Book Review: Raising Teens in a Hyper-Sexualised World

Whilst I work for another publisher, I’m grateful to continue recieving from time to time books direct from publishers in exchange for a review. Today’s review, then, is one of those. This is a slim, timely book on an important topic, from 10Publishing, the Publishing ‘bit’ of the 10ofThose book empire.

I write about sex occasionally, and often review books that are aimed at adults and church leaders about sex (Whether its ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed‘, ‘Journeys in Grace and Truth‘, or other things on other aspects of sex and sexuality). This means that, though I’d rather talk about being human or biblical studies, I often end up talking to people about sex. And one group of people who I’ve found it difficult to talk to about sex and sexualisation is parents. Not my own parents – I’m keen to emphasise that they got me talking about most things reasonably well, reasonably early, and probably can be blaimed for my voracious attitude towards reading. But I digress. This book is a very simple, very practical, very readable book that I think I’ll be recommending to parents who want to talk to their children about sex and sexuality in our sexualised culture. I would actually say that the market for this book is a little wider than ‘teens’ – that this should be read by, and informing, parents of younger children. After all, parents tend to parent their children over a long time, and it helps to be prepared, proactively thinking things through, rather than parenting reactively.

As the author writes at the mid-point of the book, but I quote at the beginning (ish!) of this review:

When a couple finds out they are going to have a baby they start learning about what life will be like with a new baby. Expectant mothers read books that tell them what they can expect during pregnancy, and once the baby arrives young parents read more books on what they can expect their growing baby to be doing. They listen to their pediatrician and ask lots of questions to ensure healthy development is taking place in their young child. Why then is it that when approaching the teen years the main thing parents really explore is how not to lose their minds and how to just make it through?

At under 50 pages it would be easy to dismiss this book – and also very easy to summarize its (Excellent, broadly) content in a review or blog post. This would be a shame, though, as this is a book that deserves to be read. Eliza Huie offers seven tips about how parents can engage with their teenagers on this contentious topic. The entire book is couched in the context of pursuing genuine, authentic, biblically rooted relationship with your children, rather than an authoritative list of do’s and don’ts. Probably the most helpful tip, at least in how much this needs to be in black and white for Christian parents and their children, is ‘Don’t Think “Not My Kid”‘. As the author so helpfully weaves throughout the book, every person will encounter some form of sexual content, in a way that isn’t planned, and so parents need to be ready for this. I think as a way for parents to frame and prepare for difficult conversations on a whole host of issues flowing from our sexualised culture, this book is very helpful.

Sexual sin is not the unforgivable sin. It is serious but forgivable. Your teens need to hear of the cleansing that is theirs in Christ. They need to know that they can be washed clean. The need to know and see that this is where the gospel becomes very relevant

It is good to see this book coming out. This isn’t a book – unlike some I have read in this space and from this perspective – that pretends culture doesn’t  change, that sex is only happening amongst adults in some idyllic dream world. This is a book for now. As such, I hope it will become out of date and unnecessary, because I hope eventually the Church will influence culture as it tells a Better Story about sex. For the time being, in a world with technological and cultural tides swirling about, this is a very helpful little book on a vital subject. There is good stuff on digital reality, simple recommendations, and it is thoroughgoingly shot through with Scripture. I’d recommend it, and will do so next time I find myselves talking to parents about sex.

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