I liked Kate Figes' approach; there were several chapters on the fact that teenagers need to both withdraw into childhood (at home) and to emerge as adults (via friends) that were very insightful. Teens are both late children and projecting themselves into a world they are unsure of.
Good to know their criticism of adults is really sizing up their own future role in an adult world that looks daunting.
On the other hand, a lengthy essay on the shortcomings of education and society that I found a bit tedious, repeating the need for school to be stimulating fun attractive, etc, for teens -- without being specific about how you get them to do their algebra homework, too.
How I wish this book had been around when I was a teenager, and how glad it will be when my own kids hit puberty. It's so wise, resassuring funny and well-researched it deserves to be a classic, like Life After Birth. What it will do for those in the middle of the Kevin and Perry style crisis I can't yet say, but Figes's findings (that teenagers are less silly and more vulnerable than popularly portrayed, essentially)make it possible to view the coming storm with equanimity. What this isn't is a self-help book - it's more intelligent and enquiring than that. However, it's a major bridge between the generations, and one that may even help teenagers understand their parents as well as vice versa.
They give you a thousand words here, but one will do: Brilliant. Your own children have a unique ability to send you screaming up the wall, running for cover, and behaving in ways you swore you never would. Kate Figes book covers all the big issues for the teenage family, and introduces just the right note of sanity to remind you that you do still love 'them'. Very helpful. Also useful to be reminded that one's own adolescent issues didn't just dissolve and disappear; they still sit right at the core of each of us as adults, only we just learned how to handle them better (allegedly).