Understanding Your Teen: Shaping Their Character, Facing Their Realities, By Jim Burns

Understanding Your Teen

Shaping Their Character, Facing Their Realities

by Jim Burns

Understanding Your Teen
  • Length: 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: November 14, 2017
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 4487
  • ISBN: 9780830844876

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Parenting teenagers is one of the biggest challenges parents face. New realities make becoming independent more difficult. Teens are traveling a different road and are moving at a different pace than those of previous generations. Today's cultural environment is more complicated and confusing than ever.

But fear not! Family expert Jim Burns provides a handy guide for parenting teens. For teens to become responsible adults, parents need to help them grow through developmental changes to attain a healthy self-identity, establish good relationships, make wise decisions, and grow in their relationship with God. Burns shows how parents can shape behavior and character, navigate social media challenges, and communicate and resolve conflict healthily. He also tackles the realities of our day, including cyberbullying, dating violence, self-injury, depression, and much more.

Whether you're facing serious troubles or need simple tips for a better family life, this book offers help and hope.

"Being a teenager is hard! Being the parent of a teenager is equally hard! I can't imagine anyone better at helping teens and their parents navigate this season of life than Jim Burns. Understanding Your Teen is filled with practical wisdom and great stories. Philip and I have known Jim for decades, and his wisdom on family dynamics has been a great help to us personally as well as to our church, Oasis. If you are doing your best to understand your teenager, or if you know someone who is, then I can't suggest strongly enough that you need this book!"

Holly Wagner, pastor, Oasis Church, author of Find Your Brave

"I can't think of any twenty-first–century leader who has earned more right to speak to the topic of parent-teen relationships than Jim Burns! His sage insights come from his highly successful decades of being in the youth ministry trenches like few others. If you are the parent of a teenager, disregard this book at your own peril."

Jeanne Mayo, executive director of youth and young adult outreach, Victory World Church, Atlanta

"Once again, Jim Burns has written a practical, user-friendly guide for parents who are asking how to handle the predictable—and in some cases, not so predictable—issues that arise in the course of navigating the teen years. It will point parents in the right direction, keep them on the straight path, and bolster their parenting confidence."

John Rosemond, family psychologist, author of Parenting by the Book

"Jim Burns is a life-giving blend of encouragement and wisdom for all parents of teenagers. Understanding Your Teen will quickly become one of your go-to books as you navigate the highs and lows of adolescence."

Kara Powell, executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute, coauthor of Growing Young

"I don't know anyone I trust more to help me with my teens or you with yours than Jim Burns. He has spent his life studying teens and the youth culture helping parents make sense of it all. This book is the culmination of that work; I couldn't recommend it more. Loving and parenting your teen well begins with understanding them, and this is the resource that will get you there."

Ron L. Deal, speaker, therapist, and author of The Smart Stepfamily and The Smart Stepmom

"'So, even though we were all teenagers once, in a very real way we were never the age of today's teens.' That sentence is so Jim Burns. A little counterintuitive perhaps, but right on the money. Of course Jim doesn't just leave you hanging with those pithy statements. Jim applies all his experience, wisdom, and communication savvy to help you understand exactly what he means. Pretty soon you'll be quoting Jim Burns too (just like I've been doing for years). Simply put, nobody is more qualified to write a book for parents about teenagers. He's been there, done that—and he's been doing it for years. He covers key developmental issues but doesn't dwell on them or keep restating the obvious. He gets to the good stuff right away: great advice, insights, and practical how-tos for parents who want to succeed with their kids and see them grow into capable, well-adjusted, fun-to-be-around grownups."

Wayne Rice, cofounder, Youth Specialties, and conference director, the Legacy Coalition

"This really is the very best book I've ever read on parenting teenagers. It combines biblical wisdom, experience, discernment, and a heart attitude that builds relationships with our teenagers rather than driving them away, while setting clear expectations and boundaries. It addresses the most troubling and difficult areas of parenting teens without clichés or platitudes. It is absolutely the most practical and helpful book for youth workers, parents, and grandparents of teens I've come across. I highly recommend it!"

Chip Ingram, senior pastor, Venture Christian Church, and teaching pastor, Living on the Edge Ministry

"Jim Burns consistently delivers concise yet practical helps for parents and youth workers, and Understanding Your Teen is no exception. This is a must-read for anyone who intends to influence their children toward God's best."

Wayne Cordeiro, New Hope International

"There is no such thing as a perfect parent, but there can be an informed and intentional parent . . . and this book will help. If you want guidance navigating the minefields of adolescence, this is your guide. Pick it up, digest, and you'll soon learn you're not alone in your journey. Practical help is waiting for you."

Doug Fields, author, Purpose Driven Youth Ministry

"As a lifelong youth worker, I'd always suspected that parenting teenagers wasn't easy; but after the fits and starts, joys and anxieties of parenting two of my own, I'm convinced that parenting teenagers is the single most difficult task in the universe. But like most difficult tasks, parenting teens can be immeasurably rewarding. What we all need—and what Jim Burns provides in this helpful book—is a wise traveling companion."

Mark Oestreicher, partner in the Youth Cartel, author of Understanding Your Young Teen

"The new book from Jim Burns, Understanding Your Teen, is sure to become a classic for parents whose hearts desire is to help shape their teen's character while facing and dealing with the realities of today's world. Jim will not only educate you, he will also give you the practical tools you need to help your teen make wise choices while maintaining a strong relationship that may be your lifeline for the future."

