Book Review of PARENTING FOR THE LAUNCH by Dennis Trittin & Arlyn Lawrence

Parenting for the Launch (LifeSmart Pub. 2013), 190 pages text plus 11 pages of appendices and 1 page of endnotes.

Parenting for the Launch: Raising teens to succeed in the real world is written for parents and guardians of teens to prepare children to successfully leave home and launch out into the real world. The authors explain that “25% of U.S. high school students don’t graduate high school, the U.S. ranks last in industrialized nations for graduating our college students, and the current level of unemployment for teens is 23.7%.” (p. 12) Thus there is room for improvement in preparing our children to successfully transition to adult life outside the home. And once our children have launched we want them to be successful, diligent, respectful and good stewards of their resources, whether they go to college, the military or straight into the work force. The authors use a multi-pronged approach for these preparations. The aspects they look at include: 1) family environment, 2) fostering leadership, 3) self discovery, 4) understanding finances, and 5) jobs.

  1. Family. The authors provide a sample mission statement on pages 30-31 and suggest that we try to come up with one for our own families. “MISSION: To inspire, equip, and empower our future adults who are admired for their character, respected for their gifts and talents, and remembered for the love and service they give to others.”
  2. Leadership. The authors discuss nurturing leadership skills in our children. “Helping teens develop a leadership foundation for life is one of our most important parenting responsibilities. It has a huge bearing on whether they will reach their full potential and make wise life decisions.” (p. 39)
  3. Self Discovery. “The DISC ® Personality Profile is based on the work of renowned psychologist Dr. William Marston, a contemporary of Carl Jung. Marston developed the DISC Personality Profile in the 1920’s, after studying the personality traits, behavioral patterns, and instinctual reactions of thousands of individuals. As a result of his work, Marston developed the DISC assessment tool for measuring four primary behavioral traits: Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S), and Conscientiousness (C)….Using the DISC model, we can group people according to their pace (fast or slow) and priority (tasks or people). There is no right or wrong (we all have a style!), and everyone falls somewhere on both of these continuums.” (p. 80)
    1. D—Dominant—Decisive, confident, self-directed, independent, direct, a change-agent.
    2. I—Influencing—Relational, interactive, expressive, visionary, emotional, fun-loving, optimistic.
    3. S—Steady/Stable—Dependable, loyal, committed, supportive, cooperative.
    4. C—Conscientious—Self-disciplined, cautious, detailed, analytical, intuitive.
    5. Where you land in the spectrum will indicate what your personality, motivations, priorities, and comfortable pace looks like in real life, as you relate to the world around you, including and especially your kids.” (pp. 82-83.)“It’s helpful to share this information with your teen. Teens are in an important time of self-discovery. They don’t know that everyone is not wired like they are and they don’t know exactly how their parents are wired, either. They may feel that different is “bad” when it comes to personality differences, relational needs, and behavioral styles. Help them identify their own strengths and weaknesses—and be honest about your own. This is a helpful item for their life skills tool box that will serve them well in their relationships with you and others.” (p. 95). The authors also discuss helping the teen discern all the voices in their lives: friends, parents, teachers, media voices and even make the point that our homes convey messages to our children about who they are. Helping our children discover who they are is critically helpful during the years before the transition. It helps our children make wise choices after they leave home.
  4. Finances. They also recommend we teach our children how to be financially responsible and financially conversant in investments, debt and daily expenditures. “Do they understand that the three best ways to avoid poverty are to graduate from high school, not marry before 20, and only have children after they marry?” (p. 201, appendix)
  5. Jobs. In regard to jobs the authors discuss performance reviews. They suggest we coach our teens to ask their job supervisor what constitutes an “excellent” performance rating and then for the teen to work hard to achieve that excellent rating. The authors also ask “Have you shared the key transition risks with them: social impatience, lack of study disciplines, damaging recreational habits, lack of a support network and spiritual life, excessive personal performance stress, and financial irresponsibility?” (p. 202, appendix).

Finally, the authors recommend making a blessing packet for our teens and give it to them right before they leave home. “One of the greatest gifts parents can give their children is the loving perspectives of their uniqueness and value. A great example is to put together a “blessing packet.” You don’t need to call it that; you can name it anything you like, such as “Words to Live By,” “Chicken Soup for ___’s Soul,” or, “A Hundred Things We Love about ______.” The point is that you’re collecting and delivering messages of encouragement and affirmation for your son or daughter that will strengthen his or her self-worth, identity, and sense of significance and calling. You’ll need to consider the people who have had the greatest impact on the life of your teen. They can be family members (parents are a must), friends, teachers, mentors, faith leaders, or others who offer a blessing in the form of a letter. As you recruit these VIPs, suggest they share special qualities, memories, inspirational thoughts, pictures, and the like. The purpose is to collect a wide array of well wishes that honor your teen. Then, at an appropriate time, give them an envelope containing these private letters. Some schools in our area arrange for this at a junior or senior class retreat. It is incredibly powerful. And, it offers you, the parent, an opportunity to say the things you wish you had said or said more. It’s especially meaningful for the parents who are less expressive (often fathers). Be forewarned, it can be an incredibly emotional experience for the parent. (Having done two myself, I can personally attest to that!) But, it’s a gift we not only give to our children, but also to ourselves. This keepsake is a profound blessing to your children. You don’t have to wait until launch time, but it’s a great parting gift that honors your teen at this critical time of life.” (pp. 183-184).

After the teen moves away to college or to the military or enters the workforce the parent then needs to move from the driver seat to the passenger seat. Some of this book deals with helping the parent prepare for the next stage of parenthood—coaching and encouraging. It has good advice and a few things I may consider trying myself, such as the blessing packet and taking the on-line DISC assessment with my teenage daughter.

“Frank A. Clark says, ‘The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.’” (p. 155). The authors believe the first three months after a young adult leaves the home is vitally important. (p. 185). You can find out more about Dennis Trittin at his website at Trittin also wrote What I Wish I Knew at 18.

I received a free copy of this book from Icon Media Group. No one paid me for this book review. My review originally appeared in on August 6, 2014. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”