Co-authors release book on parenting teens

Business: Literature offers strategies to prepare children to launch into real world

Special to the GatewayDecember 18, 2013 

Parenting teens can add twists and turns, navigating an already dynamic relationship between parents and children. Gig Harbor co-authors Dennis Trittin and Arlyn Lawrence address the subject with their release of “Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World.” The book, available at area stores and online, offers strategies for parents to develop strong relationships and skills for success in the world outside of home influence.

Trittin, a former investment manager and senior executive for Russell Investments, spent more than 28 years evaluating qualities of leadership for clients, giving him a perspective of strategies that generate leaders. An opportunity to create a financial leadership curriculum for a school moved his career into the writing field.

During summer 2008, Trittin wrote a list of 109 pointers for his college-bound son. He was encouraged to put them into a book and was connected with Lawrence, a former editor and writer who has a background in family and child development.

Trittin founded LifeSmart Publishing, and in 2011, the two published “What I Wished I knew at 18: Life Lessons for the Road Ahead.” The release was followed by a leadership and life-skills curriculum guide that has been used by schools, mentors, consumer science teachers and counselors worldwide.

Chapters offer ideas for parents and young people ways to build foundational leadership skills and parenting advice on keeping a trusting relationship during the turbulent teen years.

“There is an anxiety in parenting teens,” Lawrence said. “People tell us they had a great support group for the toddler and preschool years, but there isn’t support for parenting teens. This book addresses the vacuum that exists for the void. Each chapter ends with ‘Take 5’ to lend itself to regenerating support groups and discussions.”

The book also has a broader application.

“It isn’t just for high school-age children,” Trittin said. “Parents should understand it’s never too early to understand the road ahead.”

“One main chapter theme is ‘Give Them Wings, Not Strings,” Lawrence added. “Parents realize the stakes are high for teens, and making mistakes can cause higher consequences. The tendency is for parents to tighten control of a teen, when the important factor is to give them room to grow and make decisions on their own. It’s counterintuitive, but a teen too tightly controlled may not have the strong personal leadership skills needed to succeed on their own.”

Another theme is what the authors call “parental transition, from driver’s seat to passenger seat.”

“We want parents to be confident knowing they are releasing a responsible, prepared leader into the real world to make good life decisions on their own,” Trittin said. “Society and many parents have become performance-driven, with self-worth being based on grades or making the competitive team. It’s creating a tremendous amount of insecurity with our young people.

“It’s important to affirm teens they have immeasurable worth, and their primary value is in who they are with their unique personal assets,” Trittin said.

There are exercises to do and a checklist with issues parents can cover.

“One exercise uses a modified balance sheet to give teens an opportunity to discover themselves and their special qualities,” Trittin said. “By 17, they are making life decisions and need to know who they are and what opportunities they have for their life.”

The outline for the book was laid out from parents and schools.

“The process was effortless,” Trittin said. “We started in June and were finished by October. We work together extensively had the ability to interchange the lead role easily.”

Lawrence said they could draw from each other’s strengths.

“I did a message for moms, and Dennis utilized his extensive background in developing leadership strategies,” Lawrence said.

The authors see an advantage with the book coming from the perspective of a mother and father from two different households. Each has lived through the teen transition years.

Trittin has two children, one in college, the other an adult. Lawrence has “launched” four of her five children and is a grandmother.

“Parenting” is receiving high praise and endorsements from nationally recognized people, including Troy Alstead, the CFO of Starbucks, John Carpenter, the vice president of Weyerhaeuser, and Jeff Kemp, a former NFL quarterback and president of Family Life.

The authors are working on a home study guide for parents and teens to work together in conjunction with the book. They’re scheduled for speaking engagements and workshops next year.

“We want parents to have the tools to be inspired to give kids wings,” Lawrence said.

Books are for sale at Morford’s Hallmark, 4914 Point Fosdick Drive NW, at Dightmans Bookstore, 5500 Olympic Drive, and on Amazon and Atlas Publishing websites.

For more information, visit www.parentingforthelaunch.com.

Kim Eibel is a freelance writer for The Peninsula Gateway.

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