Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Review: Tough Guys and Drama Queens

I was really looking forward to reading Tough Guys and Drama Queens: How Not to Get Blindsided by Your Child's Teen Years because I can see that the Princess is a tween drama queen in the making and I was pleasantly surprised that the core of Mark Gregston's philosophy is not just how to handle the turbulent teen years but how parents can better prepare their teens for adulthood. Having worked with teens myself, I am impressed that Mark Gregston, founder of a Christian residential counseling center called Heartlight, has had thirty-eight years of experience with more than 2,500 teens.

The author explains the steps of the parental roles in memorable terms. In the first five years parents try to please their children. In the elementary years, there is a shift to protecting the children. Middle school aged children need parents to provide. The remaining teen years should be about preparing them for adulthood. Unfortunately, many parents get stuck in over-pleasing, over-protecting, and over-providing modes. The result is their teenagers are not prepared to be self-reliant adults and they take on the very traits the parents were hoping to avoid, but were inevitable with their parental approach.

At first, it grated with me that Mark Gregston feels that the parenting approach that worked well with me as a child would not work today with the overexposure to information, the overloading children due to our heightened technology, but then I have to admit that today's culture is significantly different than when I was a teen. There were no such things as cell phones, home computers, and cable TV in my home as I was growing up, much less the Internet, email, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, texting, digital pictures, and video games. Between the pressures of school, activities, homework, chores, peer pressures, social media, and parental expectations to excel, a child could be starving for a loving, peaceful, and restful relationship with his parents, as the author suggests. I have felt strictly curtailing online and gaming activities would alleviate these pressures, but I agreed with the advice in the book that at some point teens need to be encouraged to make their own decisions, so they can learn from their mistakes--and, yes, they will make mistakes--at home with forgiving parents.

I highly recommend this book for parents whether or not you are struggling with your tweens or teens. The book has suggestions on what parenting practices to avoid and what ones work. There are examples of previously ideal teens suddenly turning onto the wrong path and why other teens seem rebellious most of the time. Most importantly, I feel the wisdom contained helps the parent realize in a big picture way that the goal is not to have the "perfect teen," but to allow the teen to be imperfect. Not to buffer the teen from the world, but allow him to test the waters of self-reliance, self-control, and self-discipline by increasingly allowing him to make his own choices and realizing, as hard as it is to allow him to fail or get into trouble, that he will learn from his mistakes more than any lecture.

Tough Guys and Drama Queens: How Not to Get Blindsided by Your Child's Teen Years will be staying on my shelf as a reference book to be reread in the future if only to remind me of the ultimate goal is to launch the teenager into adulthood and to encourage me stay on track with that big picture.

Disclaimer: I was given this book from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

1 comment:

Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.