Raising Successful Teens

Many parents, especially Christian parents, worry about the teen years. They know those are the years when their kids will start making independent choices about their faith and their morality. The secret to relatively calm teen years is working with your children when they are very young.

Unfortunately, many parents don’t understand how much time and effort they need to put into Christian parenting. Often parents don’t realize they need to make some adjustments in their parenting until their teen begins making poor choices. The good news is that it’s never to late to do the things your kids need to build strong faith foundations and develop to their godly potential. It may be more difficult if you have waited until your kids are teens, but it’s not impossible.

The new book Raising Successful Teens by Jeffrey Dean is a great primer for parents who are still struggling a bit with Christian parenting. The book covers most of the basics including the roles of parents in the lives of teens, cell phone usage, communication and more.

I appreciated the editing of the book. Although the paper quality is not as good as many books, the editors took the time to add headlines to the various sections within a chapter. It makes it much easier for a busy parent to quickly skim to find the sections they need the most.

The advice itself is basic, but practical. There’s nothing particularly novel about the author’s suggestions, but that’s okay. Successful Christian parents understand it’s the basics that make most of the difference. Raising a child to become an active, productive Christian who bears fruit isn’t a mystery. Research is showing there are several specific concrete things those parents do that strengthens the faith foundations of their kids. This book covers quite a few of them.

If you are looking for a book to help your teen who has already made some life changing poor choices, this book may be a bit too basic to help. For average Christian parents – especially those who haven’t focused on the spiritual growth of their kids – this book will give you a lot of great suggestions for ways to “help your child honor God and live wisely.”

This book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.

Confident Moms, Confident Daughters

Godly self-esteem can be tricky. Trying to help your daughters develop it is even tougher if you have your own issues with self-esteem. So what is the secret to raising daughters who are confident in godly ways?

Confident Moms, Confident Daughters by Maria Furlough attempts to answer that very question. In the forward of the book, the author shares about a time she went forty days with avoiding mirrors. She did it to try and stop comparing herself to the world’s ever changing standards of beauty. She wanted instead to try and see herself as God sees her. More importantly, she wanted to give that gift to her daughters.

The thing I appreciated the most about this book is that Furlough interviewed quite a few experts in various fields about the areas that most often cause women trouble with their self-esteem. I appreciated the author’s willingness to share her platform with others instead of trying to summarize their thoughts or choose a couple of random quotes.

Not only did that give the advice additional credibility, but it removed the issue of readers being expected to take advice from an author who is still having struggles with an issue, while also presenting herself as an expert. In this book, readers can identify with her struggles and then turn with her to experts for advice.

The advice covers everything from physical health to body weight and more. The experts range from physicians to therapists to young people. The book addresses underlying issues as well as giving practice advice.

Although the book is written from a Christian perspective, I wouldn’t consider it a Bible study. Some scriptures are shared, but not a lot of them. There are questions at the end of the chapter. Some chapters have questions that are basically secular, while others dig deeper in to scripture or godly principles and other faith type topics. I would think if you wanted to use this as part of a Bible study, you would need to add some more Bible content to it.

Over all, this is a solid book on self-esteem. It’s not memorable enough to be outstanding, but will help many mothers who struggle with self-esteem. Those who want to work on this issue with their daughters will definitely find it helpful.

A copy of this book was given to me free for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.

Dear Grandchild, This Is Me

One of the differences between life now and a hundred years ago is that it is less common for children to live near their grandparents. They may communicate on video calls, but often spend only a week or two together over the course of a year.

Which is unfortunate for Christian grandparents. Barna’s recent study on spiritually vibrant families found that grandparents were a major influence on the spiritual lives of many young people. If you can’t spend much time with your grandkids, how much influence can you have on their lives?

Which is why I love the new book Dear Grandchild, This Is Me by Waterbrook. Having a book for grandparents to record their memories for grandchildren is not a new concept. This book, however, has some additions which I think makes it stand out from others I have seen.

Grandparents will love that instead of being expected to write pages on one topic, each page has several shorter questions to answer. This makes it much easier to do a little bit at a time and actually complete the volume before your grandchildren are grandparents themselves.

The other thing I really appreciated is that periodically there are envelopes where grandparents can place letters they have written to their grandchild to be opened under certain circumstances. Having grandparents that passed away just in the last few years, I know how much I would treasure letters like that from them now.

The book has other fun features like a page to record your favorite things when you were younger and now (like candy and tv show). There are places for photos, recipes and even a mini-family tree. I especially like the places where it asks grandparents to give advice on various topics.

