Oakland, CA—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 and highly-accessible work—which draws on such diverse fields as clinical psychology, cognitive neuroscience, epigenetics, sociology, anthropology, philosophy and religious studies—Simon had the kinds of experiences that helped him understand he couldn’t just read one book or talk to another parent to figure out how to do it “right.” He developed a successful parent education program at Parent’s Place in Marin and founded Practical Help for Parents—an online support and resource community for parents, educators and mental health professionals—and founded the counseling and student support program at a local independent high school, serving thousands of teens over the years. You would think he had plenty of expertise to write a book long ago. But Simon is philosophical about it.

“It’s not about whether I’m an expert on teens. It’s about whether I’m able to help you figure out how to be an expert for your particular teen. I had to figure out what to do for my own teenager; that’s what counts. It can’t be figured out in advance, and that’s what’s difficult about parenting a teenager—it requires a certain kind of often difficult, daily engagement. I learned slowly, through successive approximations, how to do the work of parenting a teenager and that’s what the book all about: showing parents how to do this for themselves, with the help of others.”

After all that research, though, didn’t he find one best way to parent all teens?  Simon says “No,” insisting, “One size doesn’t fit all,” when it comes to parenting. "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. He noted that it just didn’t make sense to him to intervene with teens in ways that empirical research had already shown were contradictory to the ways adolescent brains matured.

“That’s why The Approximate Parent combines those three sources of knowledge—current research, theory and practice—and the result is very powerful; it can help parents stop worrying about doing it perfectly and learn instead to be good “approximate parents.”

The Approximate Parent will be available for pre-order today and information about the work and author are available online at www.theapproximateparent.com. The book will be available through major online retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Ebook formats will be released in August. An official book launch event is scheduled for Thursday, August 2, 2012, 7 p.m. at Books Inc. in Berkeley, California.

# # #

 

Advance Praise foThe Approximate Parent

“Your child is negotiating an environment that has been radically redefined by the new media—the Internet, iPhone, Facebook world. The Approximate Parent is a brilliant synthesis of theory and practice, that aims directly at how teenagers actually live in this mediated world.”—Thomas de Zengotita, Ph.D., Anthropologist, educator and award-winning author of Mediated: How the Media Shapes Your World and the Way You Live in It