Alex Chediak constructs a valuable discipleship resource for parents who are preparing their teens for college. He writes with academic experience as a college professor and theological acumen. Preparing Your Teens is structured for maximum usefulness. Each chapter centers on a single topic parents should be conversing with their children about as parents prepare them for college. And he doesn’t skip up a beat when discussing difficult topic (see especially his helpful advice for discussing homosexuality 122). That’s why I called this a valuable discipleship resource.
At one point, Alex points out the tendency for parents to step back from engaging their children as maturing adults allowing school, church youth pastors, and the like handle the important conversations from sex to money to college. He reminds us of our responsibility as parents to disciple our children in this formative years as an intentional step in their next level of maturation as young adults.
Alex starts by discussing responsibility—a foundational lesson for maturing teenagers. I found this chapter rich soil for the other conversations to take root in (although you could read each chapter individually without harm). Let me provide a brief example. With the encouragement to take responsibility with school, work, and recreational activities in mind, he retells a conversation between a son who brought home a report card with a C in pre-calculus and the dad. The dad examines the grades and the son is embracing for a lecture for the C, but the dad instead praises the A’s he received in the son’s history and English classes. The father uses this opportunity to encourage the son to make his best effort in pre-calculus, while also discovering and encouraging his son’s natural talents in history and English. This kind of balance between responsibility, effort, and discovering talents allows the father to have a fruitful conversation with his son (261-62, 266). You can expect this kind of hands on advice through out Preparing Your Teens for College.
I also found Alex provides encouragement for parents by presenting the overwhelm evidence that children raised in a Christian home with a serious commitment to their faith stay committed as adults (73). This hard evidence provides a layer of confidence to God’s promises for our children and prevents parents from parenting by fear, and not by the promises of God (71-73). Another helpful section is “Anti-science: Is Christianity at Odds with Science?” Alex demonstrates that science and faith go hand-in-hand and we shouldn’t fear science (88-92). What faith is opposed to is sciencism—the belief that everything must proved by science (a claim, as Alex notes, that’s self-defeating). Last, Alex provides worthwhile advice for parents discussing credit cards and finances with their children. It may be hard to finish out four years of college without debt, but that doesn’t mean we should pile consumer debt on top of our school debt (197-200). Ultimately, Preparing Your Teens for College is a must read for parents in our current evangelical culture where active discipleship during parenting years can be neglected.
Mathew B. Sims is the author of A Household Gospel: Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our Homes and writes for CBMW Manual, Gospel-Centered Discipleship, Borrowed Light, and other publications. He also works as the managing editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship and offers freelance editing and book formatting services. He is a member at Downtown Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC.