When people find out I am a youth pastor and that I have been so for more than 6 months, I am often asked if I have aspirations for being a 'real' pastor. I have so many answers to this but that is an entirely different post. I think the questions comes partly from people's disbelief that anyone would actually choose to be around teenagers.
After all, we remember our teenage years and the limbo we often battled with. Some have raised teenagers in their own home and wondered what happened to the sweet little toddlers. Because the terrible two's weren't so bad, right?
It is for this reason I am glad to recommend Walt Mueller's book The Space Between: A Parent's Guide to Teenage Development. It's not his newest book, but this one is still timely.
Walt tackles the gamut on teenagers, from how they are changing physically, socially, intellectually, emotionally and even morally. He's got something here for everyone, from stats and figures to personal stories. His is a voice that can be trusted, not only because he has raised his own teenagers, but because he has dedicated his life to studying the culture of adolescence.
Along the way he offers tons of practical advice, and even a section for further reading. But be warned. If you are looking for a cookie-cutter plan to raising your own teen, you won't find that here. Walt reminds us of the unique qualities of every teenager. That is a good thing. In order to help your child survive the bridge to adulthood that is adolescence, they will need your unique perspective.
And just as I choose to continue being a youth pastor, you can choose to live this adventure with your teenager, instead of closing your eyes and hoping you survive.
You can find this book, and many other resources, at Walt's site; The Center for Parent & Youth Understanding.