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11 Books Every Mom Raising Teenagers Should Read


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teenage parenting books"
teenage parenting books

If you’re a mom, you probably feel as though there’s an endless amount of advice, tips, and tricks out there for raising little ones. Not sure how to approach picky eating? A Google search will reveal hundreds of helpful articles. Want to spend more time with your toddler? Try signing up for Mommy and Me classes. Almost any parenting question or concern you can think of is surprisingly universal and therefore has an accessible solution—that is, until your kid becomes a teenager.

Every teen is incredibly different and unique as they’re in the stage of trying to figure out who they are and becoming young adults, so finding straightforward answers to your parenting dilemmas isn’t an easy feat. Raising teenagers is different in the sense that it’s more about understanding, listening, and learning than it is finding perfect solutions—there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all in the teen years.

Fortunately, there are many books (both nonfiction guides and enlightening novels) that can provide helpful insight regarding raising teenagers, from explaining how the teenage mind works to knowing how to nurture and grow your relationship with them as a parent. Here are 11 of our favorite teenage parenting books for moms raising teens.


Parenting Teens: Nonfiction

This list includes highly-rated teenage parenting books written by experts as well as a moving memoir from a well-known author.

Philippa Perry
The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read

The most influential relationships are between parents and children. But for so many families, these relationships can be quite tumultuous, and it may feel impossible to get them where you want them to be. In this informative yet heartfelt guide, psychotherapist Philippa Perry explains how strong and loving bonds are made with your children and how such attachments give your child a better chance of good mental health in teenhood and beyond. She'll help you understand how your own upbringing may be impacting your parenting style, acknowledge that all behavior is communication, break negative cycles and patterns, and so much more.

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Josh Shipp
The Grown-Up's Guide to Teenage Humans

Once an at-risk foster kid, youth advocate Josh Shipp faced a bleak future that was likely to lead him down some troubling paths. But then he met the grown-up who changed his life, Rodney—the foster parent who refused to quit on him and finally got him to believe in himself. Now, with this wonderful book, Shipp shows us how to be that sort of caring adult in a teenager’s life. Stressing the need for mutual respect, trust, and encouragement, he identifies three key mindsets crucial to understanding teens and breaks down the distinct phases of teenage life, offering revelatory stories that take us deep inside the teen brain.

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Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.
Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain

Between the ages of 12 and 24, the brain changes in crucial and, at times, challenging ways. In this bestselling book, Dr. Daniel Siegel busts a number of commonly held myths about adolescence—for example, that it's merely a stage of “immaturity” filled with often “outrageous” behavior. According to Siegel, we learn vital skills during adolescence such as how to leave home and enter the larger world, how to connect deeply with others, and how to safely experiment and take risks. Touching on new research in the field of interpersonal neurobiology, Siegel explores exciting ways in which understanding how the brain functions can improve the lives of adolescents, making their relationships more fulfilling and less lonely and distressing for both them and their loved ones.

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Julie Lythcott-Haims
How to Raise an Adult

In this must-read for every parent, Julie Lythcott-Haims draws on research, conversations with admissions officers and educators, and her own insights as a mother and a student dean to highlight the ways in which over-parenting harms children, their stressed-out parents, and society as a whole. While empathizing with the parental hopes and fears that lead to over-helping, she offers practical alternative strategies that emphasize the importance of allowing children to make their own mistakes and develop the resilience and inner determination necessary for success. Relevant to parents of teens, twentysomethings, and toddlers alike, this book is a rallying cry for those who wish to ensure the next generation's ability to thrive in their own lives with competence and confidence.

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Maya Angelou
Mom & Me & Mom

The story of Maya Angelou's extraordinary life has been told throughout her multiple bestselling autobiographies. But in Mom & Me & Mom, the legendary author shares the deepest personal story of her life: her relationship with her mother. For the first time, Angelou talks about the triumphs and struggles of being the daughter of Vivian Baxter, an invincible spirit with a larger-than-life presence who was absent during much of Angelou's early childhood. When her marriage began to crumble, Vivian famously sent 3-year-old Maya and her older brother away from their California home to live with their grandmother in Arkansas. The subsequent feelings of abandonment stayed with Angelou for years, but their reunion a decade later began a story that had never been told before this book. Diving into one of her life's most rich, rewarding, and fraught relationships, this beautiful novel explores the healing and love that evolved between the two women over the course of their lives.

