A Redemptive Approach to Parenting
If every week a new marriage book hits the shelves of both secular and Christian bookstores, parenting books cannot be far behind. Few topics can command shelf space in a bookstore or online site like books on parenting. It’s perhaps because of this prolific abundance of parenting materials that few resources then are able to really shine through the stacks of books.
Rick Horne’s book, Get Outta My Face! is one of the those books which should rise to the top of your parenting reading list. The subtitle itself–How to Reach Angry, Unmotivated Teens with Biblical Counsel—probably highlights the experience many parents are living every single day of their lives. Rather than waiting until graduation day and college, Horne offers a redemptive approach to reaching teenagers that is neither purely theoretical nor entirely behavioristic.
Read the End
I have a confession and a recommendation to make. Confession: I read the end of the book first. Recommendation: follow my lead and read Horne’s final two chapters which compose the final part of his 3-part book. In the final chapter in particular, Horne focuses the reader on the gospel of Christ, the importance of repentance and end goal of what he has been hoping to get across to the reader.
He writes, “The fact that there are weaknesses and potential snares in the [book] ought not to surprise or concern us. The larger issue is whether these principles are truly grounded in Scripture and therefore trustworthy.” What I believe is Horne’s gift to the reader of his book is the ability to take the trustworthy words of Scripture, in particular the book of Proverbs, and incarnate those principles in relation to your teen in every day conversation.
Any parent of teenagers will no doubt tell you right away that simply quoting Ephesians 6:1 to your rebellious, angry and unmotivated teen will get you nowhere. Horne recognizes this potential pitfall of parenting and helps shore up the parents’ toolbox of communication by shaping it with the life-transforming power of Scripture, but practically giving a paradigm through which to speak to your teens.
The bulk of the book, Part 2, is spent working through a simple acrostic to help shape the parent-teen relationship. Listen Big, Clarify Narrow, Look Wide, Plan Small are the four pillars of Horne’s paradigm. He spends a chapter laying the foundation for each individual tenet. The chapters are full of practical suggestions, but the reader is struck by the simplicity of the fact that these are grounded in the Scriptures. Horne is careful to tie his thoughts back to the book of Proverbs, as well as providing several case studies and conversations that will have the reader smiling to himself as they will likely identify with Horne’s characters.
Another strength of these chapters is that Horne has hit upon the obvious. Change and movement in relationships are most often accomplished through everyday conversations. Rarely does big change just happen after a 5-hour lecture; rather, it’s through everyday interactions, questions, thoughts, and verbal cues that the parent is able to break through to the world of their teen. We know as biblical counselors, but also as parents, that words are powerful, perhaps more powerful than any punishment we could mete out. Horne writes, “…Christian parents can be encouraged to know that the Designer has shown us in Scripture how to talk effectively to anyone made in his own image…”
Horne acknowledges and recognizes that the paradigm is simply a bridge. He helpfully qualifies, “LCLP is the bridge to your teen. But the ultimate destination for your teen is the cross. Who can sanely turn down the offer of such kindness in the cross?”
The Fine Print
Most parenting books whether at the end or the beginning include some type of qualifier that the reader is not guaranteed actual success. Oftentimes the qualifications are so discouraging one puts down the book before they’ve even begun!
Horne understands this dynamic: “This book has a narrow focus and a limited goal. It does not present a full-scale method of your counseling or parenting.” However, the beauty of what Rick has provided is that he neither intends for his book to be exhaustive on the topic, nor as an end unto itself. Rather the tonality and posture of the book relies on the transforming power of Scripture. Now, that’s a book you can build your parenting paradigm on!