I picked this up after reading the review on Tim Challies’ blog. My teenager isn’t angry, but he can be unmotivated. I ordered it from Monergism books while getting a Bible study for us to complete this Spring.
The premise is to help adults (parents, counselors) see teenagers and spend time seeing things from their perspective. He begins in the introduction presenting eight ways to see teenagers with a biblical lense. This includes treating them with respect and recognizing that they are sinners, as are we all. Also that there are “wise wants” within each of us, including angry teenagers. He uses this fact to bring hope to the situation. We can help them identify their wise wants, encourage those good things, and then help them find their own solutions to help take actions that will achieve those good things.
The author does a good job of reminding us that teenagers are old enough to take responsibility for their own actions and to be trusted with this growing maturity, but also points out that many things we see as obvious are not obvious to them. The section on helping them see that actions and consequences do connect was helpful for me. For example, not recognizing how actions can have results can lead to hopelessness, and feeling there is no control over anything.
He also stresses that the teenager does have choices, even though one of those choices is to continue the same behavior that has resulted in the bad results they have gotten so far. This is brought out well in a page talking about how change is hard (don’t we all know that) and it “can seem easier to them at times to just stay the way they are and pay the price. So you have to keep before these teens their own words about how the unpleasantness they are getting has been messing everything up.”
The main section talks about listening to identify the things they don’t want, then helping them clarify where they do have control and why they would want to make the effort to change. After that you help them find times they have taken good actions and had good consequences and using those experiences to craft solutions to current issues and then planning small steps to begin to make those changes.
He ends with a reminder that all of this is good and useful and biblical, but the main goal should be to point the teenager to Christ as their Lord and Savior.
The author uses the book of Proverbs to show the biblical wisdom in the approach and actions to help guide a young person to their own self-evaluation and actions. I look forward to reading this one again and using the information to change how I interact with teenagers.