Kevin Huggins, a biblical counselor and minister, wrote this book in 1989 to help parents of teenagers. I found this book, because another book about parenting teenagers recommended it. I read most of the book over the course of a few days last year, but I have referred to it several times since then. He shares several insights with parents that help us to remember what it was like to be a teenager.
What Do Teenagers Want?
Like everyone else, teenagers have desires in their hearts that they are seeking to fulfill. According to Huggins, their three most basic desires are quite straightforward: security, impact on the world, and love (62-68). As a result, they are often trying to answer two questions. One, “what kind of person do I have to be to really be wanted and loved?” Two, “what kind of person do I have to be to make an impact that lasts?” (118-9). In order to have their basic desires met, teens employ a mixture of wise and foolish strategies. The appearance of foolish strategies can worry, frustrate, and trouble their parents. Sometimes the foolish strategies that teens use are simply an intensification or adaptation of strategies that they have been using since childhood (123-4).
So What Is a Parent to Do?
Huggins tries to show us how to direct our kids to seek God, who can help them to find security, the possibility for impact, and love. He also provides parents with advice and encouragement for the journey. What do our kids most need from us? They need “unconditional involvement” and “uncompromising responsiveness” (130-131). “Unconditional involvement from another teaches him that he doesn’t have to be anybody but himself to be loved and wanted” (130). Regarding unconditional involvement, “as a parent takes whatever initiative is necessary to develop her teen’s awareness of the true impact his choices are having on God, others, and himself, the child can begin to understand and appreciate the significance his life really has in God’s eyes.” Furthermore, “parents have the responsibility to respond to their kids’ purposes and actions in a way that encourages kids to attach the same significance and meaning to them that God does” (131). Ultimately, the parents of teens want to help their teen see “God’s sufficiency to meet his deepest longings for love and impact” (131).
This all sounds good, but how are parents supposed to do this? If this is your question, you should read the rest of the book! Even though this book was written in 1989, I do not feel like teenagers have changed so much that Huggins’s advice is out of date.
Complete Book Information:
Kevin Huggins. Parenting Adolescents. Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1989.