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Parenting Teens: Fiction

Stories have the power to move us and teach us. And these novels have plenty of takeaways for parents of teens.

Anne Lamott

In this wise and witty novel, the growing pains of motherhood are portrayed with refreshing humor and honesty. If Elizabeth Ferguson had her way, she'd spend her days savoring her favorite books, cooking meals, and waiting for the love of her life to walk in the door. Instead, she waits for her daughter, Rosie—who's basically her smart-mouthed and wise-beyond-her-years alter ego. With Rosie around, the days aren't quite so long, but Elizabeth can't keep the realities of the world at bay, and although she tries, she can't hide Rosie from its dangers or mysteries. As Rosie grows older and more curious, Elizabeth must find a way to nurture her extraordinary daughter—even if it means growing up herself.

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Ocean Vuong
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

This novel is a beautiful letter from a son to his mother that was written with the purpose of the speaker, Little Dog, unearthing his family's history that began before he was even born. It serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, and it all leads to an unforgettable revelation. As an account of the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it's also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity in the United States. Through compassion and tenderness, Vuong dives into the power of telling one's own story as well as the painful silence of not being heard by the world and those you love.

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Rebecca Wells
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

When Siddalee Walker, oldest daughter of Vivi Abbott Walker, is interviewed in the New York Times about a hit play she's directed, her mother is described as a "tap-dancing child abuser,” which enrages Vivi and leads her to disown Sidda. Sidda begs forgiveness and does anything she can to make amends with her mother, but nothing seems to heal the wound. All looks hopeless until the Ya-Yas (the name of the Vivi’s girl squad since early childhood) step in and convince Vivi to give Sidda a scrapbook of their girlhood mementos called "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood." As Sidda struggles to understand her mother, she comes face to face with the tangled beauty of imperfect love and the fact that forgiveness and understanding is often what the heart longs for.

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Anna Quindlen
Every Last One

Mary Beth has built her life around her family, caring for her three teenage children, and preserving the rituals of their daily life. When one of her sons becomes depressed, Mary Beth focuses on him, only to be blindsided by a shocking act of violence. What happens afterward is a testament to the power of a mother’s love and determination and to the invisible lines of hope and healing that connect one human being to another. Ultimately, this novel tackles the reality of facing "every last one" of the things we fear the most and finding ways to navigate roads we never thought we’d travel.

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Elizabeth Strout
Amy and Isabelle

In most ways, Isabelle and Amy are like any mother and her 16-year-old daughter, with a strong mix of love and loathing exchanged in their every glance. So the fact that they eat, sleep, and work side-by-side in the gossip-ridden mill town of Shirley Falls only increases the tension. And just when it seems as though there can’t be anything else to add to their rocky relationship, Amy's sexuality begins to unfold, causing a rift between mother and daughter that will remain broken unless Isabelle examines her own secretive past. This novel builds upon the reality that despite our best efforts to do certain things differently than our parents, it’s easy to find ourselves doing just the same.

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Maria Semple
Where'd You Go, Bernadette

When her daughter Bee chooses a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, her mother, Bernadette Fox, fiercely throws herself into preparing for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the life she never truly wanted, Bernadette is on the brink of a meltdown. After a school fundraiser goes terribly wrong at her hands, she disappears and leaves her family to pick up the pieces—which is exactly what Bee does. Assembling a web of emails, invoices, and school memos, she slowly starts to discover the secret past her mother has been hiding for decades. This wildly entertaining and ingenious novel perfectly captures the power of the love within a mother-daughter relationship.

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LGBTQ+ Books to Read for Kids, Teens & Adults
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