How to raise happy teenagers

As I make my way to meet parenting gurus Janey Downshire and Naella Grew for a nice grown-up cup of tea in a smart London café, it dawns on me that, if I am really going to test their teenager parenting skills, I ought to turn up in role.

First I should be late, irked that they never told me London was so big.

Then, looking for my pad and pen, I ought to throw a hissy fit because I’ve lost my bag (the new one they bought me for my birthday).

Then, as they begin talking about their exciting new book Teenagers Translated, I should be texting friends under the table while picking the icing off Janey’s carrot cake.

If she looks annoyed, I ought to say, “I am listening,” and roll my eyes.

At the end I would need to sign off with a casual “Nice story, bro,” and ask for a lift to a friend’s house.

Finally, when starting this article last thing at night and realising I haven’t listened to a word they’ve said, I’d need to sidle up to either of them brushing their teeth and demand they help me.

If the answer is “no”, I should stamp off screaming, “OK, fine, make me fail!”

“I think many parents recognise facets of this behaviour,” says calm, reflective Grew, when I put this scenario to her.

“Our aim is to provide a tool kit for parents to deal with the tempestuous emotions of the teenage years.”

Parenting classes and manuals are a big industry these days.

But Downshire and Grew’s book (subtitle: How to Raise Happy Teens) stands out due to its powerful core idea: neuroscience can explain the chaotic impulses and emotions of the evolving teenage brain. Continue reading


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