For a couple of years now, I’ve heard good things about a book called Parenting With Love and Logic. So I bought Parenting Teens With Love and Logic, which is essentially the same book with the same concepts, but geared a bit more towards teens.
I agree with the general concept of this book: allow kids to experience the natural consequences of their actions whenever possible. Don’t argue and fight, don’t set rules you can’t truly enforce, don’t parent with anger. An example would be if your teen earned poor grades, rather than grounding the child (which doesn’t happen in grown-up life), you could tell them that their good-student discount won’t apply to car insurance anymore, so if they would like to continue driving, they will have to get their grades up or pay the increase in auto insurance.
The book also does a good job of pointing out that there really are physiological changes happening in the teen years, even in how the brain develops and becomes more logical in thinking.
But in some situations, the advice just seems cold. Although encouraged to show empathy (without rescuing our kids from whatever problem they have, like in failing a test, etc), a suggested phrase is, “Good luck with that.” Really? I think we can let the kids experience consequences without sounding downright rude to them.
Although published as a Christian book, I simply can’t call it that. There are a few references to church, a few times the authors advise praying about a matter before dealing with it, and I think there is one time a Bible verse is mentioned. But the book seems to assume that nearly every teen will be rebellious, trouble-making and hard to get along with. The authors have, in my opinion, written from a very worldly point of view. In one story, for instance, a girl comes down the steps dressed for school in an extremely short skirt, and her father asks her to consider what she is wearing before they leave the house. When the daughter says that all the girls wear this sort of thing, he concedes, and when he drops her off at school, he sees that she is right after all; once the father learns that other girls at school dress the same way, he is okay with it. Never is any mention made of considering modesty or whether a super-short skirt might be causing the boys at school to lust after her.
Another example is in asserting that dating is most valuable as a way for teens to learning how to relate to the opposite sex, and the writers assume that teens “are not courting to find the person they will marry.” Suggested guidelines for talking to your teen about dating are to let them know your beliefs about when it is wise to have (or not have) sex, and to help them decide when they should be home from a date. It’s also advised to warn boys about the fact that laws would require them to pay child support for 18 years if they get a girl pregnant, and to let girls know that your home is a two-generation home which means if they have a baby, they can’t live with you.
The book deals with helping teens through the divorce of the parents. I’ve written about my thoughts on that before. I do agree that parents must make sure the child (of any age) knows the divorce is not the fault of the child. But in advising how to let the kids know that a divorce is impending, a note like this one is suggested (and I quote from the book): “Mom and I have figured out a plan that we think will help us all live much happier lives… we have decided to get a divorce… I know you love your sister but can you imagine living a whole lifetime with her? We have decided that we don’t want to live a whole lifetime together either.” I don’t even know where to start with how I feel about this, other than disgusted. This is worldly thinking, that siblings shouldn’t enjoy each other, that our own personal happiness is more important that pleasing God, that marriage vows can be treated lightly.
While there are a few good nuggets in here, overall I simply cannot recommend Parenting Teens with Love and Logic. If you are looking for a good parenting book, I recommend this Biblically-based book on teaching kids honor instead: Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes…