Michael Ross and Susie Shellenberger are well known in the realm of Christian books and magazines, both for and about teenagers. They’ve joined together in an ambitious effort to help parents understand the thoughts and feelings of their preteen and teenaged sons in order to help them navigate this critical stage of life.
When I married my husband, he was raising his 12-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son. We were both Christians and wanted to provide stability to the children, who had been seriously affected by their parents’ divorce. The books we bought and the tapes we listened to were all biblically sound and well meaning, but offered little in practical advice that we could use. It seemed like, if you hadn’t started dealing with all the issues when the kids were young, it was pretty much too late to start. Not so with WHAT YOUR SON ISN’T TELLING YOU. This easy-to-follow, user-friendly book offers practical advice that can be applied immediately.
For parents who have had some experience with child rearing, read books to help along the way, or taken classes on communication, there may not be too many surprises in the issues that young men deal with. Yet the authors do provide some eye-opening insights into the mysteries of teen thinking. The intensity of thoughts and feelings may explain some of the mood swings and strange behaviors that they exhibit. Peer pressure bombards from unexpected angles, and the values that guided past generations may seem ineffective in this cyber age.
Though Ross and Shellenberger address many basic issues, they do so from the vantage point of experts who have tested what is most significant. They share information and ideas that will help boys move into and through their teen years with less angst. While it may not surprise parents to learn that boys are constantly being tested, if not bullied, they may not be aware of how sensitive teens are to criticism and rejection. While they may realize that their former chatterbox barely talks to them in anything but monosyllabic grunts, they may not know how to approach the problem without causing a family eruption.
Depression, mixed emotions, sexual temptations and “male myths” are but a few of the topics explored. Parents are given step-by-step ways to approach their sons and break through the wall that kids seems to build up around themselves and their feelings. Using actual emails and letters from teenage boys, the authors leave no topic unturned.
If there is one thing I appreciated about WHAT YOUR SON ISN’T TELLING YOU, aside from the aforementioned, it is the inspiration it gave me to take a look at my own church family and offer some help and suggestions to the youth workers. So often traditional methods, while important, may not be enough to meet the needs of youth in this perilous world.
Reviewed by Maggie Harding on November 13, 2011