Monday, October 13, 2014

A Family Toolbox for Parents and Teens (a review)

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I attended my first homeschool convention in 2009. Ashlyn and Lexie were 6 and Little Bit was only a couple months old. One of the seminars I attended was a parenting seminar, I don't remember the specific topic, by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller from the National Center for Biblical Parenting. As I was sitting there, struggling with the challenges of guiding my older daughters through the transition of a new baby, Scott and Joanne's words were exactly what I needed! I attended at least one more of their seminars that weekend, purchased the cds of all of their other seminars from that weekend, and purchased several products at their booth. . . and I've been a huge fan of their products ever since!

Now, Lexie and Ashlyn are 11 and we are all navigating this new world of teens and tweens. And some days it's challenging. When I was given the opportunity to review NCBP's brand new program for parents and teens, The Family Toolbox, I was more than happy to oblige!

The Family Toolbox is a DVD and "workbook" designed to help guide parents and teens through constructive discussions about 16 Life Principles, presented in 8 lessons. It is available for $99.95, or a downloadable version for $79.95.

Each lesson includes several "pieces".  Before sitting down with your teen(s), there is a page in the workbook for the parent to read, then it is helpful to pre-watch the short (just a couple minutes long) video segment that you will be watching with your teens, and scan over the discussion questions you'll use with them. There is also a longer video segment for each lesson that is Scott and Joanne talking about parenting teen in these scenarios presented in this lesson, and a workbook page for the parent to jot down specific challenge related to this lesson, as well as ideas to improve things in their family. All together, plan on about half an hour of "prep time" before going over a lesson with your teens.

The time spent with teens includes reading a couple sentences "setting the stage" for the video clip, watching the short video clip, and then going over a couple pages of discussion questions together, looking at what the people in the clip did wrong, and could have done differently, and finally applying all of this to your particular family situation, and discussing changes to be made.

Ideally, I would go over one lesson per week, or perhaps even every other week, or once a month, allowing time for all of us to really focus on making improvements to the life principles presented in that lesson before moving on to the next lesson. I also like the suggestion of making this a special time with an ice cream treat while watching and discussing, or making each lesson a "date time" for parent(s) and teen(s). However, because I wanted to get through most of the program during the review period, we have moved through it more quickly during the review period.

It was interesting to note that even when discussing things hypothetically, using the video clip "family", my girls tended to get defensive over areas where they need to work on things. The lessons that didn't "hit as close to home", they enjoyed the discussion, in some cases, despite my best efforts, strong feelings were involved. Especially with those areas, I think taking the time to make the discussion time a special "treat", and then spending a week or longer following that discussion, all working together on making improvements in our family, followed by some "check-ins" to see how we're all doing, would not only be more beneficial, but also would have led to less . . . heated reactions from my girls. I think being hit in such quick succession made them react more strongly.

Overall, as with all of the products I've used from National Center for Biblical Parenting, the principles presented, and the focus on relationships and "heart issues", is wonderful! I was disappointed to find that most of the video advice to parents was very similar to the advice I already had heard in the other products, I was hoping for something more specific to teens, and didn't find that to be the case. However, since most people probably haven't already read pretty much everything available from Scott and Joanne, the advice is EXCELLENT!!!

One thing that I think would have worked better for my girls, is if Scott and Joanne had also spoken to the teens. I think some of the information presented by "me" as I read through the discussion questions with them, would have been better received coming from an "expert" instead of it being one more instance of "Mommy telling us what to do".

In conclusion, I asked Lexie and Ashlyn what they thought about it. Lexie's response was "it takes too much time" which I think comes from (a) the fact that we were doing this several times a week instead of once a week and (b) that in most cases it did spark quite a bit of discussion and that discussion took awhile. Ashlyn said she liked it but that she felt that it wouldn't work well for a kid who didn't already want to improve communication and relationship with their parents. I think that might be a valid observation, but perhaps that would be true of anything?

Overall, this is a great resource for opening discussion with your teens, and moving toward a relation-based family dynamic. If you aren't familiar with the National Center for Biblical Parenting, the parent videos that are a part of this package are very helpful, and quite honestly, I can't imagine parenting with having these concepts as a part of our family's belief structure!

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1 comment:

Ed Miller said...

Thanks for your very helpful and honest comments LaRee. You and your daughters had some great thoughts about how best to use this resource. I'm going to be using this with some families in our church this winter. Your feedback will be very helpful. Doing just one segment per week makes a lot of sense. I can see how it could get very intense doing more than one in a week. Thanks.