Review by Kathy Kuhl For parents of children ages 8 to 14 (the “tween” years), there’s new help. While there are books on raising little ones, and resources (and angst) on raising teens, there has been little for the ones in the middle. Hal and Melanie Young, however, recently wrote a clear helpful book for just those parents. No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope fills a need I didn’t know we had.
[Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book. I received nothing else from the authors, nor did I promise to review it.]
Why a Book on Raising Tweens?
The Youngs make the case that children this age deserve special attention. First of all, those big hormonal changes everyone worries about when puberty hits actually begin years before the physical signs appear. “Researchers have found both sexes [in this age range] have hormonal surges exceeding fifty times the normal, stable levels they have in adulthood.” In the Young household, whose first 6 kids were boys, this is jokingly known as “PMS—Pre-Manhood Syndrome.” (Note: the book did not seem to focus on raising sons. Daughters get equal attention.)
In addition, Hal and Melanie make the case that the tween period is a critical time spiritually, intellectually, and relationally. In their introduction, the Youngs explain that only when their third child hit the preteen years did they began to recognize these “tween” patterns:
- organized child becomes a space cadet,
- compliant child becomes combative,
- calm child becomes rocked by emotion.
Why? It’s the hormones. Hal and Melanie help you recognize the many consequences of preadolescence and show you how to cope with tween problems.
No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope packs lots of insight and interesting content in a very readable style. Each chapter is focused, and each subsection has a clear and helpful heading. Each paragraph also keeps focus. Furthermore, they weave illustrations, quotations, humor and data together smoothly. Reading this book is like sitting down for a good conversation.
Hal and Melanie are Christian in their perspective. They quote scripture when appropriate, and advise on sharing Bible verses carefully with wayward kids. They don’t thump anyone on the head with the Bible–their kids or their readers!
So even if you don’t share those Christian beliefs, if you read with an open mind toward Christianity you’ll find nuanced views on everything related to tweens, from sibling squabbles to sexual development. You’ll also see how a thoughtful Christian worldview has deep insights and a full, rich view of the human experience.
If you don’t already know Hal and Melanie Young, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. They are popular homeschool conference speakers and the parents of six boys and two girls. (Four are grown.) They also have kids with learning challenges, and a real heart for our struggling learners.
The Youngs are best known for writing Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching, and Appreciating Boys. They also authored My Beloved and My Friend: How to Be Married to Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses, and Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality. (You get a hint of their humor in those first two titles.) I enjoy their blog, as well. So if you have a chance to hear them speak, go!
Like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but with good sense, No Longer Little emphasizes that we need to stay calm. To quote the back cover, tweens “ride an emotional rollercoaster… and invite you to climb aboard! Don’t get a ticket for that ride.”
But Hal and Melanie don’t just tell you to use a calm voice and remember you’re an adult. They have detailed, practical suggestions in many areas related to raising a tween.
- Chapter 1: Physical changes and their emotional impacts
- Chapter 2: “The Rollercoaster,” and how to stay off that ride of emotions
- Chapter 3: “Brains Turn to Mush”— why, and how to help them cope
- Chapter 4: On spiritual questioning and doubt—particularly wise and practical
- Chapter 5: Awakening of sexual interest
- Chapter 6: Overcoming social awkwardness and anxiety, bullying (from both sides), and general goofy senseless behavior (“gormlessness”)
- Chapter 7: Movies, media, computer games: the power of art, how to have good conversations
- Chapter 8: Conflict in the family –“Fight so you both win.”
- Chapter 9: Thinking about the transition to adulthood
- Chapter 10: Manhood and womanhood ceremonies, creating your own
- Chapter 11: Training tweens to be producers in a culture of consumers
- Chapter 12: Looking ahead to the teen years: setting academic and career goals, life skills, and the growth spurt ahead
I didn’t know this book needed to be written. But No Longer Little surprised me with its breadth and practicality. As I told the authors, I only wish I’d read it twenty years ago. (They probably do, too!) And now that it is written, I can recommend No Longer Little for anyone with little ones or tweens, or anyone working with that age group.
- Hal and Melanie Young’s books:
- At RaisingRealMen.com, Hal and Melanie Young blog. They share movie reviews, resources on Internet safety, and much more. They also sell their books and their wonderful craft kits on this site.
- The Youngs and I also recommend Paul Tripp’s book, Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens