Monday, November 26, 2007

Getting Inside the Head of Your Kid

"Who are you and what have you done with my child?" I have to honestly say that I have thought this about each of my children as they entered the teen years. At some point in their teens (usually during junior high), I've often wondered 'who' would be walking through the door after school. From day to day, and often hour to hour, their attitudes, actions, and preferences would swing from one extreme to another. Luckily, teens eventually discover who they are and what they want from the world and life settles down.

I just finished reading a book called For Parents Only -- Getting Inside the Head of Your Kid by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa Rice. I hope the things I've learned in this book will change the relationship I have with my teens (and improve the relationship I'll have with my boys when they become teens).

This is an easy-to-read book that is based on the input of hundreds of kids across the country. Some of the findings seem a little shocking at first until you think back to the time when you were a teen (regardless of how long ago that was), then you wonder if the authors had peeked at your diary! Other findings helped me realize that there are some things we are doing right.

At each stage of our lives we seek to stretch and grow. As babies we want to walk and communicate. As teens we want to learn who we are and how to function on our own in the world. More than anything, this book shows that teens crave freedom and they want to establish their own identity. Often our attempts to control our worlds as parents stifle the very things our teenagers need. Even though our teens may do stupid things with their freedom, they will do almost anything to gain more of it. Our job as parents during this time is to help the kids achieve independence and build responsibility without making reckless choices.

Many of the findings in the book helped me understand some of the attitudes and actions of my teens and their friends. While the information doesn't always make me comfortable, hearing the 'behind-the-scenes' thoughts and feelings that play out in everyday activities helps me gain perspective on what my teens are dealing with. The authors include a chapter that shows how boys and girls react differently to the difficulties of their teen years that really helps a parent deal with gender-unique interpretations of events.

Shaunti and Lisa provide an opportunity to look inside the heads of today's teenagers and give tangible actions parents can take to help their children grow into responsible adults. This would be a great gift for anyone who has a child entering or fully entrenched in the teen years!

Shaunti Feldhahn is known for unlocking the mysteries of relationships for men and women. Now she turns to a parent’s relationship with a child, particularly a child of the opposite sex. Drawing on the results of a nationwide survey of kids and teenagers, she explores questions such as:
What do moms need to understand about the “tough and tender” boy who values respect over love?
What do dads need to understand about their daughter’s need for affirmation?
What are the six biggest pet peeves teens have about their parents?
Understanding the answers to these and other important questions can help parents make the holidays a time of celebration and unity, not strife and friction.

For Parents Only offers a unique look into a child’s mind and frees readers to communicate in healthier ways as they discover that understanding their kids may not be as complicated as they think.

Author Bio:
Shaunti Feldhahn is the author of For Women Only and numerous other books, with sales totaling nearly one million copies. A nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and public speaker, Feldhahn earned her master’s degree at Harvard University . She and her husband, Jeff, have two young children. Lisa A. Rice is the associate editor of Christian Living magazine, the mother of two teenage girls, and a screenwriter and producer.

You can find out more about the book and purchase it here, or you can go directly to the website for additional details about the book and some actual survey responses from teens. You can also get a workbook to go with it...this would make a great study for a small group of parents.

Leave a comment about this blog and I'll enter you into a drawing for a free copy of the book! Please be sure to leave an e-mail address or some other way for me to contact you.