Critical Connection: A Practical Guide to Parenting Young Teens

Critical Connection: A Practical Guide to Parenting Young Teens

by Andy Kerckhoff


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Parenting 10-14 years olds can be the most challenging of all the stages of development. Middle school is a time of tremendous change for families.

Critical Connection is for parents of young teens who have said:
• "So much is changing. I just don't get my daughter any more. I don't want her to slip away."
• "My son wants to spend every moment on some sort of electronic screen."
• "My daughter has these extreme mood swings and her social life is such a big deal now."
• "I am not sure how to discipline my son now. He's not a little boy anymore."
• "I don't know what to do about her smartphone."

While this may seem overwhelming, the truth is that being a young teen can be wonderful. Kids at this stage of development may not admit it, but they need a stronger connection with their parents than ever before. Wise parents must seek after a better understanding of the age and try new ways to connect with and guide their children.

Critical Connection offers practical advice that will help parents raise healthy young teens, inside and out.
It discusses how to:
o Connect with your middle school child o Build a healthy family life o Discipline with love o Create resiliency and independence in your child o Foster a healthy social life in middle school o Guide their academic, athletic, and artistic life o Handle the new media and electronic devices o Develop work ethic and financial sense

Critical Connection is a parenting book that teaches parents how to build healthy, loving families that their 10-14-year-olds can rely on for safety, support, and unconditional love. People who loved Gary Chapman's Five Love Languages of Children and Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods will love this book.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780991131808
Publisher: White Orchard Press
Publication date: 11/21/2013
Pages: 238
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Andy Kerckhoff is a middle school teacher and the author of the blog Growing Up Well. He and his wife have been married for twenty years and have two teenage children.

Kerckhoff has served in various educational roles for over twenty years, including as an elementary school principal in Whitefish, Montana, and a high school teacher in Dallas, Texas. He currently serves as a seventh-grade English and World Geography teacher at Westminster Christian Academy in Saint Louis, Missouri.

