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Get Outta My Face!

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I have spent the last thirteen years of my life trying to forget my teenage years. It’s not that these years were really so bad and it’s not like I went through a period of utter rebellion as do so many teens (for which I give thanks to God). It’s more that I had little joy in these years and felt that I was mostly just putting in time as I waited to grow up. What I do remember is many times of disobedience and disregard for my parents. I loved them and hated them. I needed them and yet wanted to go about life on my own. Though I may not have told them so in so many words, many times I just wanted them out of my face. I remember those years well–more so than I would like.

Though there is a part of me that looks with great anticipation to my own children reaching their teenage years, there is a part of me that is terrified. From what I’ve observed of myself, my siblings, and so many other teens, they are years guaranteed to be filled with both joys and sorrows. Rick Horne knows well such joy and pain. He has fathered six teenagers and has counseled hundreds more. This is a man who has a lot to share about leading teenagers through these years. This is the subject of his new book, Get Outta My Face.

According to the author, this book “aims to summarize common experiences parents have with angry teens and illustrate how biblical principles can bring remarkably clear and useful light to these situations. The aim is to position these truths on the bottom shelf so we can all reach them and put them to use with angry, unmotivated teens–even if we’ve made serious mistakes in our previous efforts. We all want to help these young people recognize their self-destructive ways, learn new and effective methods of dealing with life, and ultimately come into a deep and life-changing relationship with Christ. That’s the goal of this book.”

One of the book’s foremost principles is that presentation matters. A parent’s first words to an angry teen will strongly push the interaction to one of two outcomes–the words being received or the words being rejected. The best and most valuable counsel may be rejected if it is not properly presented. This is not to say that the author teaches manipulation. Instead, he simply shows how a parent can approach a teen with respect even when he or she is not looking for any help.

As Horne instructs parents or youth leaders or anyone who seeks to lead and guide teens, he follows this pattern. The first part is “What You Must Understand to Connect with Your Teen.” Here the author helps ensure the parent has a biblically-informed worldview by presenting Scripture’s assessment of your angry or unmotivated teen. This is, as you might expect, the foundational information that will set the tone for all that follows.

Part two is titled “What You Must Do to Help Your Teen” and this is where we find the “how-to” information. The author introduces the acronym LCLP which stands for Listen Big, Clarify Narrow, Look Wide, Plan Small. The author gives one chapter to each of these four and does much of his teaching through little narratives, true or could-be-true illustrations of these principles in action.

While the first two sections deal with the surface motivations and external behavior, the author dedicates the third part to the heart. He calls this portion “How to Make the Changes Stick.” While dealing with a teen will necessitate beginning with external behavior, a parent would be remiss to neglect using the bridge of communication to get to his child’s heart. The ultimate goal, of course, is to lead a teen to the cross, either for the first time or for a growing, deepening understanding of Christ’s work.

Though I am not the parent of a teenager, I am young enough still to remember being one. At the same time, I am only a few years away from seeing my son turn thirteen. Even now, with him growing and maturing, I learned things from this book that I can apply right away. Having said that, this is the kind of book that will undoubtedly necessitate more than one reading for those who wish to absorb it and implement what it teaches. I read it at a good pace and while jotting notes and still feel that I would learn a lot more by reading it through once again. I am sure that I will do so before I have my own teens to deal with.

This is a book that is realistic about teens as they are going to be, not wistful as to what they might be. This is no idealized view of teenagers. Rather, it is realistic, giving an assessment of teens that rings true while providing solutions that can actually work. It teaches a parent to do more than react to a sinful teen, but teaches him to be proactive in approaching the teen, in reaching out to him, and in shepherding his heart. This is exactly what Shepherd Press does so well. Their books, their authors, take issues related to parenting and look at them under the shadow of the cross. Get Outta My Face is a great complement to their existing catalog and a book that I’m sure God will use mightily for his glory. If you have teens, if you will soon have teens, or if you work with teens, you will want to get yourself a copy of this book.

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