Authors: Brad Wilcox and Jerrick Robbins
I used to joke with my husband that I would parent our children until they were teenagers and then I would turn them over to him. Now that I have a 13 year-old son and a daughter who will be a teenager before the year is over, I have renegotiated with my husband. No way am I going to miss out on mothering kids at this amazing age! They are so fun and interesting and capable. Raising teenagers does present new parenting challenges, however. This book is helpful in identifying some of the hard things teenagers are going through and what we, as parents, can do to help them.
The authors affectionately compare connecting with teens to hugging a hedgehog. While both can be done, there are guidelines to follow if you want to do it effectively. Parents can improve communication with their teens by watching for non-verbal cues. Just as we had to figure out the meaning of our baby’s cries, parents of teens have to determine the meaning of their unspoken messages. The book suggests ways to break down communication barriers, highlights the importance of eating dinner together regularly, and teaches ways to build trust and respect. I also learned quite a lot about how to help teens overcome adversity such as peer pressure (and why this is so huge), false ideas about sex and drugs, and how to cope with failure. I appreciate the final section of the book the most. Teenagers often have such a low self-esteem and I have had difficulty knowing how to handle this as a parent. This book has great suggestions for helping teens feel good about themselves in a deep and meaningful way.
The authors share several short, personal experiences from their lives and those of teenagers with whom they interact as they speak to teen audiences around the USA. While there is plenty of substance, they get right to the point, making this book a quick and light read.
Parts I Liked Best:
This book does not focus on teenagers as the “problem” and what parents need to do to fix them. Instead it identifies the inherent problems most teenagers encounter and how parents can guide them through their challenges. The authors’ approach is loving and kind to both the teenagers and parents. It reminds me what teens are facing and how I can lovingly guide them, draw boundaries, and give them a soft place to land when they fall.
How This Book Made an Impact in My Life, Especially as a Mother:
Because I have six children between the ages of 2-13, I appreciate the opportunity to focus on one or two children in a particular age group and really think about their perspective on life right now. At the end of each chapter, there is a section called, “Invitations to Action.” The authors ask further thinking questions and offer challenges. While this book is intended for parents, some of the sections lend themselves to great conversation starters with teens. In the spirit of acting, and not just reacting to my children, as the book suggests, I plan to use many of the ideas in this book for formal and informal lessons with my older children, including my nine-year-old. The ideas are not written as talking points but can easily be modified to be such. I often feel overwhelmed after reading a parenting book, but the ideas in this book are short, inspiring, and actionable. I highly recommend taking a peak if you have teens or pre-teens.
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