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Critical Connection: A Practical Guide to Parenting Young Teens 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Andy is a wonderful father and husband to his family. His book will be a great tool to allow you to connect with your teenage. I've always thought that Andy is wise beyond his years! This is a great book BEFORE your kids reach this challenging time. Grab a few books for some friends when you purchase yours!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Concrete info for a grandmother of two boys this age. Loved the list of what what to know about your middle school child. The author obviously knows this age group and I appreciated his honest perspective as a parent. I even gave this book to a new graduated teacher that will be working with this age group! I recommend this for parents, grandparents, or friends of a middle school child.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read for any parent!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mike_Weinberg More than 1 year ago
I am a parent to three teenage children, and after reading Critical Connection, I sure wish I had this book a few years ago! Critical Conection is a must-have for parents of young teens. I so appreciate the author’s experience, perspective, his heart for kids, and his desire to help parents. The image on the front cover drew me in. How can I better connect with the heart of my kids – especially when their attention and heart’s desire is under constant influence from so many other “connectivity” sources – social media platforms, video games, music, texting, etc. Kerckhoff, in a gentle, yet authoritative and easy-to-read way, offers ideas, context, wisdom and hope. While I appreciated and received value from the whole book, my favorite chapter is the first chapter in Part 2: The Heart Matters Most. These strong words were great reminders: “A strong emotional bond between parent and child is the single most important aspect of raising children; the rest is details.” “Faithful love is irreplaceable. Unconditional love is the common denominator in every great relationship…” “Remember that rules without relationship leads to rebellion.” And Kerckhoff challenged me to remember to love my kids from the inside out – being more concerned with the condition of their hearts than the outward behavior which I am so quick to focus on and look to correct. This is an easy book to recommend to others. I look forward to not only reading it through again to glean more ideas, but also to purchasing copies for friends who would appreciate the encouragement and challenges.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dealing with kids who are going through adolescence is just hard. The author helps give practical ways to connect and care for teens in a way that is helpful and very doable. Dealing with teens can be overwhelming and makes a parent doubt their capability and effectiveness in the home. This book gives back some confidence and empowers parents to make it through this challenging season. The author has personal experience that speaks to the necessary issues.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My husband and I wanted to read this book because this will be a season of parenting we will enter before long. What I didn’t realize was how much the chapter “Fear Less” toward the middle of the book would impact me. It is very easy for me to parent out of “fear” instead of helping to raise a child to be brave. I am have several “mom friends” who need to read this book and will be encouraged by the practice insight/advice. Highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book. It is full of insight and helpful techniques. This momma of 6 is so thankful to have read this book. You will not be disappointed.
Odies More than 1 year ago
This book has a variety of resources covering various aspects of this age groups thoughts feelings and actions. An important read for all parents of 10 - 14 year olds.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to admit that I am not big on reading a lot of books on parenting for exactly something that Kerckhoff says in his book. They all seem to contradict each other. It's hard to know what or who to listen to. I appreciate the honest approach that the author has that this is not meant to be the perfect "how to" guide. There's not a formula or one right way. That had me hooked from the beginning. We have been reading this book in a small group at our church. The parents in this class have kids that range from toddlers to teenagers. It was applicable to everyone. Each parent discussed different thoughts, ideas, and important take aways. It's relatable on so many levels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
aged youth as I frequently coach and work with this age group. However, as a parent of two young girls, I found the advice in this book to be quite insightful and will no doubt prepare me for the adolescence years with my daughters. Even though the book focuses on adolescence, any parent, coach, youth leader, or mentor can benefit from understanding and applying the outlined tips and techniques; the concepts presented are practical and universal. I highly recommend this book!
Jake-Plummer More than 1 year ago
The book is a resource that should be on every parents’ nightstand. It is accessible, useful, practical and full of real-world advice. The messages are clear and will resonate with you long after you put it down. Well done Andy Kerckoff.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great tool for thinking about how to engage my kids. I've enjoyed the good ideas for connecting with my preteens. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I appreciate that Kerckhoff is coming from a place of authority, as a teacher of preteens and parent  of two. Yet he joins us in our struggles and never comes across as authoritarian or judgmental.  I was immediately drawn to the chapters on New Media and Mobile Devises. 1. parental concerns for  child's time management, balancing school responsibilities, social and family time and 2. a child's need and love of play.   Kerckhoff defines the challenge, possible responses some have crafted to deal with it,  enumerates the dangers and then, thankfully, gives very forceful  and useful suggestions. . .and encouragement.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Kerckhoff knows kids, what they think and how they act. His book is easy to read and his advice is clear and logical. As mentioned in the title, it is a practical guide. I highly recommend this book to all parents of teens and preteens!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Andy Kerckhoff is a knowledgeable author who speaks from his heart. Parents and grandparents alike will glean valuable insight by addlng this book to their library.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Critical Connection has answered many of my specific questions and has given me an overall peace and confidence to move into the next stage of parenting. I have a Master's degree in Elementary Education and my children are 4, 7, and 9. I am still in my parenting comfort zone. Time is passing quickly and I need to be as prepared as possible. My desire is to thrive, not to simply survive, through my kids' middle school years. After reading Kerckhoff's book, I now have a much better understanding of young teens and a positive attitude about parenting my children. The chapter "Taking Care of Yourself" would help even the newest parents. The chapter "Mobile Devices" was extremely eye opening and gave amazing tips that I would not have thought of on my own. I highly recommend this book for any parent to read from cover to cover and then to keep handy as a reference tool. This will make great Christmas gifts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is insightful, practical, and encouraging. It's interesting and easy to read. You will learn more about this age group and how to connect and guide them. Read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Critical Connection was a life-changing book for me. As a parent and a middle school teacher, it was a relief to me to realize that good parenting does not have to look the same for everyone. Most importantly, it is the connection and relationship we make with our kids that results in happy kids and a positive family life. My big take away from this book is that if we put relationship first, then all the other details of family life can fall in to a secure place. Often as parents, we feel like we have to follow certain parenting rules on things like time-outs, grounding, rewards, punishment, and other discipline tactics. Critical Connection, as the title indicates, goes beyond basic discipline. It helps us focus on putting relationships with our children first. Isn’t that what we as parents really want anyway? The rules don't set the table for a good relationship. It's the other way around. I really like the practical advice Kerckhoff gives on such relevant topics as social media, smart phones, and boundaries on screen time. He also has great suggestions for things to do as a family and takes into consideration the single parent. One of the first things we did as a family after reading his book was to go camping. Who knew such a simple thing (okay, camping really can be simple) could yield such great results! I feel as if I am parenting with more grace and love which has in turn made my kids easier to parent. This book will not leave you feeling as if you’ve done it all wrong, but instead, give you hope with a myriad of practical suggestions. It is encouraging, thought-provoking, and challenging. I recommend it to any parent or grandparent with kids in the 8-16 year range. I think you will see why I liked it so much.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Valerie Rouse for Readers' Favorite Critical Connection - A Practical Guide to Parenting Young Teens is a practical handbook designed to educate parents about good parenting. It is filled with examples of guidelines for daily living that are useful for navigating this confusing period in the lives of most teenagers. As a result of the onset of technology, mobile phones, video games and media on the whole seem to be taking over the lives of youngsters nowadays. Mr. Kerckhoff has suggested that parents must take a more active, supervisory role in their children’s lives and prevent a sedentary lifestyle from creeping in. Addiction to social gadgets can be preempted by creating a balanced lifestyle. For example, parents can encourage teens to go outdoors more often – involve them in activities like swimming, hiking or basketball. Their social, mental and psychological health must be maintained. In total, Mr. Kerckhoff revealed that parents should encourage their kids in all their endeavors. Teach them long-term skills like saving money and doing chores to prepare them for adulthood. Mr. Kerckhoff’s work is an essential handbook for today’s world. I appreciate the fact that he divided it into two distinct components –connections and guidance. This is so important because as parents we sometimes believe that our children will heed our instructions without us forming that emotional bond with them. This connection is vital if we are trying to impart knowledge and useful tips to our children to help them navigate the storms of life unscathed. Mr. Kerckhoff has skillfully devoted chapters to basic areas of life like the importance of athletics, work ethic and so on. I also like his inclusion of certain Bible verses to elucidate his points. He uses simple language which most readers can understand. In addition, his down to earth approach makes Critical Connection – A Practical Guide to Parenting Young Teens an enjoyable and informative read for both parents and teenagers. It will surely educate those parents who are overwhelmed by the rapid mood swings and behavior that their teenagers exhibit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago