Book Review: The Grown-Up’s Guide to Teenage Humans


Middle school years can be complicated years. At least for me as a mom. And I’ve only just begun! Thankfully, a friend recommended a great book that has helped me as I begin to navigate the exciting, busy, confusing, awesome journey that is adolescence alongside my tween son.

Josh Shipp, at-risk youth turned best selling author and speaker, lays it down straight and simple in his book, The Grown-Up’s Guide to Teenage Humans. He shares some advice that you can use today when interacting with your tween or teen. His book is geared toward anyone who cares for, raises or loves 11-18-year-old humans. Whether you are a coach, pastor, teacher, mom, dad, foster parent, grandparent or other caregiver, this book is for you.

Shipp tells us that every teen is just one caring adult away from success. If just one person invests in a teen’s life, it can mean the difference between disaster and greatness. He writes “The single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver or other adult.” But how in the world do you even talk to your teen when they are full of sighs and eye-rolling? This book teaches easy-to-start steps to grow in your relationship with your adolescent.

The Book’s Sections

The first part of the book covers the key mindsets that you’ll need to understand as you seek to grow in your connection with your teen. I love Mindset #1 the most. It tells us that teens need us more than it seems. Over my short time being a tween mom, I’ve come to realize that my son needs my presence more now that even during his preschool years. I’m no longer the parent who has to protect him from bodily harm, but my care is needed nonetheless. During the teen years, their need for us shifts from the “take care of me” to the “please walk by me while I try to figure this out.” It’s hard to change your parenting from small children to older kids, but it’s needed.

Next, Shipp’s book breaks down the stages our kids encounter from ages 11-18. It shares the biggest challenges our teens may be facing at these ages and gives helpful suggestions as to how we can help them with these challenges. I know that I’ll be rereading these pages many times in the years to come as my son grows older.

I value section three of this book. It prepares us for the many difficult conversations and situations that will probably come up with our teens. It covers topics such as establishing house rules, talking with your teen about death, warning signs of dangerous behaviors, setting screen time boundaries, helping teens respond to difficult teachers, and many more. Some of these situations apply to my parenting now, and I know that this section will be a handy and helpful reference for the future. My 11-year-old son doesn’t have any problems with borrowing the car right now, but it’s nice knowing I have some sound advice for when the time comes.

Lastly, the book closes with several resources including things our teens need to hear from us and ideas for connecting with our kids.

A Strong Recommendation

This probably won’t be a book that you sit down and read cover to cover, except for the first section about the three key mindsets. You’ll read the relevant parts and put it on the shelf for later. This book feels like an insurance policy for bad days and those difficult moments when you think, “Gosh, what do I even do about this?!”

I highly recommend this book. If you’re just starting out in the adolescent years like I am or are a seasoned teen parent, I think that this book offers excellent, easy to apply strategies and tips about how to best love and raise the teens in your life. As Shipp tells us, “Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.”

You can be that caring adult!

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Gretchen has lived in Colorado since she was 12 and never wants to leave. She has a 13-year-old son who is into having a good time, especially with sports and Fortnite. Together, they are navigating the teen world of puberty and growing up. She has a wonderful husband, having been surprised and blessed with a second chance at love. Their family enjoys playing board games, watching Avengers movies, and sharing dumb jokes over good food. In her free time, she loves to read, shop for purses, play games, watch football, laugh with her family, cook delicious food, and dream of the next home improvement project.


  1. This is fantastic! As a mom to two (almost 3) teens, and dorm mom to 20 teen girls, I’m always looking for resources like this. I’m definitely getting this book!!!! Thank you for this great post!!

    • Jen, Thanks so much for your comment. I hope that you love this book as much as I did while you guide your three kids!

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