Friday, March 23, 2012

Book Review: Hope for Parents of Troubled Teens

Hope for Parents of Troubled Teens provides a wealth of information for parents of pre-teens and young teenagers who want to know what they can do to lessen the chance that their teenagers will become troubled. Author Connie Rae, a licensed counselor who has worked with families and youth at risk for more than 25 years, shares valuable information gained from both study and personal experience in textbook-like form to help parents who fear their teens are headed for trouble to do all they can to head them off at the pass.

That said, except for parts of Chapter 11 and all of Chapter 12, I think the book is misnamed. As the book is mostly about preventative measures, parents of an already troubled teen may find it disturbing. These parents will be drawn to reflect on the past, asking, as they already are, what could I or should I have done differently? What did I miss? Am I entirely to blame? This kind of thinking often leads to feelings of guilt—real or false—and then into despair. It’s an exercise in unreality for parents of already troubled teens—futile thinking, rather than movement toward hope.

Parents of troubled teens don’t need to hear what they could have/should have done differently. They need help accepting where they are and knowing where to go from there—and how. They need to know that God still loves them and their child and that He often works miracles in response to fervent prayer. They need to hear the stories of parents who have successfully travelled beside their own children through the worst of the worst—and of those who have learned that when children choose to rebel, sometimes you just have to let go and know that God loves nothing more than leading prodigal children home! Rae’s son’s message in Chapter 11 and Rae’s own thoughts in Chapter 12 do offer these things. Parents of troubled teens will find some hope in these chapters.

Except for Chapter 12, the book says very little about entrusting our children to God. Instead, it puts a heavy burden on parents to do everything they ought to, should and must. But parents need to understand there is no formula for raising an untroubled child. There are ways to lessen the chances that a child will engage in rebellious behavior—which this book offers in abundance, but parents can’t do anything to guarantee that their children won’t choose to rebel. God gave all people free will—and some teenagers are especially good at using it rebelliously, insisting on learning life’s lessons the hard way. Parents seeking hope especially need to hear this. The hope they seek comes from the God Who created their child and Who loves him or her most of all.

Bethany House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review. I recommend it to parents whose children are entering their teenage years or to those who suspect their teens may be experimenting with dangerous things.

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