Oakland, CA, June 1, 2012--When Bay Area psychotherapist Michael Simon woke up and found that his school-aged son was actually a teenager, he realized he was in big trouble. “It’s not that I wasn’t aware of adolescent development,” he laughs, “I just didn’t know how I was supposed to parent a teenager in a way that wouldn’t doom him to a future of paying people like me to sort out what I’d messed up.”
Evidently Simon has figured a few things out. It’s been 14 years since that pivotal moment in the Simon household. And now on the heels of his son’s 26th birthday, he’s penned The Approximate Parent: Discovering the Strategies That Work with Your Teenager (Fine Optics Press, ISBN 978-0-9852276-9-2, $34.95).
On the way to completing this compelling, fascinating and highly-accessible work—drawing on diverse fields of clinical psychology, cognitive neuroscience, epigenetics, sociology, anthropology, philosophy and religious studies—Simon came to understand that he couldn’t just read a book or talk to a few parents to figure out how to do it “right.” He wanted hands-on experience and knowledge about practical interventions that were rooted in both “real life” and scientific research about how teens live in and are shaping and being shaped by today’s digital world.
He’s done his share of “hands-on” research since 1998. Simon developed a successful parent education program at Parent’s Place in Marin, formed Practical Help for Parents—an online support and resource community for parents of teens, educators and mental health professionals—and founded the counseling and student support program at a local Bay Area independent school, where he served thousands of teens over many years. He has also worked in his own busy psychotherapy practice for close to 17 years.
You would think he had enough expertise to write a book long ago. But Simon is philosophical and thoughtful about it all.
Isn’t there one best way to parent a teenager?
Simon says “No,” insisting, “One size doesn’t fit all,” when it comes to parenting.
“It’s fine if I’m an expert on teenagers in general, but that doesn’t necessarily help parents. It’s all about whether I know how to help you figure out how to be an expert on your particular teen, just like I had to work to figure out what my teen needed," says Simon. "That can’t be done in advance; it requires a certain kind of daily engagement as a parent and it isn’t easy. I learned slowly, and through successive approximations, how to do the work of parenting a teen. That’s what the book is all about—showing parents how to do this for themselves.”
"You have to know the context for understanding the issues facing most American teens, plus you have to know your particular teen’s internal and external lifeworlds," says Simon. “And it made no sense to me to intervene with teens in a way that empirical research had already shown was contradictory to the ways adolescent brains actually develop. So The Approximate Parent combines those three sources of knowledge—current research, theory and practice—and the result is very powerful; it helps parents stop worrying about doing it perfectly and learn instead to be a good “approximate parent.”
The Approximate Parent will be available for pre-order on June 1, 2012 and information about the work and author are available online at www.theapproximateparent.com. The book is available through the major online retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Ebook formats will be released in August 2012.