A Book Review: Disconnected – Parenting Teens in a MySpace World by Chap Clark and Dee Clark

Disconnected

In this book, the Clarks address the issue of parenting teens in the 21st century. Like in Chap Clark’s book, Hurt 2.0, they describe in-depth the development and characteristics of early, mid and late adolescence. This book is written from a Christian perspective using Scripture freely and presenting solutions from a Biblical perspective. Our authors direct this book to Christian parents.

This book follows the first edition of Hurt (2004) and precedes Hurt 2.0 (2011) which were directed at school and community workers. This Baker book publication was published in 2007.

Chap Clark teaches youth, family and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, is president of ParenTeen Seminars, Senior editor of” Youthworker Journal” and author of more than fifteen books. His wife, Dee Clark is a family therapist and coauthor of two other books. Together, they have raised three children into young adulthood.

In Part One – Understanding Today’s Adolescent Journey, the Clarks address how the journey has changed since we were teenagers. Early in the 20th century, there were children and adults. By the middle of the century the transition between children and adults was no more than five years. Today teens endure a transition that lasts as long as 15 years or more. While many adults of our day have a hard time recognizing the difference, the Clarks make the case that as a society our youth suffer from “systemic abandonment”. By “systemic abandonment”, they mean that parents spend more money on things and spend more time taking children to events, but do not spend quality time with their children. Chap and Dee say that we “have led our children into an environment where they have never been more ill-equipped to handle the world we have handed them.” P. 72

Adolescents have three tasks to perform as a part of “Individuation”- answering these questions: Who am I? What power do I really have? Where do I fit? According to social scientists, adolescence begins with the average age of puberty in a community (biology) and ends when they have achieved “individuation” (culture). Pre 1900 puberty averaged at age 14+ and individuation occurred at age 16. In 1980 puberty averaged at age 13 and individuation occurred at age 18. Finally, in 2007 the average age of puberty was 12 and individuation occurred in the mid-20s. p. 63 Now, puberty may begin as early as 11 years old.

Part Two – Parenting Through the Seasons explores different seasons of life. Quoting Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 the authors make the point that there are different seasons in the lives of our children. Our authors indicate that parents have five tasks: understanding, showing compassion, “boundarying,” charting/guiding and launching into adulthood. In four successive chapters they present childhood, early adolescence (middle school), mid-adolescence (high school) and late adolescence (young or emerging adults). They present an illustration of the process in the form of a tight rope; childhood and adulthood are on either side (dependence and interdependence) while adolescence is a long tightrope where they are alone to work on the tasks of individuation (independence). During that time these teens need family stability and safety which includes a home where the parents are in charge and, they add, a home that is fun.

Mid-adolescents respond to abandonment by forming their own “underground family” with their friends. Chap and Dee spend a chapter contrasting what teens say, how parents interpret it and what the teens really mean. I am a bit hesitant to endorse this entire chapter, but what I do take away from this chapter is that we need to listen to our young people and continue the conversation to ascertain what they really mean. They may not even know what they mean.

Finally in the last chapter, the Clarks discuss their model of successful parenting – Parenting As Partnership – The Three Levels of Partnership. Using 1 Corinthians 12:27, they recognize that as Christians, parents are a part of the Body of Christ. As an individual we “partner with Christ”; as a couple we “partner with our spouse – both of whom are personally “partnering with Christ”. When children arrive in the home the next level of partnership appears. Finally, they recommend forming a group of families who are accountable to each other and have a loving interest in all the members of the group. This is how they see parenting children “taking a village.” When Chap referenced this in Hurt 2.0, I was a bit hesitant because Hurt and Hurt 2.0 were directed at the community and schools. However, in this book, addressing the parents who have the option of including or excluding other families in their level of partnership, I am more comfortable with this idea as it is based on Scriptural principles. He called these other individuals / families “soulmates” and emphasizes that they are “soulmates” of both spouses, not just one of them. They conclude with the following:

1. “Each parent must seek to know, love, and follow Jesus Christ.

2. Both parents must be a cohesive and impenetrable unit of strength and love.

3. The family must be surrounded by intimate friends in community, or soul mates and

4. Single parent families need soul mates.” P. 192-193

My concerns regarding how Dr. Clark viewed family and church (in my review of Hurt 2.0 – http://www.unlockinglearningpotential.com ) have been largely relieved. In addition to addressing Christian parents in Disconnected, he has taken this model to the community and school leaders in the form of the 5:1 project – five adults in a positive relationship with each teen (through http://www.parenteen.org ). Certainly in a Christian context, we have more reason to believe that God will be pleased to bless our efforts, and yet salvation is of the Lord. Also, the Clarks have spent some time with the cause and have put forth some practical ways that can help parents, especially Christian parents, to establish a home that nurtures our young.

To Purchase:

Disconnected: Parenting Teens in a MySpace World by Chap and Dee Clark

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002PJ4M9O/?tag=wwwunlockl-20

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4 thoughts on “A Book Review: Disconnected – Parenting Teens in a MySpace World by Chap Clark and Dee Clark

  1. i came across your site while searching info on dr doidge…
    and when i went to the home page
    i noted your christian emphasis….
    and what you had there on john calvin….

    which put me in mind of the dangers of mental abilities and presumptiousness…
    in terms of how such matters such as what is meant by predestination
    and such as the persecutions of the anabaptists….

    all such methinks might resolved when one matures beyond the renewed heart to the renewed mind

    Heb 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
    Heb 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
    Heb 5:10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
    Heb 5:11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
    Heb 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
    Heb 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
    Heb 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

  2. i think on your home page was perhaps what was only at that point in time?

    there was something on john calvin

    namely this

    John Calvin – Theologian of the Reformation – 1509-1563

    Having escaped from the King of France, young John Calvin entered Geneva, Switzerland. He intended to stay one night en route to a place where he could study and write. However, William Farel visited him and boldly told him that he must stay and help in the reformation work in Geneva. After much argument, Calvin agreed to stay believing that God had used Farel to change his course. While in Geneva, he preached daily, visited the sick, started a college and wrote. Today, Calvin’s The Institutes of the Christian Religion still holds an important place in the body of Christian literature. Calvin and Farel participated in a religious debate in Lausanne. They faced religious leaders who claimed that they were not following the teachings of the church. During the first three days, Farel did all of the speaking. Finally, on the last day when one of the religious leaders specifically stated that they were not following church fathers such as Augustine, Turtullian and others. Calvin rose, and without looking quoted verbatim long passages from these leaders who taught the same teachings as Calvin and Farel. One of the religious leaders, confessed that he had been wrong and left the church along with many others in the days that followed. Even when bedridden, Calvin worked. Finally, his frail body failed and he died. Dying, he said to Farel, “Christ is our reward in life and death.”

    and it it was that that brought to my mind some issues of calvin’s doctrine
    on predestination
    and too that he had what he considered doctrinal heretics killed
    some links on such

    http://www.a-voice.org/tidbits/calvinp.htm

    http://www.evangelicaloutreach.org/michael-servetus.htm

    1. Thanks for the websites. Many of the reformers had “carry over” doctrines and practices…they were in the process of reforming. They made giant steps by comparison to us who have the life so easy. Yes, it is better to say that we believe in the doctrines of grace as opposed to Calvinism or any other reformer – simply because he was a man. While I do not agree with everything he taught and did, I wouldn’t call him a heretic.

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