What would you do if your teenager told you she was going to join the Mormon church? That question hadn't occurred to me, but a new book on raising teenagers, Like, Whatever, has given me a new perspective on how to make faith, and questioning it, a bigger part of our family life.
That's just one of the surprising finds in this parenting book, which I came across via the suburban mom mafia, having met editor Rebecca Kahlenberg through another journalist mom at my daughter's preschool. Rebecca's the experienced mother of four, ages 19 through 6, but she says that she learned new tricks in the process of editing the book—including the science of why it's critical that kids get at least 100 hours of driving practice with a parent in the car before heading off on their own, which she's now in the midst of with her 15-year-old.
The book's chapters are written by parents, and in the first person, but it's heavily researched, with many of the writers being experts, not just moms and dads. It's also surprisingly upbeat, considering that it tackles tough subjects like drinking, drugs, sex, and discipline. "It's an optimistic look at raising teens," says Kahlenberg. "Looking at the magic and the mystery as well as the occasional misery. This is a time in kids' lives when you still have a big influence on them. Peers and media are also important, but you're still the parent." Some highlights:
"Don't just try to survive," says Kahlenberg. "Make the most of these years."