curious and less worried about being the perfect parent.
  • This book is meant to live by your bedside throughout your child's adolescence. Read each chapter as it bears on your parenting concerns in the moment—and come back to it when you want to. Take what you need and leave the rest until you're ready; don't worry about reading it all the way through...or just read the Practical Help Tips in each chapter. This book will give you a lot to think about but it's structured specifically like the parenting approach it teaches: start exactly where you are and use what you can, given where you are at that moment.
  • Do you have a teen in your house? You might not actually know if your child has entered adolescence yet, since adolescence and puberty are not the same thing; but you'll know after reading The Approximate Parent. Want to know what challenges are coming and why? The book offers a smart, elegant way of understanding the contexts of adolescent development in America—beyond all the “teen” stereotypes—helping you reach wise approximations of what to do in the hard situations with your particular teenager.
  • This book is a practice-based approach to parenting teens. It’s not about doing it "Right." It’s about stumbling towards understanding—approximating the approach best suited to yourself, your teen, your circumstances and resources. It’s imminently practical because one size doesn’t fit all.
  • Learn what the latest neuroimaging studies reveal about how the adolescent brain develops and functions—and what to do with this information.
  • Find out how American teen identities are shaped—and often made deeply anxious—by constant access to digital mass media…and how to respond to the challenge.
  • You’ll read about the link between adolescent anxiety over status can hinder the healthy development of your teen’s identity.
  • Get the latest information on drug and alcohol use among adolescents and a powerful way to respond to your teenager about the challenges of drugs, alcohol and parties.
  • Learn what to do to help protect your teen’s wish and will to learn—and what gets in the way of the natural impulses of creativity, study and learning.
  • Find out how your teen sets up specific tests within the family as a way of getting help with developmental difficulties.
  • Understand the ethical dimension in parenting your teen and how to get across your values in a digital world competing for your teen’s attention.

Advance Praise

"Michael Simon knows more about teenagers than anyone I know. For years, he has been helping parents all over the United States in his popular speaking series on parenting adolescents. Now, inThe Approximate Parent, parents can benefit from Michael's unique perspective by reading his book. This is not a simple 7 Steps to a Happy Teen type of book, because Simon knows his subject matter too well, and has too much respect for parents to oversimplify something as constantly evolving as adolescence and as humbling as parenting. Combining ethics, philosophy, science, psychology and sociology, Michael has written a book that may forever change how you look at your teen, and at the same time, provide you with all of the tools you need to get them where they need to go. The Approximate Parent is a meticulously researched and psychologically solid book. I learned a lot and know that you will too. Highly recommended!
Joshua Coleman, Ph.D.
Psychologist, relationship and family expert and author of many popular works including When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don't Get Along and Imperfect Harmony
“If you are the parent of a teenager and you are paying any attention at all, you know that, besides dealing with the classic adolescent issues, your child is negotiating an environment that has been radically redefined by the new media—the internet, iPhone, Facebook world.  If you are at all self-aware, you probably realize that you don’t understand that environment very well.  There are plenty of media experts out there and plenty of parenting experts too – maybe too many - but, in Michael Simon, you have someone whose life’s work has been in media theory and adolescent development.  He has mastered the literature in both fields and has been putting it all to work as a high school counselor and therapist for almost 20 years.  That is an extraordinary qualification and, with every innovation in technological connectivity, it becomes more and more essential.  The Approximate Parent is a brilliant synthesis of theory and practice, of research and application that aims directly at how teenagers actually live in this mediated world.”
Thomas de Zengotita, Ph.D.
Anthropologist, teacher at New York University and the Dalton School and author of Mediated: How the Media Shapes Your World and the Way You Live in It and winner of the Marshall McLuhan Award for Outstanding Book in the Field of Media Ecology (2006)
“Parenting teenagers is a risky business that requires the development of healthy risk-taking skills for parents as well as adolescents. Michael Simon’s book, The Approximate Parent: Discovering the Strategies that Work for Your Teenager, offers an important blueprint for parents who want to learn these skills. This work underscores a way of parenting teenagers that promotes a parent’s abilities. Beginning with the skills and natural abilities that a parent possesses, he builds on them. Michael also recognizes that parenting teenagers is neither black or white nor good or bad. Instead, it is a process of growing closer—closer to your adolescent, yourself as a parent, and most important, closer to what works best for your relationship. Michael's non-dogmatic approach is truly heartening.”


Lynn Ponton, M.D.
Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Dr. Ponton is a highly sought-after national and international expert on adolescent risk-taking and author of The Sex Lives of Teenagers and The Romance of Risk 

"Blending a combination of keen insight, personal anecdotes and a plethora of scientific research on adolescent cognitive, social and emotional growth, Michael Simon, a psychotherapist and former high school counselor, arms frazzled parents with practical suggestions and time-tested intervention strategies. You may even begin to feel deep compassion for your teenager whose brain is under construction. And, also for yourself; for having to live in the construction zone, and act like ‘a grown-up’ as you try with all your might to be a healthy role model. The Approximate Parent is a multifaceted, illuminating read."
Annie Spiegelman
Parent and author of Growing Seasons: Half-Baked Garden Tips, Cheap Advice on Marriage and Questionable Theories on Motherhoodand Talking Dirt: The Dirt Diva's Down-to-Earth Guide to Organic Gardening
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Teens and the Alluring Chemistry of the Digital World
April 16, 2014
Michael Simon: It's very hard to “opt out” of the digital world, because the digital world is more than just our interaction with digital media and devices. Our transactions as humans in the world right now are without a doubt being shaped by the dominant technologies, platforms and applications in the digital realm, just as we are busy shaping those technologies. I recently spent 20 hours on a plane, 3 hours on a train, and hiked 3 hours into a rain forest. As I sat listening to the sound of the rain—hoping I wouldn't get washed away—I caught a faint “whooshing” sound in the distance. Turn out it was another hiker, sending a text message.
Who Trusts You, Baby? Not Millennials, Evidently
March 09, 2014

A new study by Pew Research (Social & Demographic Trends) released on March 7, 2014, revealed the ways Millennials—emerging adults, age 18 to 33—see and respond to the world around them. Pew Research has been following this age group for over a decade and while the results of the surveys are relatively consistent over time, they differ in some surprising ways from previous generations, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation. (The parameters for each descriptive category are found here.)

The Approximate Parent wins 2013 Book Award for Best Parenting/Family Title!
January 19, 2014

The Bay Are Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) selected The Approximate Parent: Discovering the Strategies That Work with Your Teenager (Fine Optics Press, 2012) as a winner of a 2013 Best Nonfiction Award (in the Parenting/Family/Relationships category).  BAIPA is a network of publishing...

Book Review: The Approximate Parent
September 19, 2013

Review of The Approximate Parent: Discovering the Strategies That Work With Your Teenagers by Michael Y. Simon, LMFT Reviewed by Patricia Canestro, LMFT in The Therapist (Sept./Oct. 2013 issue). The Approximate Parent: Discovering the Strategies That Work with Your Teenager...