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Ending the Parent-Teen Control Battle
Resolve the Power Struggle and Build Trust, Responsibility, and Respect
Average: 3.5 (49 votes)
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"Full of practical expectations ... Warmly ­recommended."
Library Journal starred review

Power struggles between parents and teens are nothing new, but chronic control battles are destructive to teen development as well as the entire family. According to psychotherapist Neil Brown, these battles occur as the result of self-perpetuating negative relationship patterns. Chock-full of powerful and easy-to-use evidence-based tools, this book will help you understand and end the painful tug-of-war with your teen and foster a peaceful and loving home environment.

In virtually all families, there are moments when teens are unhappy with parental limits, rules, and requests—as well as times when those kids are disobedient or noncompliant, or get caught up in the moment and make bad decisions. But the parent-teen control battle goes beyond this; it’s a chronic relationship pattern that uses up the family’s emotional resources and can seriously impact child identity, self-esteem, and development, resulting in destructive behavior and causing stress for everyone around. This book offers a thorough understanding of the control battle and a clear prescription to end it.

With Ending the Parent-Teen Control Battle, you’ll learn about the three elements that support this chronic conflict—reactivity, negative emotional tone, and being “other-person focused”—and discover the two key changes that can be made to address the underlying issues, allowing you to move toward a more positive way of seeing your teen while creating vital behavioral change. Using tools based in structural family therapy (SFT), which targets the core relationship pattern driving the control battle, you’ll be able to address specific issues and create a healthier pattern.

If you’re tired of the constant battle for control and you’re ready to cultivate a more loving, peaceful, and supportive environment for the whole family, this book has the skills and understanding you need to be successful, no matter what you and your teen face.

