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What Your Son Isn't Telling You: Unlocking the Secret World of Teen Boys Review by Kendra Fletcher

Michael Ross and Susie Shellenberger
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438

Despite growing up the only girl in a family with two brothers and despite the fact that I have five sons myself, the behavior and the thoughts of my own two teenage sons regularly confound me. The 'tween and teen years bring new challenges to both parents and kids alike. They are wondering how to tackle new issues and physical changes and social pressures, while we parents are often left shaking our heads and wondering what in the world happened to that playful little boy more focused on Legos and soccer balls than nearly anything else.

What Your Son Isn't Telling You comes to the rescue. Written by Michael Ross, former editor of Focus on the Family's Breakaway magazine for teen guys, and Susie Shellenberger, the founding editor of Focus on the Family's Brio magazine for teen girls, What Your Son Isn't Telling You is packed with practical advice. From "How a Boy's World Looks and Feels" to "Lust, Sex, and Dating" to "Lost in Space: If a Boy Rejects Christianity," you'll find a chapter covering every issue concerning the world our sons are growing up in. And while we may not want to have to come to terms with the reality of a fallen world, they must. So then, we must be prepared to guide them.

It's good to be reminded that the most important job we have is to disciple our children, whether or not they are educated at home. It's always easy for me to tip the scales toward imbalance here, with academics taking precedence when the focus should be on raising kids who want to walk with God. Just because our kids are home all day long doesn't mean we're purposefully discipling them. I'll say that again: Just because our kids are home all day long doesn't mean we're purposefully discipling them. Michael Ross and Susie Shellenberger plant their flag here, reminding us that this is the most important job we have:

Making money, securing the right job, finding a nice home, setting aside a major college fund, cooking healthy meals, coaching Little League, helping them soar in academics, music, drama, sports . . . nothing is as important as discipling your children!

Please allow us to be blunt: Are you discipling your son into becoming a man after God's own heart? Are you reading the Bible with him? Do you pray together consistently? (And no, a quick prayer at the dinner table before dinner isn't what we're talking about.) Are you introducing him to spiritual heroes through missionary books and the history of your church? Have you shown him how to actually study the Bible? Does he have more than one translation of the Bible? Are you helping him memorize Scripture? Is he reading good Christian books?

I particularly appreciated the chapter written just for moms. Honestly, as a homeschooling mom, I often feel like the lines between parenting roles are blurred, but having Michael Ross and Susie Shellenberger point out seven things a teenage son needs from his mom was extremely helpful. Despite the fact that I must keep my sons on task and sometimes play policewoman, I really want to camp on the most important mom roles of Godly role model, cheerleader, and prayer warrior. And I keep returning to this sentence: "He receives validation in his masculinity from his mom. It's his dad that teaches and demonstrates masculinity to his son, but it's the mom who validates it."

Additionally, What Your Son Isn't Telling You includes copious quotes and questions the authors have received from young men, and this was extremely eye-opening to me. I appreciated their candor, and their questions have served as a springboard to conversation with my own sons. Perhaps these are struggles my sons are having without my knowledge, and I appreciate the opportunity to open those doors and gain insight into my guys.

What Your Son Isn't Telling You is a book worth reading, even if you think you have a pretty good handle on what's inside your son's heart. The chapter on bullying may not be applicable to many homeschoolers, but my sons have friends who go to school, and I wanted them to have an understanding of what life is like for their friends. Or maybe through a little questioning you'll discover that your son is bullied at youth group, and he hasn't ever brought it up before. You may discover the key to your son's heart simply by asking the right questions, and What Your Son Isn't Telling You can give you the questions to ask.

The standard for us and for our children is clearly the Bible, and Michael Ross and Susie Shellenberger uphold that standard at all costs. Their unwavering stance on purity, maturity, and Godly manhood is both refreshing and hugely encouraging.

Product review by Kendra Fletcher, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2010