Book Review: Coaching Your Teen to Success. Seven Simple Steps to Transform Relationships and Enrich Lives, by Barbara McRae, MCC, 2004.  

Ms. McRae is a fine writer who writes from her perspective as Master Certified Coach, as well as experience as a mother and a Big Sister mentor.

Lest you think that this is mostly a book on how to handle your teenager, be advised that the first half of the book emphasizes the Coaching Part; that is, she helps the parent prepare for the exacting job of coaching the teen in his or her life. Parts 1 and 2 prepare the way for the actual approach to the teenagers.

Ms. McRae builds the coaching foundation: identifying what parents want, what teens need and, most of all, developing the power of parents to provide needed guidance and support for their teens. For this endeavor to succeed, parents need to engage in an introspective process of understanding their own needs and vulnerabilities as well as their strengths and capabilities. There are insightful and demanding exercises in each chapter meant to promote this needed development and there are answer keys and checklists in the appendices.

This apprenticeship is rigorous as many of us have never really finished growing up and we have vulnerabilities that crop up very quickly when dealing with teens: our teens always know how to push our buttons. In some ways, the training she proposes reminds me of my training to become a psychologist. In other words, she demands a lot of parents but also purports to help both parents and teens reach new levels of satisfaction with themselves, each other, and all of life, in general.

Enlightened leaders, as McRae puts it, or “valuable influencers” are able to be mentors, champions, sounding boards, teachers, and beacons of light, role models, partners, to the adolescents they live with or work with (paraphrased from the book’s prologue). Parents and educators can become these leaders if they can clear their own agendas and fears out of the way.

Therapists learn to “leave their egos at the door” and this is essentially what a parent must educate himself to do. But lest you become intimidated by this requirement, let me share that this book’s instruction is both inspiring and manageable. I only wish I had read and worked my way through it when my children were teens. I think they and I would have had a much more enjoyable time and rapport during their adolescence.

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