I’ve had the blessing and — let’s be real — challenge of raising three teenage daughters. I remember when one of the girls was about 15, walking down the hall ahead of me at a school function. I asked her something, but she didn’t answer me. So I asked again. She turned around and angrily snapped at me. And I was … shocked. What had happened to the sweet little girl I’d known for years? According to David Henderson, chances were good that she had become a teenage zombie.
When my kids were born, somehow I never envisioned them as teens. Babies, sure. Elementary kids maybe, although even this seemed impossibly far into the future. If I ever thought of the teen years at all, I probably guessed they would be similar to me as a teen: valedictorian of my class, practicing two musical instruments each 30 minutes daily, spending hours on homework, and doing pretty much anything my mom suggested to me. It was only years later that I realized that I was not a typical teenager.
My Teenage Zombie
When I was asked to review My Teenage Zombie, at first I wasn’t sure. I think the “zombie” bit put me off. I’ll admit to not being part of the zombie craze, but it’s definitely a thing. I went to a writer’s conference in 2011, and I swear half the people there were pitching some sort of book with a zombie connection. Zombies and Jane Austen. Jesus becomes a zombie. Et cetera. It did not really appeal to me, but it apparently does for a sizeable portion of the population.
Author David Henderson goes with the premise that kids become “zombies” as they enter adolescence. There is a heavy emphasis on the undead, resurrecting zombies, zombie pulse, etc. Again, not something I really relate to, so it was a little difficult for me to really “get into” the book.
When I did, though, I found several interesting points. A few that resonated —
- Many of today’s teens are overwhelmed by the sheer number of opportunities available to them. This creates pressure, which can lead kids to shut down and seem to have little motivation. Many search for an elusive “right job” that will fulfill them, and either avoid any job at all or move from one to another in the quest for one that feels right.
- Adolescent brains go through dramatic changes prior to reaching maturity. This tremendously influences teens’ attitudes and actions, and not all of it is their “fault” or is even done consciously.
- Our teens need us as parents, but they often don’t like us. We are seen as the enemy, and need to be prepared to take a beating. “It is easy to feel guilt and shame for failing to have your kids like you, but this is the reality that almost every parent experiences. Don’t feel guilty about being the bad guy. Recognize that this is a season of life, and that someday, if you stay consistent and predictable in your actions toward your children, they will come to thank you for it in the end.”
- Almost every parent of teens faces exhaustion at times. Those who don’t are either lying or extremely lucky.
- “A child who is naturally compliant and easygoing can make parenting a relatively painless experience, bringing pleasure and pride to relatively uninvolved parents. On the other hand, a strong-willed, irritable, and unpredictable child can drive the best of parents crazy. Many times the success or failure of guiding a child through the challenges of adolescence depends more on how good of a fit the parent and child are for each other.”
If you can overlook the zombie stuff and a tone that sometimes veers into the clinical (hey, the author is board-certified in psychiatry), you’ll find this book useful if you have — or will have — teens. And if your kids are a bit older, into their 20s, you will still get some meat out of this book. Henderson often refers to “zombies” in their 20s, and with the way adolescence has been extended these days, that makes sense.
Win your own copy
I appreciate Thomas Nelson sending me a review copy of My Teenage Zombie. If you’d like to enter to win a copy, you can do that right here —
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