3 Books Guiding Christian Teens to Make Wise Decisions – by Sally Matheny

During my thirty-plus years of motherhood, one of my favorite things has been searching for exceptional books to read to, and to be read by, our children. For this post, we’ll talk about three books guiding Christian teens to make wise decisions.

There are numerous books for Christian teens out there. However, I thought I’d feature three of the books our eleventh-grade son is reading this year.

If you have high school kids, then perhaps you’re sensing how quickly the time is passing. It is not the time to let up in praying for and with them. Nor is it time to stop guiding them in how to make wise decisions.  

There are times to speak, times to act, and times to hand them a book!

Our son is not an avid fan of reading, but he has always enjoyed us reading aloud to him—even as a teen. So, if you have kids who aren’t big on reading, consider reading aloud to them. Read as much as you think is enjoyable to them—whether that’s a chapter or just a few pages a day.

One of my greatest temptations is to “preach” after an author makes a great point—sort of like “amen-ing” at church. The other temptation I have is trying to engage my teen too long in a conversation about what we’re reading.

Each child is different. Our oldest would’ve loved an hour-long discussion of a book. Our youngest, not so much. The key is to find excellent books and let them speak for themselves. Talk with your teens but stay in the enjoyable fellowship zone. Stop well before your teens’ tipping point to frustration.  

A Book to Guide Wise Decisions in Dating

Whether your teen is dating or not, Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships is a book that’s helpful, even in building friendships.

Published by Zondervan, this book is written by two best-selling authors, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Both are Christian psychologists and leadership experts.

One way I approached this book with my son was mentioning how his friends seem to come to him for advice concerning their relationships with others. I told him if teens were coming to him for advice, then he might find this book helpful. Not only could he share insights from the book with them, but in the process, he, too, would learn and store beneficial information about how to grow healthy relationships.

Even I learned a lot by reading this book. Many of the examples of a relationship problems given in the book made me think of someone who had experienced something similar. Sadly, the people who came to my mind were people with marriage problems. I wonder if things would’ve turned out differently for them if they had been able to read this book prior to marriage.

When you see the words “boundaries in dating,” you may think it’s only about physical boundaries. This book addresses far more than that. The authors give examples of how boundary problems present themselves. Loss of freedom to be oneself; being with the wrong person; dating from inner hurt rather than our values; not dating; dating too much in the relationship; freedom without responsibility; control issues; not taking the responsibility to say no; and sexual impropriety are all covered.

Readers are encouraged to value what their boundaries protect—their emotions, values, behaviors, and attitudes. “Boundaries help you be yourself, instead of losing yourself in someone else.”

Each chapter is summarized with a “Conclusion” and ends with practical, easy-to-understand “Take-Away Tips.”

Currently, we are about two-thirds into reading this book. So far, everything we’ve read has been presented with a biblical worldview. Scriptures used in the book are from the NIV Bible.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is dating, from teen to older adult. It offers wise Christian counseling on how to determine the root of problems in relationships and practical steps to take in dealing with them.  

A Guide for Making Meaningful Life Decisions

Life on the Edge: The Next Generation’s Guide to a Meaningful Future is written by Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family. Like Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend, Dobson, too, is a licensed psychologist. Also, he has years of experience as a marriage, family, and child counselor.

Our son is reading this book on his own. However, I am reading it as well and usually stay a chapter or two ahead of him. It’s been interesting how the content in this book coincides with and confirms some of the topics mentioned in the Boundaries in Dating book.

I bought this book several years ago but didn’t think our son was ready then for some of the topics addressed. In fact, Dr. Dobson recommends the book for ages 16 -26. He calls this the “critical decade” in which some of the most dramatic and permanent changes take place.

Now, our son is seventeen. He and his friends have had challenging moments as they learn how to make wise decisions. Many parents dismiss these years as a phase teens go through. But, as Dr. Dobson points out, it’s a time when life-altering decisions are made.

Dr. Dobson helps young adults see how often disappointment occurs due to the refusal of placing God first and foremost in their decision-making.

In addition, Dr. Dobson candidly shares about battles and failures from his own young adulthood years. His stories, as well as those of others, reveal principles to help young adults move in the right direction for making wise choices.

Much of the book contains Dr. Dobson’s answers to questions sent to him. Dr. Dobson is not afraid to tackle tough subjects.

The interview Dr. Dobson had with serial killer, Ted Bundy, is eye-opening. Bundy shares how he was raised in a Christian home but how his sampling of pornography led him down a horrible path of destruction. Significant life-changing points are driven home in this interview.

I recommend parents preview this book to determine the appropriate time for their teens to read it. But, definitely read it. Ignorance is not bliss when our kids are naïve and led astray. It’s important they learn about Satan’s subtle tactics before they encounter them.

Published by Multnomah Books, the scriptures quoted in this book are from various versions of the Bible. The gospel is clearly imbedded throughout Life on the Edge.

The Most Important Book for Christian Teens

I’m mentioning the Bible last, but only for emphasis. When you click away from this blog, I want your last thoughts to be about the most important book of all.

First, teens must decide if they believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God, the creator and ruler of all things.

There are resources to help families learn about the history and validity of the Bible. One place to start is with this FOF post on How Do We Know the Bible is True?

As for me and my family, we believe the Bible to be the best book of all. God’s words of truth and wisdom are the foundation on which all else is weighed. We are all at various points of spiritual maturity. None of us have arrived at a full understanding and will not until we are in heaven.

As a young believer in elementary school, I did not appreciate the immeasurable value of the Holy Bible. It wasn’t until I was a teen that I began to “hammer out” my faith.

It was during that critical decade which Dr. Dobson talks about in Life on the Edge when I began praying for understanding of God’s Word and for wisdom in making decisions.

Even though the best book to guide Christian teens is the Bible, no doubt, there are teens who will pick up many other books to read before they’ll pick up a Bible. God can use Christian writers to point to biblical truth.

Share your thoughts with us. What excellent book have you found for Christian teens?

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a nonfiction book, just one that’s written in a way that doesn’t contradict God’s Word.  

A freelance writer, Sally Matheny’s writing is published in worldwide, national, regional, online and print publications including AppleseedsClubhouse Jr., Homeschooling Today, and The Old Schoolhouse. As a writer, blogger, and speaker, Sally encourages parents to live victoriously and courageously tell the next generation wondrous things. Connect with her on several social media sites, although her favorite hangouts are at SallyMatheny.com and Pinterest. Sally is Write2Ignite’s Pinterest editor.

2 thoughts on “3 Books Guiding Christian Teens to Make Wise Decisions – by Sally Matheny

  1. These 2 books, and the Bible, of course, sound like great resources for teens, and I appreciated your insights in to how to read them to or with teens, depending on their personalities and experiences.

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