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If you think this is about YOU, maybe you should go reconcile with your parent and work to get back your kids instead of continuing to be a jerk. If you think I am you, or similar to you, welcome! :-)

Friday, January 27, 2012

REVIEW: How to Have a New Teenager by Friday

When my older kids were small, I stumbled on a book called How To Make Your Children Mind Without Losing Yours. The author, Kevin Lehman, touted the theory of Reality Discipline, or as he put it, "Pulling the rug out from the little buzzards." It was extremely helpful in the raising of Madame and the Boy, especially when I was parenting solo. 

Over the years, Dr. Lehman and I haven't always agreed. We most certainly don't agree on homeschooling, that's for sure! Fortunately, Dr. Lehman is not one to force his advice on others; in fact, he states in several of his books that if one doesn't agree with him, to go as far as ripping out the offending pages.

With those caveats in mind, Dr. Lehman has recently (4 months ago or so) published a new book called Have a New Teenager by Friday. Dr. Lehman, having been a slacker teen before slacker was cool, has also raised five (count 'em) children, and one is still at home. By and large, it offers a great deal of practical advice for dealing with teens.

This is where the good doctor (psychologist, not MD or psychiatrist) and I don't agree in his most recent book:
  • I think children need to be paid for chores, and face the consequences of not being paid. Most of you already know I am a big fan of Dave Ramsey and Phil Lenahan (Dave is more entertaining, doesn't believe in obtaining credit excepting the mortgage, is dead-set against whole life insurance, but isn't Catholic). I am all for turning over the portion of the family budget to older kids and teens to plan their purchases such as clothes and other necessities for the year, but I am NOT a fan of the allowance. Dr. Lehman is. Get sufficient information, know your teen's strengths and weaknesses, and proceed accordingly. Belle is getting her portion of the clothing budget and doing quite well with it, by the way. It's also not a stretch to let kids handle some of the bills from the family budget, by looking them over for mistakes, and allowing them to log into ebanking to pay said bills from the family checking account.
  • He seems to like to blame the parental figure for the behavior of the teen. This seems to conflict with Reality Discipline, or for that matter, the free will choices adolescents exhibit. Dr. Lehman does mention parents who have done everything right, yet the teen or adult child has free will that allows them to be stupid and make horrible choices. 
  • Dr. Lehman's section in the back of the book called "Ask Dr. Lehman" has a section on pregnancy. I agree strongly that babies should not be aborted, and that babies of young teens should be adopted into loving homes with two mature parents, a mom and a dad. I think it's nice that some families actually consult a psychologist, pastor or other Christian person when this reality occurs. Obviously, Dr. Lehman doesn't realize that if a third-party counselor is used at all to discuss a teen pregnancy in the United States, it's too often a school counselor, and too many of them aren't up to the task, certainly not from a Christian perspective. The choice is usually left up to the mother, not the grandparents, not the father. The teen mother is supplied then with a myriad of information on collecting various forms of welfare and free medical care. Older teens and young adults need to decide what to do about that, but they aren't so close to the child years. Dr. Lehman doesn't go into detail on what to do when a young teen decides, against the pleadings of her boyfriend and parents, to keep her baby, then more or less abandons said baby. He certainly doesn't go into what to do when an adult child attempts to kill her own children, no longer babies; or beats them; or as if often the case, neglects and abandons them in favor of sex, drugs and alcohol, forgetting everything they learned at home in their growing-up years. I certainly hope he wouldn't recommend allowing those grandchildren to go off to foster care because Grandma and Grandpa already raised their children as a form of reality discipline! I don't know. But it is a book about teens and parents, not adult children and parents. Perhaps Dr. Lehman will favor us with a book about grandparents who raise grandchildren. While we wait, don't read this and look upon it as an indictment of grandparents raising grandchildren if you are in that situation on either side. 
  • Dr. Lehman warns parents of divorce NEVER to mention anything bad about the ex- EVER. While I think fixating upon and harping about the ex, and in this case, the parent(s) of the grandchildren, is a very, very bad idea- Sometimes it needs to be said. Not all the time. Not constant harping. But if the kid comes to a conclusion, if the adult child is skipping massive amounts of visitation or not visiting at all, if Lulabelle sends one kid enough toys for a day care center and a pack of Uno cards to the other, then yes, I think it's OK to say something. I think times have changed from the 80 and 90s where custodial parents were told by experts NEVER to say anything bad about the Absent One, to the point where care takers were told to buy presents for the kids and put the Absent One's name on them!   
 Now then, there is a LOT on which I do agree. I certainly agree that parents, whether retread or first-run, get in the habit of seeing their children as children, and don't tend to notice that they need to be treated differently at different ages. 

I agree teens need to be trusted whenever possible, need to be caught doing good instead of constantly nagged, need much more freedom than their younger siblings, and need a strong foundation in good morals and habits that will see them into adulthood. I know the hormone group, as he refers to teens, has trouble seeing the forest for the trees, see every little imperfection in themselves, and therefore everything in their lives is magnified. 

I was certainly thrilled with the idea that if one is going to turn a teen loose on the road with a car, then one better trust that teen! I've known too many kids who expect to receive their own set of keys at 16, when they are nowhere near ready to drive. I also know too many parents who feel it is a must to give a kid a car. I was also pleased to see a tip I figured out long ago: Hire a driving school if at all possible, instead of taking your teen out to drive. Saves nerves, saves lives.

The section on the Internet and social networking is certainly worth a perusal. One segment of Society would have us believe social networking is the work of the devil, while others would have us believe teens should have access to everything and anything. Dr. Lehman has a balanced approach that makes sense.

Retread parents of all persuasions would benefit from reading Have a New Teenager by Friday. My advice on this advice book is to check it out of the library first. If you find yourself with the desire to break out the highlighter on the library's property, by all means, get yourself your own copy, paper or Kindle. If you disagree more than agree with the book, take it back to the library. You're then not out the $12 that you could use someplace else.

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