I am the stepmom to a teenage son. Sometimes life gets complicated because we are homeschooling, he has two younger siblings, and I am a stepparent. Having the opportunity to review Parenting Beyond the Rules by Connie Albers (published by NavPress in alliance with Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) was a blessing for our family. While I was a high school teacher, parenting a teen is different than teaching one for 45 minutes a day, five days a week. It was great to read Albers' book and discover that I am parenting beyond the rules and doing a good job of it.
Connie Albers is a speaker and writer who has spent over 20 years working with teens. "Her practical content inspires and equips parents in the trenches" (book cover). Parenting Beyond the Rules is full of her experiences and the experiences of others to provide first-hand accounts of the difficult teen years and problems that might creep up.
"The teen years shouldn't be something we just try to survive."
One of the most important takeaways from Parenting Beyond the Rules is that relationships between teens and parents are so important. As parents, we need to pay special attention to our relationships and invest time and value into building them, nurturing them, and maintaining those relationships. As Albers states: "If you are reading this book, then you likely desire to build a strong family and cultivate healthy relationships" (15).
There are twelve chapters, a foreword, an introduction, an epilogue, and resources comprising a total of 219 pages in Parenting Beyond the Rules for practical advice to parents of teens. Each chapter presents real world examples, biblical references, and a "Wrapping It Up" section at the end (questions for the reader to reflect upon what they have read). Personally, I enjoy books like this that maintain a similar set up from chapter to chapter. This makes it easy to read and find exactly what may help your family at that moment – setting family goals, looking for strengths and weaknesses, or tackling tough topics.
While reading Parenting Beyond the Rules, I found myself taking many notes. The ideas that jumped out at me as a parent of a teen included the need to spend time with our kids, create an environment of grace, and model repentance. As parents we should model Christlike behaviors and show love in little ways as well as show love that has no strings attached. I also appreciated the reminder that our children watch how we handle difficult responsibilities (like taking care of are aging parents) and learn from us.
There is so much wonderful advice in Parenting Beyond the Rules that I recommend—if you are a parent—you pick up a copy to see what words of wisdom you can find for yourself! If you are in need of a practical 'handbook' to help you raise your teens with God in mind, then Parenting Beyond the Rules might the perfect book for you to read. Raising teens does not need to be so difficult and "children are your most important ministry" (85).