This is an attractive book that your grandkids will treasure as adults. The advice you write in its pages can still point them to God long after you are gone. Yes, you will have to make a duplicate for each grandchild, but since every child is different you would probably want to personalize it anyway. I don’t have any grandkids yet, but I’m saving this book for when God blesses us with one.

This book was given to us for free in exchange for our honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.

God Gave Us the Bible

One of the questions we get asked the most, is which Bible or Bible story book we recommend parents purchase for their children. There are a lot of factors to consider and what is best for one child may not work at all for another.

We are always interested when new Bible story books are released, as many parents use them for family devotionals. Recently, we were given the opportunity to review God Gave Us the Bible by Lisa Tawn Bergren. The book contains forty-five Bible stories “for little ones”.

The book is a pit of a puzzle. Although the length of the stories is shorter than story Bibles for older children, the vocabulary is more appropriate for them than very young children. Personally, I believe the length of the stories is too short for the aged child to whom the vocabulary might appeal. Children with that much sophisticated vocabulary can handle stories twice as long (or more).

The stories are also too short for a family devotional. Some Bible stories are only one page long – meaning a lot is summarized. It also means a lot of important details in stories are omitted entirely.

The other problem is the idea that the book is actually a book of stories a mother bear told other animals. While that can work for something like the principles shared in the Bernstein Bears books, it becomes a bit awkward in this context.

The young animals “listening” to the stories interject at times to make observations and ask questions. Young children are literal, concrete thinkers. So when a bear cub asks a question as if he or she were human, it just adds an unnecessary layer of confusion. The author could easily have used humans as those characters and eliminated the need for more explanations.

In the end, this book of Bible stories is fine. It’s just not great. If the children in your life find it interesting though, it’s worth exploring with them. Use it to help transition them to an NIrV Bible if they are old enough to read or another story Bible if they can’t.

This book was given to us for free in exchange for our honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.

Are You Radiant?

You may have seen the new Christian movie in theaters, Overcomer. As part of the promotion for the movie, several authors were asked to write books that addressed a similar theme – seeing ourselves as God sees us.

Radiant is the book written for “teen girls and young women” by Priscilla Shirer. Shirer is a popular Christian speaker and author. You may also remember her from the movie War Room a couple of years ago. (Shirer also stars in Overcomer.)

I had actually participated in a couple of Bible studies using Shirer’s earlier pre War Room books. I was hopeful this new book would be as good as those earlier studies.

It’s important to note that you don’t need to see the movie, for the book to make sense. In fact, she only brings up the movie once in a rather brief reference.

Radiant is divided into four major sections, each contains several chapters. The book reads smoothly though. If I hadn’t noticed the table of contents, I’m not sure I would have realized the book was subdivided into sections.

Shirer’s style is effective, because it’s conversational. She weaves scripture with personal stories and the concepts she wants young women to understand about God wants them to see themselves.

Although many young women will be drawn to the sections helping them rid themselves of negative thoughts of their appearance and for some their very worth, I hope ultimately they pay closer attention to the later chapters.

I love how Shirer uses David to discuss the concept that God may indeed have large special good works planned for our future. She points young women though, to focusing on developing and sharing their gifts by serving others now, by being faithful in the every day chances God sends your way. Focus on being faithful now and God will eventually show you His will for the future.

I only have one disappointment with the book and unfortunately it is major. Shirer spends several pages attempting to encourage young women to become Christians if they aren’t already. Which would normally be great – except she gives them misinformation and never clearly tells them what the Bible teaches.

If we are following the example of Jesus, we will be baptized. If we follow the examples found in Acts, we will be baptized by immersion. Acts 2:38 is about as clear as any scripture can be : “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Also note all examples of conversions in the book of Acts and scriptures like Romans 6:3-5. Baptism does not exclude faith, it is the outward expression of faith that God requires of His people.)

Yet Shirer suggests the sinner’s prayer – not mentioned in the Bible, not even invented until a couple of hundred years ago. It makes me so sad that someone as gifted by God as Shirer is not giving young women the instructions God gave them for how to become a Christian. Not only that, but by not being baptized, they aren’t receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit – the very gift that could make it easier for them to see themselves as God sees them.

Other than that very unfortunate section though, the book has a lot to offer young women who are perhaps struggling with their self image and their place in God’s Kingdom. It’s up to readers to decide whether or not that section limits the usefulness of giving the book to the young women they know.

This is book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.