Publisher Reviews
  • "Psychotherapist Brown offers a family-oriented approach to teen-parent power struggles, illustrating how effective change will require adjustments on both the parental and teen front (“It’s not the kid, it’s not the parent—it’s the pattern”). Brown offers clear introductions to the three stages of adolescence, demonstrating the typical developmental challenges followed by four basic temperament types and how conflict between parent and child can make common demands even trickier. Likening power struggles to “The Beast,” the author describes how to “starve” the metaphorical creature of key nutrients such as reactivity and negative emotional tones. VERDICT: Full of practical expectations, such as making schoolwork a priority, helping out around the house, speaking respectfully, and being a good role model to younger siblings, Brown’s work also provides sample dialogs and an encouraging style that makes this holistic approach to what can be taxing years thoughtful and encompassing. Warmly ­recommended."
    Library Journalstarred review
  • “Neil Brown’s Ending the Parent-Teen Control Battle is an exhilarating read for anyone who lives or works with teens. You’ll find a breakthrough insight on every page, from targeting the control battle and not the teens themselves, to simple fixes for reducing reactivity and negativity to stop control battles. No book on parenting teens has felt so fresh and filled with so much hard-won wisdom from decades in the consulting room as Ending the Parent-Teen Control Battle. Brown’s book is a gift to every parent of a teen.”
    Lara Honos-Webb, PhD, author of The ADHD Workbook for Teens (www.addisagift.com)
  • “If you have faith in yourself, your teen, and the irrepressible power of family, you’ve struck gold with this book. Brown will guide you step by step through ‘taming the Beast’ that often arises when raising adolescents while guiding them to their highest potential.”
    Edward Farrar, LMFT, child, adolescent, and family specialist in McMinnville, OR
  • “As a primary care physician trusted with the intricacies of family dynamics within the office setting, this book has become an instrumental tool in helping guide my communication between parents and adolescents. It has helped me begin and execute a plan to help families find help for destroying ‘the Beast’ that manifests not only as emotional complaints, but also physical symptoms in both parents and teens. But more importantly, it has given me guidance as I navigate my own family dynamic. I am blessed to be the mom of my own teen! Thank you, Neil Brown, for showing me how to refocus our relationship and to stay positive. I highly recommend this book to all families entering into the teen years!”
    Patricia Golden, DO, medical director of Wheaton Franciscan Medical Group-Ascension Health Care Central Market Wisconsin, and member of the American Academy of Family Practice
  • “As a marriage and family therapist for over thirty-six years, I have worked with adolescents and their families, and have encountered the control battles so insightfully described in Neil Brown’s Ending the Parent-Teen Control Battle. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book for its clear language, warm tone, and pragmatic content. The metaphor of ‘the Beast’ gives therapists and parents a common language to describe the problem (‘feeding the Beast’) and implement solutions (‘starving the Beast’). The section about the adolescent brain is also particularly helpful in describing and understanding adolescent behavior. I believe that this book can become an essential tool for therapists as well as parents in promoting effective ways to support and guide adolescents.”
    Carmen Arriaga, LMFT, RN, marriage and family therapist and registered nurse in private practice, and adjunct faculty at Santa Clara University’s graduate program in counseling psychology
  • “With diligence, creativity, and an unwavering desire to help families, Neil Brown has gifted both therapists and parents with this expert book. Engagingly written, it offers a fresh look at the ‘parent-teen control battle,’ and clearly outlines a method for resolving it. Featuring a number of clinical vignettes, the book is not only practical, but illuminating and inspiring as well. From a psychiatrist’s standpoint, I particularly appreciate how the book addresses certain physiological considerations in teens. Recent neuropsychological findings shed light on the development of the teenage brain, further reframing and ‘normalizing’ some of the challenges families face. Along with the methods set forth, this knowledge helps to ease the despair of both parents and teens caught in seemingly endless struggles. As a compassionate, widely respected therapist, Neil Brown provides both hope and direction to families seeking affirmative change.”
    Andrew Kumasaka, MD, psychiatrist in private practice
  • “As a pediatrician and father, I found this book to be of the utmost importance for understanding the health and well-being of families. When addressing any family problem, from seemingly minor health issues to a devastating disease, we, as physicians, must acknowledge the unique dynamics of the family system. Everything I do as a pediatrician and parent involves these dynamics. The ideas from this book will enable the reader to clearly understand challenging dynamics with easy-to-understand advice to create healthy parent-teen relationships. I highly recommend this book for parents, therapists, educators, and healthcare practitioners working with adolescents.”
    Garry Crummer, MD, integrative pediatrics practitioner in Santa Cruz, CA, and former clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine’s Division of Community Pediatrics
  • Ending the Parent-Teen Control Battle defines a purposeful and mindful path through the often volatile minefield of life with a defiant teen. Neil Brown’s strong, experienced, and always-to-the-point voice has helped our family clarify our problematic journey with our teen grandson. His book brings organization and rational thought to an often messy, disorderly family dynamic. It reminds parents to envision our child as his best self, and helps us to become our best parenting selves. Simply put, this book has provided us the knowledge, hope, and courage to greet each new teen-parenting day.”
    Margaret Wilson, custodial grandparent
  • “Written with a profound respect for both teens and parents, Neil Brown traverses the rocky road of adolescence with wisdom and practicality. As a family therapist, I have experienced parent-teen control battles as one of the most challenging issues that many families face. This guide book is filled with realistic and relatable scenarios, extremely effective tools, and relationship-enhancing strategies. Parents, as well as therapists, will come away with a deep understanding of the stages and brain changes of adolescence, the potential pitfalls of parenting, and concrete steps to successfully navigate the challenges of raising a teen.”
    Andrea Wachter, LMFT, psychotherapist, coauthor of Mirror, Mirror on the Wall and The Don’t Diet; Live-It Workbook and author of Getting Over Overeating for Teens
  • “Neil Brown’s book cuts through the cultural myths that have left parents of adolescents shackled and confused. In clear, easy-to-understand steps, he creates road maps toward solutions and results. This book is a great resource for parents of 12- to 18-year-olds.”
    Joe Newman, MA, author of Raising Lions
  • “Identifying ‘the Beast’ in your home will turn your family around. It was insightful to see how parents often inadvertently contribute to the control battle. It is invaluable to understand that the parent’s role is to guide by providing structure with a positive tone while allowing teens to own their behavior and earn their privileges. Parenting can be enjoyable and rewarding again. A strong recommendation to my patients. A must-read for all families.”
    Martha Sandoval, MD, family medicine, Palo Alto Medical Foundation

    “Neil Brown has written a wonderful book for parents of teens. In conversational language, Neil highlights the importance of parental emotional awareness and control, attention to their teen’s temperament, and an unafraid approach to being straight with kids about their behavior and their need to earn privileges through behavioral control and honesty. By focusing on the battle for control, Brown helps parents avoid giving up and avoid excessively labeling and blaming their teen. ... It is certainly a book I could recommend to parents of teens in my practice and in my community.”
    John Sargent, MD, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics, and director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine

    “Reflecting decades of experience as a therapist, this easy-to-read book by Neil Brown will be a valuable resource for parents. Ending the Parent-Teen Control Battle provides both smart analysis of a troublesome dynamic that often creeps into relations between parents and teens, and very clear advice on how to either avoid it or get on top if it when it develops.”
    Bonnie Fox, PhD, professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, Canada

    “As a former middle school principal, parent, and concerned educational leader, I have experienced the parent-teen control battle from all fronts: professionally, personally, and academically. When Neil Brown came to present for our middle school, his strategies for setting caring, supportive boundaries and communicating non-confrontationally with teens were instantly accessible and understandable for our parent community. This book contains practical case studies and concrete examples of behavior and language that are clear and immediately useful. Brown gives constructive advice regarding the ‘developmental bridge’ that we all help our teens cross as parents, educators, and support providers. Anyone supporting healthy relationships and communication with teenagers can benefit from the strategies and information this book contains.”
    Valerie Royaltey-Quandt, EdD, director of student services at Campbell Union High School District

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