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Hope for Parents of Troubled Teens, by Connie Rae

Hope for Parents of Troubled Teens by Connie Rae has a lot of real gems in it that I appreciate even though my children’s teenage years are still on the horizon.  I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review on both my blog and on Amazon.com.  I am giving this book 3 stars.

I love Connie Rae’s idea on pp. 97-98 about leaving a surprise word of encouragement taped to the milk carton, when you and your child are going through a rough time. That’s definitely a tip worth remembering! Her emphasis on prioritizing family time (p118) is an important concept to remember too. Chapter 3’s theme of taking care of your children and teens by nurturing and protecting your marriage is a really refreshing addition to a parenting book, which I have not seen before.

My favorite advice is from page 192 when Rae shares her three rules to teach our kids to live by, adapted from her time as the parent-ed instructor at her community college’s preschool. (We are very active in our local community college preschool too.) To paraphrase, the three rules are: 1) Don’t hurt yourself, 2) Don’t hurt somebody else, and 3) Don’t hurt your toys. —Simple advice, but awesome!

If I was the parent of a troubled teen I think I would probably read every book out there about how to help my child, and how to cope. There are many parts of this book that would offer me hope and encouragement, as promised in the title. The problem I have with Hope for Parents of Trouble Teens is that even though I am a member of the United Methodist Church, this book is written for a Christian audience and I’m not sure that Connie Rae would consider me the “right” type of Christian.

The author really threw me on page 128 when she was discussing evaluating your church to determine if it was a good fit for your teen. One of the questions she wants parents to ask is whether or not your church is “too liberal”. What should church have to do with politics? Interestingly, she does not advise parents to question whether or not your church is “too conservative”.

I also have concerns about how Rae addresses (or does not address) teenage sexual orientation. On page 19 the author interprets Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” with the advice that parents need to discover and honor the individual bent and nature of a child. Great! I love that thinking. But then on page 114 Rae says that parents need to help teens find “an acceptable masculine or feminine role and to learn sex-appropriate behavior.”  What the heck is that supposed to mean for parents of gay teens? From Rae’s caution against churches that are “too liberal”, I have a guess. The author could have used this passage to encourage parents to accept teenagers of any sexual orientation, but she did not. I really wish she had.


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