Monday, March 08, 2010

Book Review: What Your Son Isn't Telling You by Michael Ross and Susie Shellenberger

For decades, parents have bemoaned that their adolescent children are a mystery that they either fear or completely do not understand. This is especially true of mothers with teenage boys and fathers with teenage girls. What You Son Isn't Telling You is a guide put together by two former employees at Focus on the Family that formerly edited that organizations to magazines to reach adolescent boys and girls.

The book, although helpful for both parents, has a special emphasis on reaching Christian mothers of teenage sons. It covers a number of areas that challenge parents in dealing with teen boys, and that I am sure would spur thoughts for parents of teens. I like that the book starts with developing empathy and support for teenage boys, something that is often missing in books like this. After giving a short primer on adolescent development, the book jumps into issues of sexual development and identity for at least half of the book. The book then ends with several other hot button issues with boys.

This is a book I would not hesitate to give to mothers, especially single mothers with teenage boys. I think that there are a lot of practical tips for dealing with teens, especially the "shared meaning" conversations discussed in Chapter 4. It is forthright, honest, and deals with real life issues for teenagers. Parenting teens can be scary. If I was overcome with worry as a parent of a teen boy, this book would be something that would offer me a lot of comfort and relational tools.

Although I would not hesitate to give this to mothers as a pastor and a former youth pastor, I would not hand it to them as something that they should read uncritically. At times the book tends to make statements that express a viewpoint that is a little heavy-handed and overly strict. For instance, the authors believe in teaching boys that if they kiss a girl that they are "giving a little bit of themself away" so a young man should be "incredibly selective" on who they kiss. Also, I thought the rather lengthy discussion on the hygiene of teenage boys was overdone. In other words, I thought at times the authors conflated their solid biblical viewpoints with somewhat victorian traditions and attitudes.

A good resource for a church library or a parent who needs to understand their child.

(This book was provided by Bethany House Publishing in exchange for a review. A favorable review was not required. Only thst I read and report to my reading constituency)

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