My Teenage Zombie – a review

I have a confession as I begin this post: I’m not really into the zombie thing.  I have not watched a single minute of The Walking Dead.  I don’t watch zombie movies like World War Z, Shaun of the Dead or even Night of the Living Dead.

Probably the closest thing I’ve seen in the zombie genre is a particular episode of Phineas and Ferb that my son likes to watch and, of course, Michael Jackson’s classic music video, Thriller.

So, when I first saw this title, My Teenage Zombie, it didn’t really strike a chord with me.  However, as I read it, I found it to be a great description that Dr. Henderson carries throughout the book and is an image I as a parent could relate to as he spoke about the adolescent years.

This book is not bashing the adolescent years or railing against today’s teenagers.  It is rather a solid resource for parents who either have a teenager living under their roof or, better yet, have children that will be entering adolescence in the future.

In My Teenage Zombie Dr. Henderson addresses all the changes that teens are going through as well as the unique pressures students in our current culture are enduring.  He also offers some great insight to parents from his education and experience about how to understand and then engage with “teen zombies.”

He gives an apt description of what he considers a teen zombie:  “Undead adolescents are directionless, and this lack of direction leads them to focus all their attention on one thing:  themselves.”  As some students go through adolescence they sometimes fit this description and parents are left with the task of addressing their son or daughter in this zombie like state.

In offering some insights to parents, Dr. Henderson talks about these areas to address to resurrect an undead adolescent.  He writes that a teenage zombie lacks these three elements that are necessary to sustain life:

Pulse = direction
Spark = motivation
Fiber = determination

In the book he elaborates on each one both from the perspective of the teen and what he/she is going through, but also from the perspective of parents who could be feeling frustrated, confused and ready to give up.

Dr. Henderson had some good advice to parents and I thought this was especially poignant:  Parents are the stable framework that help a teen grow into a strong & mature adult. Be that stable & predictable framework for your kids.  What a good reminder that our teens need parents who will offer stability, predictability and consistency as they navigate the adolescent years.

The author offers a balance of medical information (I found the chapter that talked about the adolescent brain to be very interesting), real-life examples from his own experience as a psychiatrist, reflections from his own journey through adolescence and Biblical principles that speak to both parents and teens.

My Teenage Zombie is a good resource for parents who want to understand how to address the undead adolescent who might be living in their home and a great tool for families who look forward to navigating the ups and downs of the teen years.

To read more info on the book or to order a copy, click on the image at the top of the post to be directed to the publisher’s website.

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Middle School Ministry Made Simple

MSMMSWhen I started reading Middle School Ministry Made Simple by Kurt Johnston, I loved what he wrote about in the first chapter. He encouraged adults working with junior high/middle school students to remember their junior high years. That was a fun little trip in the way back machine.

I finished reading the book last week and thought it was an excellent overview of junior high/middle school ministry. In fact, I bought several copies for my junior high leaders at a great price (shhhh…don’t tell them – they haven’t been given the books yet).

A couple of things stood out to me from the book. The first was in the chapter on Planning Your Programs. He talked about the different types of students you have in your ministry. While I had heard these (and similar descriptions) before, it was a good reminder to me of the different students that make up a group. He identified these groups: Care Less, Curious, Caught, Committed and Contagious. I found it is easy to focus on just a couple of the groups and not consider all of the types of students when you program and plan.

In a different chapter Kurt wrote specifically to the leader of the junior high ministry and he defined several different roles the leader should take. Several stood out to me including Sell the Vision, Equip the Troops, Take the Heat, Pass the Praise and Beat the Drum. He elaborates on each role (you’ll need to get the book to see what he says), but it served as a good way to evaluate yourself if you serve as the point leader.

If you are involved in junior high/middle school ministry, this is a good resource for you and for your team.