Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Book Review: Get Your Teenager Talking by Jonathan McKee

I'll be honest...I've never had an issue with getting teens to talk to me.  Often times, when I was doing youth ministry, I would have a hard time getting them to stop talking to me, like when they wanted to tell me about their parents sex lives or how many different strategies they used to beat whatever level of whatever popular video game of the moment.  But, with my background with teens, I was interested in what Jonathan McKee had to say in Get Your Teenager Talking:  Everything You Need to Spark Meaningful Conversation.

The book starts with a few pages on how to start a conversation and keep it going, whether with a teen or anyone else.  After that, the book is simply a list of 180 conversation "springboards", complete with intro questions, follow up questions and additional questions in case a good conversation gets sparked.  And that is it.

While the 180 springboards were great and well thought out and the five tips for keeping conversations going were good, I felt like if I were a parent or youth leader that really had trouble getting a kid to open up, I would have liked more information and insight.  Why do teens clam up when talking to most adults?  Why are they so shy to share themselves?  How do you create a safe environment to share your thoughts?  Tips for the really tough nuts to crack?  Even in my own experiences in youth ministry, it would have been nice to have some information on what to do if a child starts talking and talks about something major, like death, depression, suicide, eating disorders, cutting, illegal activity.  Are there ground rules about what to keep strictly confidential and what to has to be told to another person?

With that said, I still would recommend this book to parents and youth leaders who do struggle with knowing how to talk to teens or who struggle with coming up with topics to discuss.  It is simple to use, clear and helpful and could be a great asset to those who use it.

I was given this book free of charge by the publisher in return for my honest review.

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