“Behind Closed Doors” ~ parenting teens in today’s world (a review)

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Do you feel confident parenting your teens (or your children who will be teens someday) in today’s world? Because our teens face a world that didn’t exist when we were teenagers. Then, there was no such thing as vaping. Texting. Or for that matter, sexting. Present-day teens’ mental health concerns include anxiety and depression, as well as the stress that social media use can produce. I was thrilled to receive Jessica L. Peck’s exceptional guidebook, Behind Closed Doors. As a pediatric nurse practitioner, she cared for young patients who faced all these stressors and life issues…and more. This book is her response to the issues our kids face today, and as the subtitle says, it is “A Guide to Help Parents and Teens Navigate Through Life’s Toughest Issues.”

From the publisher

Behind Closed Doors is a practical guide for parents guiding their tweens and teens through cultural change and modern-day health threats. Jessica Peck, a pediatric nurse practitioner and mom of four, helps parents escape the secrecy and shame surrounding challenging moments and find freedom in honest conversations grounded in faith in Christ.

There are many jokes about the difficulties of raising a teenager, but beneath these jokes parents are hurting and feeling helpless while their teens are navigating extraordinary cultural challenges unlike anything faced by previous generations. Teens are feeling more isolated, anxious, and depressed. But how can we help them effectively navigate social challenges when we don’t have the social skills to communicate authentically with dignity and compassion? How do we create safe spaces in a seemingly unsafe world?

Jessica Peck (DNP, APRN) has spent countless hours advising and encouraging parents after talking to their teens behind closed doors.  Jessica seeks to move the private conversations that happen in the clinic to relationship-building conversations at home. 

Behind Closed Doors is a guided lifeline to help parents assess their teen’s emotional, physical, and spiritual health, and to ultimately help them strengthen their connection with their kids. She has divided her book into three sections:

  • Behind the Clinic Door: professional advice for parents on tough teenage issues from a health impact lens, sharing true stories of patients.
  • Behind the Home Door: suggested settings, activities, and question prompts to give parents conversation keys to unlock doors for open dialogue with their teens on tough issues and meet them at their point of need.
  • Behind the Heart Door: a time of reflection and spiritual application for parents to explore devotional readings, relevant Bible verses, Scripture-based prayers for parents, themed Christian music playlists, and prompts to write 12 Legacy Letters, a generational keepsake for teens.

Covering topics including mental health, social media, suicide, sexting, substance abuse, gender identity, and more, Jessica Peck’s book will encourage and strengthen all parents—married, single, or divorced; grandparents, stepparents, godparents, bonus parents, adopted parents—anyone who is serving a parental role in a teen’s life.

My thoughts

Parenting. The joy, responsibility, and in so many ways, it is the job that utterly humbles you. How desperately we need not only the Lord’s counsel but the mentorship of parents who have gone before us. I’m so glad to say that Jessica Peck really is that parent. I loved this book, and her wise, humble, and compassionate ideas for parenting our children today. I found so much wisdom and direction that I could apply to my own parenting journey. In fact, in addition to highlighting and tabbing pages that were meaningful, I also began taking notes in a journal (for quick reference!).

Your teens absolutely, 100 percent, for sure are talking to someone about this topic. You have the amazing privilege to choose if that person will be you.

Jessica L. Peck

Here are some vital ideas, many of which are really themes we can add to our own parenting:

  • Converse with LOVE (Listen with your face, Offer open-ended questions, Validate feelings, Explore next steps together). We can be so used to the directive parenting that littles need. But teens and tweens have different needs altogether. This conversation style can help us to help our teenaged children know that we are hearing them; that we value them; that we aren’t rushing to judgment (or condemnation). All these set the stage for the last stage, Exploring next steps together. What a wonderful way to begin to equip them for adulthood–plus letting our kids know we value them so deeply.
  • Talk with your teens about social media. Cyberbullying, catfishing, cyberstalking, trolling–and even human trafficking–can be rampant for teens online. And it’s not just those issues; the verbal cruelty, isolation, and raging that happens to children and teens as they game with others online are utterly heartbreaking. Potentially soul-crushing. Think about the hurtful moments in our own child or teen years. Think also of Joseph’s life; a man who endured horrible suffering AND healing (Genesis 37-50). Can you work through that process in your own life (weeping, forgiving, trusting in God)? As Jessica encourages us to do, we can then reflect/pray/and act in faith and for healing alongside our teens. (I also wholeheartedly recommend therapy/counseling if that pain is too deep for us to heal ourselves.)
  • There’s an amazing postscript chapter called “How to Heal Generational Hurts.” Did you know that not only eye color or body style can be passed down in families, but also generational pains or curses? Peck references a 1997 Kaiser Permanente Health study (authored by Vincent Felitti and Robert Auda) that connected childhood trauma (specifically, ACEs, or adverse childhood experiences) to adult health outcomes. Here’s a short summary from Peck: “Tolerable stress is facing serious events when you are buffered by supportive relationships. Toxic stress happens when the stress response is activated repeatedly without a support system…the best protective factor to avoid a toxic stress response? It’s the presence of a supportive adult in a child’s life.” What an encouragement!

In closing

Do you look at this list of topics and feel as though you’re relatively (or completely) unprepared to talk with your teen about them?

  • Mental health
  • Social media
  • Cyberbullying
  • Suicide
  • Vaping
  • Substance abuse
  • Divorce
  • Sex and sexting
  • Porn
  • Social justice
  • Gender identity
  • Eating disorders

It’s a daunting list, isn’t it? But this is a list of ideas or events that our teens are very familiar with; or maybe, they THINK that they know everything about them. Perhaps the last thing in the world they want is to talk with mom or dad about these. Wouldn’t you love to be prepared to, though? Wouldn’t you want to be able to sit down and clearly and lovingly talk about these with your teen?

This is the book for you then. It certainly has been for me. And while Behind Closed Doors does give guidelines and ideas for these talks, at its heart it’s a book about relationship and communication. To help us as parents to build open, vulnerable, honest, and LOVING communication with our teens. Then we can have the hard–but incredibly important–conversations, and do our best to equip our teens for the world we live in.

Get a copy of this book. You’ll be so, so glad you did; and your children will reap wonderful rewards.

You can enter to win a copy of Behind Closed Doors

BlessedFreebies.com is giving away a copy of Behind Closed Doors to a winner. Just click on the giveaway link below. That will take you to the giveaway page. Scroll down and you’ll find the entry info. Giveaway closes 11/7/22. Best wishes!

Behind Closed Doors giveaway link

Where you can purchase Behind Closed Doors

Click on this link to purchase Behind Closed Doors. That will take you to the Thomas Nelson website, which will direct you to your choice of booksellers. In addition, you can download for free a printable Legacy Letter package (a wonderful tool to pour blessing into your child’s life) and a microblog video series with Jessica.

Be blessed in your parenting journey! –Wren

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author. All opinions shared here are my own honest ones.

2 thoughts on ““Behind Closed Doors” ~ parenting teens in today’s world (a review)

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