I have never been a big fan of parenting books but then again I have been pretty lucky in the parenting role with kids who were fairly well-adjusted. 

When we have had problems, I remind myself to look at things from their side but that in the end, I have to be a parent – not a buddy or friend. However, I have mostly boys. That works for boys but for girls it is totally different.

Wait a minute, you say. Your daughter is a lovely thing that bakes and cooks and does fun stuff. She doesn’t have any issues. I would reply that this is true however, Sara is 10. She could change.

When I was asked if I was interested in reading a book about one mom’s journey towards understanding her teen daughter with mood swings and nasty attitude, I knew I had to read this. My sons are just emotional enough to make life rocky but manageable. I am wondering where my daughter will wind up.

Then I started reading My Teenage Werewolf  by Lauren Kessler. I was prepared to be bored out of my mind. Really, If you need to fall asleep there is nothing better than a parenting book. My head swirls unless the narrative is good and the information actually helpful.

Guess what, I stayed up to read this book. I avoided house work (despite having a party last friday) and lazed away part of my Saturday (without a soccer game). I enjoyed this book because the writing was superb. I loved the snarky asides, the quick lessons learned and the longer ones that took time and reflection to finally create a lightbulb moment of massive proportions.

Kessler writes about her relationship with her daughter, Lizzie and how it has plummeted down a deep ravine. It is hell to deal with because Kessler is never sure which Lizzie she is going to deal with this moment – the loving daughter or the smart-aleck-smack-down-artist.

So Kessler does what any academian would do, she shadows her daughter in various venues for the next year and a half in order to get a grasp on her daughter – what her life is in school, in sports, with friends. Kessler will shadow her in classes, in the hallway between classes and on the sports field. One memorable chapter has mother and daughter in a wrestling match.

While doing all this Kessler is reading and researching  about parental relationships and teenage brain development. She talks to therapists and her pediatrician and friends who happen to be therapists or parents of teenage daughters or both.

Kessler is also carrying around the baggage of her own relationship with her mother – what went right and what went horribly wrong so that the two women barely had a relationship until the older woman slipped away into Alzheimer’s Disease. Part of Kessler’s desire for this project is to find a way not to repeat that same pattern with her own daughter.

What Kessler gives the rest of us is a wonderful tale of how she figured it out – for the most part – and why teens act the way that they do. There are some wonderful bits as she shares the wrong moves she has done with her daughter. There are nostalgic moments as she remembers her days of teenage wrong doings. And then there are the moments when everything works.

What I like most about this book is how Kessler admits her mistakes, admits her envy of a friend’s great relationship with her own daughter, and how Kessler realizes history does not have to repeat itself.

So I have hope for the future with my daughter. I have some tactics to remember when things go bad. And when things are really bad, maybe it is best to simply take in a movie with the child.

How is your relationship with your teenage daughter?

My Teenage Werewolf  is available in paperback at the cost of $15.00 starting on August 30, 2011. This book was sent to me by Penguin Books to review. Their hope is that I would enjoy it as well. Mission accomplished. I have one copy to giveaway. Comment below with your most hair-raising tale of teenage behavior. The most needy (as determined by me) will receive my copy.