David and Claudia Arp, authors of Suddenly They're 13

"As a father of seven children with ages ranging from three to twenty, I need all the help I can get—especially in building a closer relationship with my teenagers. Sometimes when I read a parenting book, I come away feeling discouraged because of all the ways I am falling short. Not this time! This book is packed with honest, biblically grounded conversations about the issues my teens are facing. This book will encourage you to keep connecting with the heart your teen."

Rob Rienow, founder of Visionary Family Ministries

"There's never been a more difficult time to raise teenagers. Not only are the teen years often fraught with angst and confusion—for kids and parents alike!—but also today's kids are facing challenges unique to their generation. In this volume, Jim Burns is placing an arm around stressed-out parents and showing them how to guide their teens toward adulthood with grace, wisdom, and compassion."

Jim Daly, president, Focus on the Family

"Don't believe the idea that the teenage years are something to dread! As the parent of two teens, I am so grateful for my friend Jim Burns and Understanding Your Teen. While today's kids face challenges that no other generation has faced, these years can also be wonderful—and this book shows us how!"

Shaunti Feldhahn, author of For Women Only and For Parents Only

"The family is the seedbed that best nourishes spiritual growth. When that soil is fertile with the grace and nutrients of Christian nurture, it provides the best environment for young people to grow into healthy, capable, spiritually fruitful human beings. Jim Burns is a guy who has been cultivating this soil for a long time. You'll appreciate the practical ideas in this book. Clearly, this is a writer not afraid to get down and dirty into the mud, mess, and wonder of raising healthy teenagers. With just the right combination of practical wisdom, 'can we talk here?' realism, and Christ-centered hopefulness, Jim gives us a wonderful resource for growing teenagers into young adults."

Duffy Robbins, professor of youth ministry, Eastern University

"Understanding Your Teen is a must-have for any parent! It is also a great resource for anyone who works with young people. Dr. Burns peels back the layers of adolescence and gives an inside glimpse into the perspective and world of teens. This book truly covers it all!"

Albert Tate, lead pastor, Fellowship Monrovia

"A lot of people understand teens but they don't know how to help you guide and lead yours. Jim does. My wife and I have two teens in college and two at home, and Jim's books such as The Purity Code have helped us greatly mold their characters—but this is a book that covers so much more. Anyone with a teenager (or someone acting like one) will benefit greatly from the wisest mind I know when it comes the challenge of raising great teenagers into outstanding adults."

Steve Arterburn, president, New Life Ministries

"Understanding Your Teen offers a lifetime of wisdom and insight for every parent, educator, and youth worker. Jim knows kids, parenting, marriage, and the family like few others, and in this book he brings important perspectives to some of the most vital current issues. A great resource for a couple, small group, or ministry leadership team."

Chap Clark, author, Hurt 2.0: Inside the World of Today's Teenagers, and professor of youth, family, and culture, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Parenting is complicated . . . but the teen years can be about as stressful as they come. Jim brings a lifetime's worth of experience to this book on parenting teens. This book shows incredible insight into what the issues today actually are, and gives practical guidance on how to handle them. You'll be so grateful for this book."

Carey Nieuwhof, founding pastor, Connexus Church

"Understanding Your Teen is a lightning bolt that will enlighten and energize parents, educators, and ministers. Jim Burns has been one of the most heavy-hitting and winning coaches of all time, not at the Super Bowl or a national championship game, but in the most crucial arena of them all . . . empowering us so that we can empower our most cherished possessions, children and grandchildren."

Jay Strack, founder and president, Student Leadership University

"My wife and I just entered the parenting teens phase. Our desire is to influence, not control, our children during these foundational years. My go-to guy for all things parenting is Jim Burns. Understanding Your Teen is the first step toward influencing your teen. We fully support the message of this book."

Ted Cunningham, pastor, Woodland Hills Family Church, author, Fun Loving You and Trophy Child

"Whether you're facing serious troubles or need simple tips for a better family life, this book offers the help you need to guide your teen to a healthy, God-honoring, and fulfilling future."

Today’s Christian Living, January 2018

"Parents, pastors, youth leaders, teachers, and anyone else who lives or works with tweens and teens will find in this book a valuable resource."

Sonya VanderVeen Feddema, The Banner, February 16, 2018


How to Use This Book

Part One: Parenting Teens to Become Responsible Adults
1. Understanding Your Teenager
2. Learning the Developmental Stages of Adolescence
3. Shaping Behavior Without Crushing Character
4. Energizing Your Teen’s Spiritual Life
5. Creating a Media-Safe Home
6. Teaching Healthy Sexuality
7. Ending the Homework Hassle While Preparing for College
8. Keeping the Communication Lines Open
9. The Changing Culture
10. Your Marriage as You Raise Your Teen
11. Dealing with a Troubled Teen

Part Two: Common Teen Issues and What Parents Can Do
12. Bullying and Cyberbullying
13. Tragedy
14. Dating Violence
15. Depression
16. Dinnertime
17. Driving
18. Drug and Alcohol Use and Abuse
19. Eating Disorders
20. Overweight and Obesity
21. Self-Injury
22. Sexual Abuse
23. Sleep
24. Suicide

Notes Acknowledgments


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Jim Burns

Jim Burns, PhD, is president of HomeWord and executive director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Host of the nationwide HomeWord radio broadcasts, he also speaks around the world at seminars and conferences. His many books include Confident Parenting, Pass It On, Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality, and 10 Building Blocks for a Solid Family. He and his wife, Cathy, live Southern California and have three grown daughters.