The Available Parent

A Book Review

The Available Parent. Dr. John Duffy

The Available Parent sheds light on the power of being “available” to your child. The author introduces the book with a discussion about how important it is for a parent to first acknowledge and accept their children where they are at the present moment, rather than expect them to be different. Dr. Duffy says that once parents acknowledge and accept their children – openly without judgment or criticism – they become “available” and that’s where the connection begins.

The book is divided into three parts. In Part One, the author provides the reader with an insight into a teenager’s wild world, including a discussion about the adolescent mind and what is going on inside of their heads. Dr. Duffy addresses the topic of intimacy and sex and provides suggestions on how to start a discussion about this topic so they listen. He includes advice for parents who have children that are homosexual and how being open and available in allowing a child to express his/her feelings is critical to their emotional well-being.

In Part Two, the author dedicates an entire section of the book to discussing why certain parenting strategies “never work”. The author says that asking questions to get to know your child and seeing their perspective are key points that will help parents make that connection and avoid resistance by doing more listening than lecturing. Additionally, Dr. Duffy discusses why judging, smothering, coddling, overindulgence, bribery and playing “good cop, bad cop” never work.

In Part Three, the author discusses strategies that “ always work”. He says that it’s important to become available not just physically, but also emotionally, and allow children to make up their own minds on most occasions. However, he mentions that it’s perfectly acceptable to step in as parent to make important decisions that involve a child’s safety and well-being.

Dr. Duffy talks about speaking with a child to find out their passion and making that connection. This shows a child that you truly care. The author closes the chapter by discussing the value of being a good role model and its immeasurable impact on a child in the long run. He says that to see the change, you have to be the change and inspire by example.

Overall, I like the author’s tone throughout his book and how he includes specific, clear cut examples on the dos and don’ts for today’s parents, along with intertwined case studies from his individual sessions with parents and their teenagers.

Author Byline: Dr. Douglas Haddad is an author, nutritionist, and middle school teacher in Connecticut who is a regular contributing writer to Parenting Special Needs magazine.  

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