DAUGHTERS GONE WILD, DADS GONE CRAZY
Charles Stone & Heather Stone
W Publishing Group
Parenting & Families
A couple of years ago the movie Thirteen, staring Holly Hunter and Evan Rachel Wood, had people talking with its frank depictions of early adolescent drug use, sexual promiscuity, and emotional angst. Media outlets picked up on the public's level of shock that the movie would show 13-year-olds engaged in such behavior. "Maybe 16- or 17-year-olds, but surely not kids so young?! And not middle-class white girls!" seemed to be the general feeling.
It didn't take long for adolescent psychologists to make the talk show rounds and confirm that this was, indeed, an accurate picture of how many young girls are starting to act out as they enter the teen years. And the movie only confirmed what pastor Charles Stone and his wife had learned the hard way, just a few years earlier, when their oldest daughter, Heather, turned 13.
Today Heather is 22 and a committed Christian pursuing a career in nursing. But for five years she tore herself and her family apart with behavior that the word "bad" doesn't modify with justice. Emergency rooms, a manual labor camp, mental hospitals, and countless rehab units became the terrain of their lives. In DAUGHTERS GONE WILD, DADS GONE CRAZY, Heather and her father tell their story in a he said/she said format for which a courtroom scene (he said) sets the stage:
"A handful of fidgety people sat in the nearly empty room. We took our seats in the back, and after a few moments the bailiff barked his customary, "All rise!" A dark-haired judge emerged from the side door. He seemed to float to his bench in his ankle-length black robe. I could feel my shoulders begin to tighten as we nervously sat in Courtroom A.
'Charles and Sherryl Stone vs. Heather Stone: Case number 43. Please come forward,' he bellowed.
The bailiff opened the waist-high swinging door that led to the judge's bench. The judge motioned for us to sit at the well-worn Formica covered table in front of him. He peered over his black-rimmed glasses. 'So what's the problem?' he asked.
With a dry mouth I muttered, 'We just can't handle our oldest daughter anymore. She runs away, stays out all night with boys, uses drugs and alcohol, curses us, and skips school. We've consulted a half-dozen psychologists. We've pled with her, fought with her, and grounded her. We're desperate. We need your help.'"
The judge threatened Heather with an ankle monitoring device if she didn't start obeying her parents, but it would take a lot more before she was ready and willing to make changes. No longer opposing litigants, father and daughter want to provide hope, encouragement, and a few hard-earned bits of advice to others facing similar turmoil. DAUGHTERS GONE WILD, DADS GONE CRAZY is divided into eleven chapters, nine of which are devoted to what the duo calls "relational life preservers." They include #1 "Don't Panic at the First Warning Signs," #5 "Reconnect with Gifts from the Heart," and #7 "Chose Your Battles --- And Lose Some on Purpose." The first half of each chapter features Charles speaking to dads and the second half features Heather talking to daughters.
This book is what I like to call a teaching memoir. It doesn't shy away from bullet-pointed instruction, but its soul is that of a narrative. And it's in the storytelling that this book is most powerful and instructive. Both father and daughter display a penchant for writing as they relive, in often emotionally raw and painful detail, their conflicts. Charles speaks honestly about the struggle to continue to love his daughter in the face of her vitriol, and Heather speaks candidly about the jabs from fellow students and friends --- incidents adults often overlook as petty in the lives of their children --- that fed her frustration and rebellion.
DAUGHTERS GONE WILD, DADS GONE CRAZY is geared for fathers and daughters, but many of its lessons would well serve any combination of parent/child conflict. In fact, I'd encourage all parents to read this book, regardless of your children's behavior or age. It will make you a better parent and a better support for fellow parents dealing with out-of-control children.
--- Reviewed by Lisa Ann Cockrel
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