Talking the Tough Stuff with Teens -
Fiona's second book for parents & carers

The story of the book

It’s not always easy to talk to your teenager, or for them to talk to you, but it is important,

and may even be life-saving. Following the success of ‘I Wish I’d Known’, Sheldon Press was keen to get Fiona writing another, and Fiona was already exploring ideas for a new book that concentrated on conversations, knowing how tricky these can often become for both parents and teenagers during these years of critical change.


‘Talking the Tough Stuff with Teens’ broadens the scope of Fiona’s first book beyond drugs to encompass all of those overlapping areas of awkwardness for parents and their teenagers. It aims to enable both parents and teenagers to communicate more constructively, collaboratively and positively about the issues that are most challenging in young lives, and can cause not only most tension and disruption within families, but also present highest risk to adolescents. The conversations both may prefer to avoid.


This book is full of the voices of teenagers, young adults and parents, drawing extensively on hundreds of conversations that Fiona has had with young people and parents in focus groups and school and college workshops, to give a framework for tackling the everyday stuff, as well as tough conversations about difficult things, without judgement or anger. It gives context and insight, based on the latest neuroscience findings on the teenage brain, and in the second part brings in the specialist voices of experts in each area of additional risk. Importantly, it gives hundreds of prompts and plenty of practical suggestions and strategies to make communication between parents and young people a two-way street that builds the foundations for a strong relationship with your adult child.


Fiona said, “My hope is that this will be a book that’s useful for every family, and across the generations, bringing insight, understanding and practical strategies so that conversations at home enable pre-teens and teens to live happily, healthily and safely, and grow into confident, independent adults – and ones that still enjoy conversations with their parents back at home.”


This book helps parents understand what it’s actually like to be a teenager on the end of aconversation with mum or dad. It offers a precious window into teenage thinking and whatwill (and won’t) get through to a teenager. There are practical blueprints for talking abouttricky issues and keeping communication channels open through even the toughestchallenges. Despite the difficult terrain, Fiona Spargo-Mabbs avoids fear-mongering andsucceeds in being warm and inspiring and totally accepting of imperfect parents and ourimperfect teens, modelling with thought, reflection and humour a relationship-centredapproach to parenting that will help you be the parent your teen really needs.

Anita Cleare

co-founder of the Positive Parenting Project, and author

'Quite simply: Stop what you are doing and read this book. All of it, bits of it, in one gulp or slowly in slurps. It might be the most important book you ever read as a parent. It is thoughtful, helpful, brave and wise andthe testimony of all of the teenagers, whose experiences are included, is just priceless stuff. I thank Fionafor writing it. And I think you will too'.

Fi Glover

Fi Glover, BBC broadcaster and presenter, journalist and author

Every parent needs this book! It’s packed full of sound and useful information, insightful suggestions andconversations which support parents giving them useful tips and a different perspective.

Don't wait until they are teenagers to read this book. I think it would be so useful for parents with pre-teens as it will give them the chance to be prepared and 'armed'!

Jane Smith

Jane Smith, former CEO of Anorexia and Bulimia Care (now Talk ED), and author

Fiona has successfully weaved her personal and professional experiences of parenting into this book aptly named “Talkingthe Tough Stuff with Teens”. The first part is packed full of experiential quotes in the parents talk, teens talk and twentiestalk boxes, some of which made me laugh out loud, and some of which almost reduced me to tears. What shines through isthat whilst every family, every child, every parent has their own unique experiences of teen years, there are some commonessential themes. Parents matter. Parents who listen are always more effective. Parents need to be seeking to look at theworld today through the lens of their child if they are going to keep lines of communication open, especially when the goinggets really tough. Fiona also cleverly weaves in everything we now know about teen brain development. The reward centreis key and teens respond so much better to positive feedback and their parents’ belief in them, than to sanctions andpunishment. The second part of the book, which explores the most risky and potentially life threatening challenges teensface, is simply brilliant, introducing professional expertise and resources alongside hard hitting real life case histories.
A masterful new book that every parent can learn from.

Jenny Langley

Jenny Langley, Lead Facilitator at New Maudsley Carers Kent, co-author

The teen years can be daunting for both young people and their parents, but Fiona has created a handbook that willempower any parent or carer. At the core of this book is the belief that
staying connected to our teens and working onthe art of conversation with them will give them the best possible chance of thriving through adolescence and earlyadulthood. Framed by her own parenting and professional experience and peppered with the voices
of teens, parentsand experts, the pages are filled with practical, actionable tips and templates for family conversations . If you've everworried about how to get a teen to ‘open up’ about their thoughts and feelings, or how to talk to them about risks,choices and consequences, mental health, peer pressure and everything in between, this is definitely the book foryou.

Kathy Weston

Dr Kathy Weston, Founder of Tooled Up Education, presenter of Get a Grip podcasts for parents, and author

Talking Through the Tough Stuff is the first book to guide parents through some emotionally chargedconversations with their teens. The author has perfectly balanced a mixture of academic research and livedexperience to empower parents
with a confidence to talk openly, honestly and with understanding. TalkingThrough the Tough Stuff leaves no stone unturned and ultimately aims to save the lives of vulnerableteenagers through collaborative approaches. Whilst we always say parenthood doesn’t
come with a manual –this comes pretty close!

Kelly Thorpe

Kelly Thorpe, Head of Helpline Services at PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide

Wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to freeze-dry your children in between when they were biddable kids to becominginteresting and engaged adults, missing out all the tears and tribulations, the conflicts and disagreements, of theteenage
years? You can’t - but Fiona Spargo-Mabbs’s book can help you navigate that complex time. Fromunderstanding your own reactions to your young person’s behaviour, to taking on board why they do, say and believewhat they fling at you – or conceal from you -
this book can help you transform what might seem a minefield to a walkin the park. Real-life conversations, tips and strategies, and a little science, will give any parent or carer the tools tohave the conversations that matter. It may save a life – it may
just make a Saturday afternoon fun.

Suzie Hayman

Suzy Hayman, Broadcaster, journalist, author, and agony aunt on national UK magazines

Alicia Drummond MBACP, CEO of Teen Tips, and author of ‘Why Every Teenager Needs a Parrot’(Let’s Talk Ltd. 2013) 

Anita Cleare, co-founder of the Positive Parenting Project, and author of ‘The Work/Parent Switch’ (Vermillion, 2020) 

Kelly Thorpe, Head of Helpline Services at PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide



Jenny Langley, Lead Facilitator at New Maudsley Carers Kent, co-author of ‘Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder: The New Maudsley Skills-based Training Manual’ (Routledge, 2018) and ‘Boys Get Anorexia Too: Coping with Male Eating Disorders in the Family’ (Lucky Duck Books, 2006)

 To order your copy now:

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