Review: Family Toolbox for Parenting Teens

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As the mother of tween (12) and teen (13 1/2) girls, I was very excited to evaluate The Family Toolbox with my daughters as we enter this new phase of parenting with them. Produced by the National Center for Biblical Parenting (NCBP), publishers of the Christian Parenting Handbook, The Family Toolbox is a DVD/video-driven program that brings parents and teens together for constructive dialogue around significant issues of discipleship.

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The Family Toolbox has eight lessons. Each lesson has two parts: A 1-2 minute scene of a family living life and experiencing common challenges in their relationships, and a solutions discussion specifically designed for parents to watch. Conversation is sparked by engaging with the video clips with your teens. The format grabs teens and gets them interacting.

A discussion guide prompts dialogue between parents and teens and a 10-minute teaching session for parents featuring Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN gives practical tools to use right away.  Sixteen “Life Success Principles” are communicated through the eight lessons that give parents and teens biblically-based, practical topics for discussion.

Topics include:

  • It Starts with the Heart – being respectful when it’s hard and developing internal motivation
  • Follow Instructions Well – developing healthy habits and contributing to the family
  • Handle Pressure Without Losing your Cool – solving problems and developing peacemaker qualities
  • The Value of Correction – learning to value correction and apologize well
  • The Importance of Responsibility – planning to be responsible and taking responsibility for mistakes
  • Accept No as an Answer – training yourself to accept “no” and avoid arguing
  • Deal with your own Anger – working with your family as a team and learning self control
  • Consider the Needs of Others – practicing flexibility and learning to handle “unfair” situations

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In practice

I found it very easy to prepare for lessons with my daughters using The Family Toolbox discussion guide and watching the lesson segments in advance. The solutions discussion segments for parents to watch, with commentary by Dr. Turansky and Joanne Miller, were very insightful and helped me prepare for a productive discussion with my girls. The advice was biblically based with very practical application.

When it was time to watch the video segments with my daughters, I made copies of the provided lesson worksheets for each of them and myself, so we could jot down thoughts about the videos as we watched them together. The prompts provided in the lesson worksheets gave us great talking points once we finished watching the short situational segments. I find that it’s easier for my daughters to share their thoughts when they’ve taken notes and have time to reflect personally on a subject before diving in to a discussion, so I appreciated this format and worksheets provided.

Lessons are designed to take about 30 minutes each, which is mostly discussion time, and it’s ideal for a weekly discussion time. Although we homeschool and some of the school-related scenarios didn’t apply to us, the key principles addressed are applicable to every family. For example, topics such as respect, self motivation and personal responsibility are extremely relevant no matter what your schooling situation looks like or how many siblings are in the family.

The guidance provided for making the most of your weekly discussion time was very useful. There’s also advice for how to deal with a resistant child, and how to help your teen share more honestly and openly.

We’ve only had time for a few lessons since receiving our review copy of The Family Toolbox, however we have really enjoyed the format and tools provided. We’ve had great discussions, and I like being able to point back to what we’ve just learned when these topics come up in daily life. The examples are engaging for the girls, and I’m learning a lot from the solutions provided by Dr. Turansky and Joanne Miller. We are all looking forward to continuing the rest of the series!

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You can download the recently released Family Toolbox at the National Center for Biblical Parenting (NCBP) Web site for a suggested donation of $79.95, or purchase a home kit with DVD and hardcopy literature for $99.95.

What questions do you have about parenting teens? What resources have you found to be useful during this phase of parenting? Do you think having a weekly discussion time would work well in your family?

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Renée Gotcher is a wife, writer, editorial consultant, and home-educating mother of three daughters. She has been married for 26 years to her best friend Kenny, whom she met while attending Oral Roberts University in the early 90s. Renée was homeschooled during her last two years of high school and started homeschooling in 2010. A former journalist, she is currently editor of NextGen Homeschool and blogs on personal topics at A New Chapter. Her family lives in Castle Rock, Colorado.