Monday, March 03, 2014

An Interview with Alex Chediak about "Preparing Your Teens for College"

It's a privilege to have Alex Chediak visit the blog today and answer some questions about his excellent new book Preparing Your Teens for College which just came out (read my brief review and enter the contest to win a free copy for yourself).

Matt: Who should read this book and why? Obviously, it's written specifically for parents. What kind of parents did you have in mind? What if we don't think our teens will attend college? Should we still read it? Should our teens read it, too? What makes it different from other books out there about preparing for college?

Alex: I wrote this book for all kinds of parents—those whose children have near-perfect SAT (or ACT) scores and those who don’t know the SAT or ACT from ABC, NBC, and CBS. The truth is that all our teens face tremendous challenges when it comes to entering adulthood. Aside from the moral and spiritual challenges (which I also discuss), the link between higher education and professional success has never been stronger, and college has never been more expensive, yet too many of our children are starting but never finishing. About 45 percent of those who enter a four-year college will not graduate in six years. And about 70 percent of those who start out at a two-year college don’t complete a degree in three years.

Preparing Your Teens for College is about getting teens ready to leave the home and enter the adult world with the faith, character and maturity to be successful in whatever they do. It’s about training them not just for college, but for the totality of their lives. My aim was to cover the gamut of issues that parents need to consider with respect to their teens: Character, faith, relationships, finances, academics, and the college decision itself.

In addition to parents, I believe that youth pastors, senior pastors, guidance counselors, and anyone else involved in preparing teens or equipping parents will also find value in this book.

Matt: The 11 chapters in Preparing Your Teens for College are called "conversations." Why is that? What are some of the key conversations parents need to be having with our teens?

Alex: Teens need, and often long for, meaningful interactions with the adults in their world: their teachers, their pastors, yes, but most of all, their parents. So the idea is that each chapter represents a “conversation theme” (not a single conversation, but an ongoing dialog) that parents should be seeking to have with their teens. The Table of Contents lists the 11 themes. The introduction and first chapter are available as a free PDF download.

Matt: In conversation 8, you say, "When we think of what we want for our kids in life, many things probably come to mind. Health, happiness, a good marriage, a well-paying job, children of their own. But have you ever hoped that your teens would be useful?" What do you mean by "useful" there, Alex, why is it important, and how to do we instill a vision for it in our children?

Alex: Usefulness means having something to offer others that truly serves them. Useful people make a difference in the world. Useful Christians serve others for God’s glory in the strength that He supplies (Col. 3:23, 1 Peter 4:11). They seek to love their neighbors as themselves by doing their jobs well, as if Jesus himself was their customer and boss. Usefulness requires competence and competence requires training. Therefore, teens should be diligent in their schoolwork, not only to love God with their minds, but to prepare themselves to more fruitfully honor God throughout their lives.

Matt: There is so much good advice in Preparing Your Teen for College. Thank you! But I feel a bit daunted by all that we need to be doing. What encouragements can you offer for us as we enter this next major stage of life?

Alex: The evidence is clear that a mom and dad’s involvement in a teen’s life influences them in meaningful ways. You have the potential to make an overwhelmingly positive difference in the lives of your teens. Even when they don’t seem to care, they are watching what you do and listening to what you say. And even in your stumbling you have the opportunity to model repentance, humility, and the fact that we relate to our Father on the basis of grace, not our imperfect works (which will help your teens do likewise). Actively love your teens, taking an interest in their lives, for their sake, and demonstrating that you have their long-term good in mind. That will earn you the moral authority to speak into their lives at the deepest level.

I wrote Preparing Your Teens for College to give you the courage and the tools to have crucial conversations with your teens about the issues that will shape the trajectory of their lives. I pray that God will use it to that end. Even if your teens are halfway out the door, it’s not too late to make an impact.

Matt: Thanks, Alex, for your time in this interview, but even more for writing this book. I pray that it blesses thousands of teens and their families.