’Given the increases in stress, depression, anxiety and self-harm experienced by current teenagers, this is a useful guide for parents looking to understand more about how they can help.’
Title: Proactive Parenting
Author: Mandy Saligari
Publisher: Orion Spring
Reviewer: Kate Jack, PhD Student and Advanced Virology Nurse, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
What was it like?
This is a parenting advice book aimed at those with teenagers. The focus is on the prevention of mental health problems that may lead to drug and alcohol addiction. The author presents a framework around the need to develop good self-care practices and fostering a relationship with oneself that centres on dignity and respect. This book describes common emotional problems and is heavily focussed on explaining what addiction is, how it manifests, the impact on teenagers if parents have addictions and the effects of parental behaviour.
What were the highlights?
Being written by a therapist who has lived experience of teenage mental health problems and subsequent addiction, this is a heartfelt and authentic book. The notion of all types of addiction and associated behaviours being driven by fear (“Face Everything And Recover” or F*** Everything And Run” is a simple but effective explanation of how the responses to negative or stressful stimuli might manifest.
Strengths & weaknesses:
Given the increases in stress, depression, anxiety and self-harm experienced by current teenagers, this is a useful guide for parents looking to understand more about how they can help. There are summary boxes with questions for self-reflection, and questions for the reader to consider, so this is a book that encourages active participation from the reader. However, there are frequent references to the impact of parenting styles on teenagers’ mental health, which could be construed by some parents that they are to blame for their teenager’s struggles. For example, “the family is the greenhouse in which we grow from seed to plant”. The book’s emphasis on linking mental health and addiction could lead some to think that an addiction to anything from food to a class A drug is an inevitable consequence of depression/anxiety/stress so it is important for the reader to keep a sense of perspective.
Who should read it?
The parents of teenagers, and pre-teens perhaps too, who are displaying signs of pressure from social media, school and friendship group difficulties. Parents who are battling their own addictions and worried about the potential impact on their son or daughter might find some reassurances and advice too.