When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.— Mark Twain
The usual theme in a book on parenting teens is good communication. But what if you feel like all you do is yell at your teen? What if every conversation you have with your 14-going-on-25-year-old turns into an argument?
My oldest daughter spent her teenage years with both parents in the home. My youngest entered hers when her dad and I divorced. I wish I’d made different choices in how I interacted with both of them, and a how-to manual would have been great during those teenage years.
About the book
Parenting teens with love and logic: Preparing adolescents for responsible adulthood by Jim Fay and Foster Cline is a guide for parents who want to teach their teens how to be adults who make responsible decisions.
The authors have created an easy-to-read resource for moms and dads to parent their teens with logic and empathy in order to prepare them to become mature young adults.
This book can assist you with:
- Understanding how to help teenagers learn responsibilities
- Understanding how your teens are changing-physically, mentally, and emotionally
- Understanding specific challenges that teens face and how to talk with them
What is love-and-logic parenting?
According to the authors, teens need to be raised with both love and logic.
Love for a teenager doesn’t mean you shield them from everything that could harm them. It also doesn’t mean tolerating disrespectful or illegal behaviors. Love means your goal is to have a healthy relationship with your teenager, and you’re teaching them to make their own decisions. This also means you have to let them live with the consequences of the mistakes they’re bound to make.
The logic part is mainly for you as parents. You can use logic combined with empathy to help your teens figure out for themselves how their decisions will have either good outcomes or bad consequences. The logic approach enables your teen to accept the responsibility for their actions and understand that they are ultimately the ones who have to solve their own problems.
Navigating the book
I chose to start at the beginning. I wanted to better understand the authors’ reasons for using logic instead of emotions in raising teenagers. After all, humans are emotional creatures, and at our core, we experience and react to others through our feelings. When it comes to raising teenagers, an emotional reaction is oftentimes the cause of stressful and challenging situations.
You can choose to skip to Part 3 of Parenting teens with love and logic, where the authors have provided “pearls” of love and logic for different situations you may encounter while raising your teen. Issues such as eating disorders, curfews, dating, and mood swings are covered, with each section including real-life scenarios.
Part 1: Love and logic basics
The authors explain the differences in parenting styles.
- Helicopter parents: Those are parents who “hover” over their teens, are overly involved in all aspects of their teen’s life, and step in when their teen has a conflict to solve it for them.
- Drill sergeant parents: These are the parents who use harsh punishment for minor infractions; they lack empathy and appreciation for a teen’s individuality, and they demand obedience.
- Laissez-faire parents: These parents have no structure or routine for their teens; they don’t enforce any rules and provide no consequences for poor choices or bad behavior, preferring to be a friend to their teen.
The consultant parenting style is what the authors recommend as the best method to use. They purport that this style is the most effective way to raise teens who know how to make responsible decisions independently. The consultant parent is okay when a teen makes a mistake and is willing to allow them to experience the consequences of that mistake.
Core principles of love-and-logic parenting
Some core principles of love-and-logic parenting that the authors share are:
- Teens are best equipped when responsibility is “caught” instead of “taught.”
- Teens need to handle their own problems and come up with solutions.
- Teens gain control over their life through their choices.
- Teens can learn to set limits through critical thinking.
- Teens need empathy and consequences to succeed.
For me, the most interesting section of Part 1 was where the authors explain the differences between self-esteem, self-image, and self-concept. Teens can be greatly confused by the differences in these. Cline and Fay include some ways in which parents can unintentionally damage their teens’ self-concept, and these were eye-openers.
Teenagers see their bodies (self-image) and their achievements (self-esteem) above their self-concept. When a teen has a negative body image, they can be more susceptible to depression, anxiety, and suicide. When teenagers place their academic achievements above all else, thinking test scores or grades define them, they can stress themselves to the point of illness. It’s important that parents are intentional in helping their teens see that their self-concept is what will keep them secure in themselves and their future decisions.
Choices, choices, choices
The authors finish out Part 1 by helping parents understand they have the right to insist on respect and to maintain control over the home environment. They need to also recognize that teens need to be allowed to make their own choices. When children go from concrete to abstract thinkers as teenagers, a movement happens in their minds and behaviors.
When your teen approaches you with a situation, and you don’t agree with them, give them these choices:
- Would you rather….?
- What do you think would be best for you….?
Your teen may give you a third choice, and then you have the option of accepting it or asking them a follow-up question: If that’s your choice, okay, but how are you going to handle it when….?
Part 2: Relax, understand, and get ready
Cline and Fay encourage parents to relax and remember that their time with a moody, sometimes disrespectful teenager will not last. According to the authors, you have 2 choices on how to approach this period:
- Spend the time thinking about everything that could go wrong
- Spend your energy thinking about how to build a positive relationship with your teen
They hope parents will take the time to understand how their teenager is changing in their thoughts, values, sexuality, and appearance. Your child is entering the stage of life that can be compared to a hurricane. You need to remain a calm weatherperson in order to help them see the value in logically approaching their world.
To help you better understand what is happening in your teen’s world, the authors talk about internal body changes and external factors teenagers face.
Teens’ bodies change rapidly and sometimes shockingly to them, both boys and girls. Their views are also changing, especially with the influence of the outside world. As you watch them go through all of these things, recognize this is a time of opportunity for your teenager.
Teens will develop:
- New ways of thinking
- New ways of relating
- New paths to explore
- New ways to rebel
- New ways to attempt to control their world
- New ways to learn to grow
So let them go and grow
This is the emphasis of the last chapter in Part 2—let them go and grow. The authors suggest that you have 3 rules and 3 messages for your teenager.
- Respect is expected. As I respect you, you respect me.
- Doing chores is expected.
- Performing well in school is expected, and help will be given where needed.
- You are loved.
- You are always able to ask me questions.
- You are wished good luck in your life.
You only have 18 years with your child to prepare them for the real world. Remember: the goal is to raise a responsible adult who can think logically for themselves and show love for others, as you’ve shown it to them.
Part 3: Love-and-logic pearls of wisdom
Do you wish there was a simple formula you could follow to understand your teenager’s way of thinking and reacting?
Are you looking for a way to learn how to respond to their reactions instead of reacting yourself?
The third part of Parenting teens with love and logic is where you’ll put the rubber on the road, as they say. The authors go through skills to use as a consultant parent. This last part gives you the practical application of those skills in 37 different areas where you may find your teenager struggling.
There’s a wealth of information on these areas, and you’ll find sample dialogues, discussions, and advice on how to deal with common behavior problems you may face when parenting a teenager.
As a parent who spent the first 14 years dealing with my children from an emotional perspective, Parenting Teens with Love and Logic has certainly helped me see what I could have done differently. If you are or are about to be the parent of a teenager, this book could be a great addition to your parenting toolbox.
Greatly encouraging and insightful, this book helps parents understand the changes teenagers go through. Learning to parent the love-and-logic way can help you raise a responsible and productive adult.
As a side note, this book contains viewpoints in specific areas which may be considered questionable. Overall, the book provides excellent strategies for teaching teens to be responsible for their own choices; however, some of the authors’ opinions can appear intolerant and archaic.
Parenting Teens with Love and Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood
- Parents should remain calm to help kids see the value in logically approaching their world.
- Parenting with love ensures you have a healthy relationship with your teenager.
- Parenting with logic enables your teen to accept the responsibility for their actions.
You need this if...
- You want your teens to learn how to manage responsibilities and face their own consequences.
- You'd like to understand teen changes and challenges and help them grow.
- You want to raise responsible teens without power struggles.