Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Practical Advice for Parents (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review)

Practical Advice for Parents (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

I recently had an opportunity to choose a DVD of parenting teaching from Parenting Made Practical to review. Since my kids are all older (teens and young adults), I thought the most suitable for me to look at was a video titled Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate ... What Works

parenting made practical

Parenting Made Practical is the ministry of parenting educators Joey and Carla Link. Joey draws on his experience as a youth and family pastor for 16 years, and as the Director of Family Life Resources for over 20 years. Carla has a degree in social work and has assisted Joey in his ministries by writing and teaching Bible studies for girls and women. She has also had a speaking ministry in moms groups and co-teaches with Joey at parenting conferences. Together they have partnered with the parenting ministry Growing Families Int'l for 20 years as well.

There are several books and DVDs, and other resources available through Parenting Made Practical, and the Homeschool Review Crew members are sharing reviews of several of them this week. The titles include: 
A couple of those titles look like they would have been super helpful when my kids were little - can I get an amen? 

Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate...What Works? DVD & Workbooks

But my kids are not little any more, so I watched the DVD Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate ... What Works and followed along in the accompanying 50-page workbook. The DVD is a video of a workshop session led by Joey and Carla in which they presented to a group of parents and teens their teaching on Friendship Dating. There are actually two sessions - Session 1 on Developing Your Dating Philosophy runs about 50 minutes, and Session 2 on How to Make It Work is just under an hour. The workbook has some additional information along with the session outline so you can take notes and fill in some blanks as you watch.

The presentation is fairly basic - Joey does most of the speaking with Carla adding in some anecdotes and sharing some of the information as well. They draw on their ministry experience and their own parenting experiences with their three children (now grown and married) as they explain their family's approach to dating philosophy and make practical suggestions for young people and parents in putting the philosophy into practice. There are no nifty (or distracting) graphics and "extras" - just Joey and Carla speaking, and some very simple notes and diagrams that Joey draws on a large easel. The sound quality is clear, and I have to say that surprised me a bit because Joey uses a lapel mic but Carla uses a handheld mic. I'm not sure why she didn't have a lapel mic as well, but there must have been a reason, and since it didn't affect the sound quality, it was just this minor little thing that would puzzle me every now and again. 

Initially, I expected that the workbook would be the outline of the presentation with room to take notes, but it actually contains a fair amount of reading. Much of it is the same as what they speak about, but there are some extras as well, and it's in a slightly different order. There's not a ton of room to make your own notes, but since most of the material is included, I didn't find that I needed to write much down beyond filling in the blanks and jotting a few keywords here and there.

The original presentation was given to an audience of parents and teens, so the DVD would certainly also be appropriate for parents and teens to view together. I decided to watch it on my own, to see if I might want to share it with my kids at some point. 

So let me summarize a bit of what the presentation covers. Session 1 starts out with some statistics and the common concerns that parents have about their teens and dating relationships. There's a discussion of how teens typically respond to parents who are too authoritarian or too permissive when it comes to handling dating. (Spoiler alert - it's usually not good.) Then follows a discussion of the two ends of the relationship spectrum - cultural dating (exclusive dating relationships that generally get too involved too quickly and seldom end well) and strict courtship dating (where the parents set all the parameters and effectively hold control over the relationship). There are some very real potential problems with both mindsets, and the philosophy the Links present is one they call Friendship Dating. In this approach, the guy and girl are still in control of the relationship, with input from the parents, and can get to know each other more gradually and with some clear guidelines for keeping the different aspects of their friendship and relationship in balance. The Links identify four areas of growth in the relationship - mental, physical, social, and spiritual. 

In Session 2, the Links go into more detail about those four areas of growth and some suggested guidelines and boundaries for the friendship at each level (potential for relationship, possible marriage choice, probable mate, and proposal - which I think I would call the planning to get married stage). The goals are for the couple to get to know each other incrementally and without allowing any one area to get out of balance with the others, so that practical relationship building is happening along with the emotional aspects. The goal of honoring God in relationships is clearly highlighted.

Some of the important take-home messages are that a healthy and open parent-child relationship is essential to being able to positively guide and influence your teen or young adult in their choice of a life partner; that young people do need to be mature enough to set their own goals, guidelines, and ownership of the relationship before they start dating; and that the parents and family should remain involved and available throughout the dating relationship. While there are many practical and encouraging ideas given, this presentation doesn't get into any specifics about how some of these things might work in a single-parent family or a family that already has serious relationship problems. It's definitely geared to healthy, properly functioning, two-parent Christian families. I didn't find any of the ideas or philosophy to be ground-breaking or really "new" or "different" from our family's views of dating - but definitely more structured and methodically laid out. I somehow can't imagine a young couple having a detailed checklist of goals for four areas of a relationship at four different levels that they would diligently check off before moving on to the next clearly defined level, so that part doesn't seem practical. I would expect my son or daughter to have thought through these kinds of things before getting into that friendship dating process and be able to talk about goals and boundaries with that potential mate as the relationship progresses naturally.

What I liked best:
  • for the most part, it really was practical information about establishing healthy relationships and didn't swing to an extreme with unattainable ideals
  • the Links have a kind and friendly manner in their presentation, that didn't come across as judgmental or "this is the only correct method." I found Joey to be quite engaging and relatable.
  • lots of information in the workbook - I didn't feel like I had to take copious notes, because most of it was already in there. The flipside of this is that there's not room to take notes either.
What I need to mention:
  • it's not a visually rich or entertaining presentation, so it might not hold the interest of teens. I'd say if you plan to watch and discuss with your teen, be sensitive to their willingness and choose your time wisely. I predict my kids would roll their eyes too often.
  • although it appears that the presentation is aimed at teens and their parents and would give guidance for teens who want to pursue a dating relationship, near the end the caveat is given that very few teens are mature enough for these kinds of decisions. While that is generally true, it felt rather like all this advice was being given for how 16- or 17-year-olds could start navigating through special friendships without all the casual dating drama, but then told at the end "but never mind about all that for another six to eight years because you can't handle it now anyway". In contrast, I tend to think that this kind of purposeful friendship is exactly what teens need to understand so that they can make mature decisions about how to pursue those friendships with more realistic expectations and consideration for each other.
  • The workbook doesn't always follow the same order as the recorded presentation so there are some places where I started writing something only to realize it was already there on a different page, or something similar.
  • I'm not sure this friendship dating approach is truly "fresh and unique" in terms of bringing something totally brand new to the table. I wasn't blown away by amazing insights I'd never thought of before. I was given a very structured framework for what a practical, balanced ideal of dating for Christian young people could look like. 
parenting made practical

Would you be interested in practical parenting resources like this? Here's what you need to know: 
Visit the website: www.ParentingMadePractical.com/

Pricing: See the Bookstore page for pricing info for all products and packages. The Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate ... What Works package of DVD and workbook is available for $24.95.

Age Recommendation: This DVD is geared to parents, and may also be viewed with teens.

You can follow Parenting Made Practical on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog for more information and to read other reviews. Crew members reviewed several other Parenting Made Practical titles, so be sure to check out all the reviews!

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