Sunday, 1 June 2014

Book Review: Parenting for the Launch

Parenting for the Launch
By Dennis Trittin and Arlyn Lawrence

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Key strategies for parents of teens in the crucial window before that "launch" into the real world. Learn how to set them up for success through effective communication, valuing and cultivating their unique strengths, and empowering versus control. Help your teens build a strong personal leadership foundation that will enable them to live successful, independent lives of purpose, integrity, and impact.

What I thought:
Dennis Trittin and Arlyn Lawrence are an impressive partnership as they team up to share their real-life wisdom in parenting teens for life beyond home in their newest book, ‘Parenting for the Launch’.  With a style that includes personal experiences and advice from broader sources this book will no doubt be one parents of teens will seek out as a guide to preparing their teens for life in the real world. 

This book is broken into three areas of preparation:  destination preparation, relationship preparation, and transition preparation.  In the first section, ‘destination preparation’, I was reminded to begin with the end in mind.  Trittin and Lawrence advise parents to keep in mind that the children we launch are no longer our ‘babies’, but young adults.  We need to keep this goal in mind and be intentional about parenting in such a way as to teach our young people the skills they will require and empower them to be as prepared as possible to be independent.   We need to “give them wings, not strings”.

The section on ‘relationship preparation’ focuses on recognising and valuing the unique gifts and talents of our children and young people, and speaking into their lives in positive ways.  Here the authors provide some sobering and poignant advice to parents about letting children live their own dreams.  It is so important that we teach and encourage our children to understand the way they were created and to dream their own dreams for the future.  When we push them to live our dreams we stifle who they are, and dare I say it, stifle who God intended for them to be.  The advice in this section that resonated most strongly for me is to know the third party voice, or influencers, in our people’s lives.  It is important that parents are intentional about widening the circle of influence as our children grow so that when they are teens the adult voices in their lives are those that we trust to give our teens wise counsel that we ourselves would give.

‘Transition preparation’ gives parents food for thought and helpful advice about the launch procedure, where parents move from the “driver’s seat” to the “passenger seat”.  This is a particularly relevant picture of the short process of teaching children to drive; where we place them in the driver’s seat of the car and instruct them carefully about the skills and decisions they are responsible to make.  And then all of a sudden they are off and driving without our instruction at all.  Our parenting needs to be like that in the final days before our young people leave home!

I found some of the content of this book was specifically related to the American experience of driving at 16 and leaving home for college at 18 years old.  In Australia our children get their driver’s licence at 18 and the majority (not all!) expect to live at home while they complete university and vocational training.  It is perhaps for this reason I found some of the advice a little over the top.  Despite this, there is much to be gleaned from this book no matter where you live because at some point your baby will all of a sudden be leaving home and it is so vitally important that they are well prepared for this reality.  ‘Parenting for the Launch’ should be required reading for parents of young people, well before they are preparing to leave home!

*  With thanks to Icon Media Group for my review copy.
*  This review is my own opinion and not coerced in any way. 

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