Yes, my daughter is only two. No, I did not plan on reading this book about parenting teenagers. I actually received it accidentally from the publisher who sent me the book The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling. I could relate to this book though having been a teenager myself in the not so distant past and having a child of my own now that will be a teenager before you know it.
I'll start with all the positive things I really liked about the book. It is written by an experienced doctor, a grandfather figure of sorts. I like his style of writing, it is easy to read and relate to. This isn't really a 'how to' book and I think it is most valuable because it has so many quotes from teenagers themselves, revealing how they really think. Just the way the homeschooling book included so many quotes from actual homeschooling families and students. The book is like a collection of case studies that reveals many great tips on parenting teens.
Perhaps the most prevalent theme is that teenagers, no matter how defiant they may seem on the outside, ultimately end up doing what their parents teach and do. With the exception being the teenagers whose parents very obviously do not care for them (they in turn do harmful things to themselves as they do not care either). The chapter on trusting your own children, also rather thought provoking.
It's funny how so many parents expect something from their own teenagers, yet they themselves do not emulate those same qualities. The truth is, most kids grow up to be so much like us. Whatever we want to see in them needs to start with us.
The couple of chapters on religion were cut and dry, in the sense that the advice was evidence based. As in "college women with strong religious beliefs consumed less alcohol and were less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior than were female participants with weaker religious convictions." (p.70) Dr. Donahue brings up several studies that demonstrate time and time again that the more 'religious' a person is, the less likely they are to do these stupid things that impact health negatively (drugs, promiscuity, alcohol). So he advises parents to get involved in a church even if they are not religious, just 'for the sake of their growing kids'. Logically, yes, it makes sense. But for me personally, I am so against churches being full of pseudo religious people who go there for all the wrong reasons.
Frankly if a teenager has no real relationship with Christ, nothing is going to stop him from drinking, having random sex, and experimenting with drugs. There I said it. So while the authors advice is sound and logical, I think it is a bit hypocritical. "Hey son, I don't believe in God or anything, but we will go to church anyway so that your life doesn't get too screwed up." That's what it sounds like. If you're not religious, I would say you're better off spending more time with your kids, relating to them, and building a close relationship rather than hoping that some religious people in your community will put your kids on the right track. If your kid will want to seek God, he will find Him.
I also disagree with his advice on vaccinations. He praises the HPV vaccine but fails to mention all the facts. He does not mention side effects or the fact that many girls became paralyzed right after it and 59 girls have died from it so far (no word on that in the news, though 56 people died in cars recalled by Toyota for sudden acceleration and they still can't stop talking about it). He also doesn't mention that it increases the rate of cancer for those already infected with HPV 16 or 18 by 44.6%. Moreover, it by no means prevent cancer, all it does it protect against two viruses that can lead to cell abnormalities that in some instances can cause cervical cancer, if the abnormalities are not treated. There are more than 100 HPVs, 30 of which are known to cause cancer or genital warts. The vaccine is for only two of those.
All in all, there is a lot of good advice on parenting teens in this book. It covered everything from sex to suicide, television, and anger. There is a lot of wisdom in cases he presents, and surprisingly the wisdom often comes from the teenagers themselves! I highly recommend the book despite some things I personally disagree with and because it is unlike other teenage parenting books you've read.
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About the reviewer
Anastasia B (EcoMama)
I am a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a friend, a Christ follower, an Interior Designer, a blog author, a cook, an artist, an eco-conscious consumer, a nature lover, … more
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Forty years of pediatric experience have taught Dr. Parnell Donahue that the unique perspective of teens is an invaluable resource for parents who want their children to become men and women of character. His often frank discussions with teenagers cover topics familiar to parents - drugs, sex, suicide, medical care, financial responsibility, self-image, religion, even the importance of being nice - but with the added benefit of revealing how teens feel about these and other subjects, and what teens perceive their parents feel about those same issues. Each teen's true story reminds us that, despite appearances, our children carefully watch everything we as parents say and do - and they usually follow our lead. Dr. Donahue further reminds us that children want parents to teach good behavior at all times, "but use words only when necessary." He complements his discussions with medical insight that helps parents fully comprehend the issues facing their teens. The result is a poignant and ofttimes humorous discussion that challenges and usually changes parents' perceptions of modern teenagers.