Every once in a while a book comes along that totally knocks your boots off and lets the world smell your stinky socks. This is one of them there books. Now, our initial reaction is to run yelling and screaming to the trees, or to stock up on mouthwash – cause in a post-apocalyptic society there is no dentist, so we best take care of our teeth! Both of these are, in fact, overreactions. We should just read the book. And that’s what I’m recommending you do.

Tough Guys & Drama Queens is a book that belongs on the shelf of any parent, teacher, youth pastor, youth leader, or basically anyone who at some point is going to interact with teenagers. Now that I think about it, pretty much everybody should own this book. (In case you can’t tell, I really enjoyed it.) Based off Mark Gregston’s 38 years of working with teens and parents through his organization, Heartlight Ministries – a Christian residential counseling center – , Tough Guys & Drama Queens is great field guide to how to raise – as well as how not to raise – a teen.

Now, raising a teen is not exactly a field I’m highly interested in from a parental standpoint (no birds in my nest), but being involved in youth ministry and being a high school teacher, this book is highly relevant for me. And having worked with thousands of teens on a one-on-one level, Gregston certainly has the knowledge and know-how to speak into the lives of teens. So if you are involved with teens, pre-teens, or just want to know what you’re young one will be getting into one day, I would highly recommend this book.

There are far too many great thoughts for me to fully get into, but here are just a few concepts that really resonated with me:

“People change because of relationship, not authority.”

“Every woman wants a prince, every kid wants a hero, and every man wants to be both.”

“Many teenagers experience uncertainty of life when the actions of others challenge the confidence of a gentle heart longing for security amidst an unsure world.”

“Parents can’t always change the influence of the world, but they can change the way they engage with their kids to help them weather the storms of uncertainty.”

“Your presence sends the message.”

“Countering the effects of this culture won’t happen by making sure your child’s room is clean or ensuring that she makes good grades. It will happen across a bridge of relationship…”

Obviously these quotes lack context here, but the discussion and examples Gregston uses do well to provide that context. In fact, that may well be one of his greatest strengths, providing excellent examples of how he has engaged with teens who have lost their way in an uncertain culture. Each chapter is packed not only with principles for parenting and interacting with teens, but examples of how these principles have worked themselves out through teens he has had the fortunate misfortune – he meets great kids under not-so-great circumstances – to work with.

I would love to go even further into it, but I could barely do Gregston justice. Tough Guys & Drama Queens is a book that I would recommend to ANY parent, teacher, youth leader, etc. Even if your child is not a “troubled teen,” there are principles here which you can use to help solidify your already strong relationship with your child. After all, it all comes down to relationship. As a teacher, I certainly came away from this book changed. It’s now become a permanent fixture of my resource library, and I expect to reread it many more times. What more can you ask for from a book? And even if you only come away with one thing that can help your relationship with your child, isn’t that worth $15.99? I would think so.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishing in order to review. There is no requirement for me to give a positive review. I just love to see transformation, and Tough Guys & Drama Queens is all about it.

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