Raising Teens in a Hyper-Sexualised World is an espresso shot of grounded wisdom for Christian parents as they navigate how they might care and guide their children through the teenage years, particularly in a world where nearly everything has become sexualised.
Author Eliza Huie is a parent and Christian counsellor, and says her aim is to help parents engage more effectively with their teens on this topic. In particular, her concern is that sometimes children seem to be left to navigate this pervasive minefield alone, or alternatively parents simply engage with the subject too late. Instead she argues for a parent-teenager relationship that values continual communication rather than detachment, and models grace and forgiveness rather than simply prescribing correct behaviour.
The book is framed around seven ‘tips’ (or you might say ‘warnings’, given that each one is actually a negative recommendation): for example, ‘Don’t Overreact’ or ‘Don’t Disconnect’. As Eliza acknowledges, the chances are that if you’re a Christian parent to teenagers, you inevitably will have done these things! But her intention is not to cause despair at our failings, but to help parents learn to gradually develop a parenting culture that is increasingly alert to the pitfalls she flags up.
By the way, this book isn’t seeking to persuade you of the Bible’s understanding of sexuality, nor is it fleshing out how a Christian worldview engages with the culture(s) around us on this subject. Instead, Eliza is essentially seeking to help parents take their unique role and responsibility by the horns and to actually talk with their teenagers about the issue of sexuality. Of course, for some parents, that will already be their intention (even if in practice it’s harder than it sounds), whereas for others it may not be on their radar. For those in the latter category, this is a vital primer – even if it isn’t providing a comprehensive Christian perspective on sexuality. For those in the former category, this book is still likely to expose areas we haven’t considered and where perhaps the tone of our parenting could change.
Anecdotally, it seems parents can often grieve their child’s transition to the teenage years, and here I felt Eliza was especially helpful in highlighting the way our parenting needs to intentionally engage with these changes. For example, she encourages parents to see their role as shifting from being an authority to a positive influence. In that sense, the focus of the book is not so much on the teenager but on the posture of the parent. Parents are to walk with their children, rather than simply giving directives and ruling from a position over them; parents are to listen more and to talk less, and so “gain a greater voice into [their teenager’s] heart.”
10publishing have produced a number of short books that still pack a considerable punch, and at just 36-pages this is a prime example. It’s a quick but very stimulating read. It’s certainly not trying to be a one-stop manual for Christian parenting, and it assumes you’re already persuaded of Christian teaching on sexuality, but it will undoubtedly encourage you not to neglect the precious and privileged role of being a parent at an age where many may feel hesitant and default to ‘hands off’.
Disclaimer: The publisher has sent me a free copy of this book, but I hope this is still a fair and honest review.