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Aleteia posed six questions to authors, educators, and parents-of-teens Tim and Sue Muldoon about their newly-released book, The Discerning Parent: An Ignatian Guide to Raising Your Teen.
1) What inspired the book?
Two things: our professional lives and our parenting teens. Tim is a theologian who has taught Ignatian spirituality for years at Boston College, and Sue is a therapist and religious educator who has counseled many young adults over the years. We saw a need as parents to reflect intelligently on how we parent our teens, and drew inspiration from the same Ignatian tradition that gave rise to our first book, Six Sacred Rules for Families.
2) What story or anecdote (or piece of advice) in this book most personally resonated with you?
We wanted to write this because we thought that thinking about this topic would spill over into prayer and practical considerations for our parenting style. One key fruit of that time has been a greater sense of intention in really parenting our teens, not just assuming that since they are older they don’t need us anymore. Taking the long view of our oldest daughter’s well-being in the midst of a college search, for example, has yielded greater patience and compassion for what is a stressful time of life.
3) Did writing this book teach you anything?
Absolutely—and it’s related to the above point. Teens need careful love and attention just as much as toddlers do, though of course in very different ways. We have to make time for them, be thoughtful and positive. We made the comparison with marriage research, which suggests (to use one example) that a successful relationship involves five positive interactions for every negative one. We carry that same logic into our interactions with our teens now.
4) If there is one person you want to reach with this book, who would that be?
The mom or dad who is becoming frustrated at how poorly they and their teens communicate. We’ve experienced that.
5) What is the ideal beverage to have in hand while reading your book?
Sweet tea, with caffeine. You lose a lot of sleep when you have teens.