She’s Almost a Teenager: Essential Conversations to Have Now
by Peter and Heather Larson and David and Claudia Arp
She’s Almost a Teenager isn’t a full-scale parenting method or even an all-around guide to your daughter’s tween years. Instead, it’s a guide to eight conversations to have with your tween girl now before media, friendships, peer pressure, and hormones make these conversations more difficult. Each chapter introduces the themes of the conversation to have with your daughter: the big-picture, friends, academics, body, faith, boys, money and technology. At the end of the chapter, they include the major questions to ask your daughter. The idea isn’t to talk at your child; this isn’t about making speeches. It’s about dialogue. Ask her what she thinks and then listen and respond.
I like the idea of starting these conversations young. Sometimes we want to put off talking about ‘boys’ and then by the time it’s an issue, the conversations are heated or emotional. The authors joked that you might not want to talk about a smartphone when your daughter is ten, but they promised, “She’s thinking about it already!’ So, open that conversation right up. What are her thoughts about getting a phone? What are yours? What expectations do you have for who will buy it, who will pay for the plan, how she’ll take care of it, etc? Better to talk it over than to avoid it and get surprised by conflict later.
The book is clearly written for parents of tween girls, although the same basic format, ideas, and even a lot of the topics they cover could be adapted for boys also.
One of the things I appreciated about the authors is that they told you right from the beginning where they are coming from as either parents who currently have tween daughters or parents who have already been through their kids’ teen years. This is huge for me. I’m currently reading another parenting book written by the father of two kids under two years old. I have to admit it’s a little hard to value his advice and input on my parenting when his entire parental experience has lasted two years and he has no personal experience with children the same age as my kids. For me, having an author say, “I’m with you” or “I’ve been there” makes me vale their input even more.
The other thing I loved is their emphasis on parenting with long-term goals in mind. This meant learning to know what really matters to us as parents and when we need to let things go. If your child worked diligently and faithfully in a class at school and still ended up with a C, and she doesn’t intend to major in that field in college or in any way make a career of it, can we let it go? Can we get over a hairstyle we don’t like if she’s following the Lord, doing well in school, and being responsible? We as parents know deep down that what matters is salvation and safety and integrity, but our messages to our kids sometimes suggest otherwise. If your daughter says that what matters to you is that she brushes her teeth, gets straight A’s, and keeps her room clean, then maybe there’s a problem.
They conclude the book with two ideas that I loved: Project Thirteen and Birthday Boxes. I’ve read a lot of parenting suggestions for how to help your child have a “rite of passage” into adulthood, but these are probably my favorite. They are projects to do along with your child in order to prepare them to take on adult responsibilities (so they don’t end up living at home at 35 or out on their homew with no life skills!).
I don’t know that there’s anything hugely revolutionary in the topics the author covered, but I loved having this as an all-in-one-place resource! The authors also encourage you to make the conversations your own. You know your child. Would this work best in 8 formal parent-daughter dates? Around the dinner table? Would they be best as casual conversations that flow at just the right time in the minivan on the way to volleyball? You decide and you tailor the conversations accordingly.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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