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STICKING WITH YOUR TEEN: How to Keep From Coming Unglued No Matter What
Joe White with Lissa Halls Johnson
Focus on the Family/Tyndale House Publishers
ISBN-10: 1589973151
ISBN-13: 9781589973152

Author of such books as FUEL, DARE 2B WISE and PURE EXCITEMENT, Joe White has made it a career of investing in the lives of youth via his written texts and acting as president of Kanakuk Kamps. White now teams up with another prolific young adult author, Lissa Halls Johnson, to offer parents tried-and-true practical ideas for sticking with teens during the most emotional (good or bad) spaces of time.

White and Johnson open the book with some personal thoughts and a few cheerleading-type challenges to hang in there with teens, despite the seemingly endless parade of emotional roller-coaster rides, unexpected detours and personal disappointments. Readers get a sense that both authors truly love kids and have experienced the ups and downs of rearing these ever-changing, always transforming individuals.

Within a 13-chapter format, White offers quotes from anonymous parents and kids alike that punctuate and highlight each section's topic at hand. Readers will find these brief statements alternately funny and sad, but all ring true to family life. The authors then jump in with the "experiment" of parenting. Citing one family's wake-up call, both literal and figurative, White shares one couple's dilemma when being awoken in the middle of the night to find that their son had not only stolen from a friend's truck, he'd been drinking, taking drugs and was at that moment running from the police. During the conversation, the same son announces his plan to move to Mexico once his friend gets his inheritance at age 18. Talk about a "wake-up" call.

White then offers a few other examples of home violence and discusses how times have changed; what parents lived out as "rebellion" during their teen years no longer exists in today's violent, up-charged climate. He asks parents to think hard about the following statements. If parents can respond with a "yes" to any of these, then White says, "Wake up, your relationship is already stretched, strained, or snapped." Further, White tells parents in half-jest, "Welcome to the club."

• My teen doesn't like me.
• I'm embarrassed for anyone to know what my family life is really like.
• I don't want anyone to know what my kid is doing.
• I don't like my teen's choices.
• I want to fix my teen.

Following this self-check, White and Johnson get into the nuts and bolts of the text and discuss practical ways for moms and dads to gauge if behavior is normal, and if not, then to anticipate their teen's triggers, which may have provoked the unhealthy or rebellious behavior. White encourages parents that it is never too late to begin listening, caring and investing in one's family. Offering his own parenting missteps as "don't do as I did" case scenarios, parents will have hope and find direction. Much of the text is interactive in scope, meaning that parents will be posed questions that require honesty and humility coupled with the stamina to start over and over and over.

Within this concise handbook, parents can expect to endure parenting boot camp on issues such as forgiveness (offering it and asking for it), dismantling the verbal walls and reconstructing healthy ones, making time and spending it with the family, and committing to a never-give-up mentally. One of the most reader-friendly aspects of STICKING WITH YOUR TEEN is that every chapter is short enough to read in a single setting, but provides enough "homework" to practice on before tackling the next subject.

   --- Reviewed by Michele Howe

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