Review: Great Waters Press – No Longer Little

So Raine is at that age. She insists that she's a teen because she's one-teen. And of course, with the 'teen' word (even if it's pre-teen) comes the new world that we have to navigate as mother and daughter, a world filled with shifting moods, changing bodies, and evolving relationships. To be honest, I'm not sure if I'm dreading this stage, or excited about it.

Her top used to be her dress. When did she shoot up so fast?

I'm happy to hear about this stage from parents who have been in the trenches, which is why I enjoyed reading the book No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope from Great Waters Press. Written by Hal and Melanie Young, this book gives a lot of encouragement and practical tips on how to thrive during this possibly tumultuous period. They focus on maintaining a healthy relationship with your preteen, as well as leading them towards a strong relationship with God. This period is crucial because studies that they quoted show that broken relationships, with both parents and God, start not in the mid or late teen years, but with doubts and issues in kids ages 11 to 12.

No Longer Little by Hal and Melanie Young
I feel so unprepared for this period. But one of the simplest, most useful piece of advice I got from the book is possibly the hardest to implement: Do not freak out"But if you hope to have your children confide their worries and problems to you, that means you can't overreact. They need to feel that they have permission to ask questions and confidence their parents won't faint, have a stroke, or put them on house arrest until they turn thirty." That last reaction is so me.

Instead of freaking out, I should calmly say, "What makes you say that?" or "That's a good question. Let's find out." Then of course the crucial part--actually listening. I suck at that. But the girls have to know that I do want to talk about the stuff that worries them, or puzzles them. Because the scary thing is, if they don't get the answers from me or The Hubby, they're going to get them somewhere else.

Do not freak out. This applies to anything from talking about bras and crushes to dealing with bullies and sibling conflict and freak-out-inducing issues like pornography or sex. Not freaking out is something I really need to work on.

At the moment, the topics that freak me out the most--or at least make me squirm and cringe--have to do with sexuality (discussed in Chapter 5 The Awakening: Sexuality and Virtue). I know that I need to get over it though (and not freak out) because puberty is starting earlier, and porn is so much more accessible now, and the world is becoming so blase about these things, and The Hubby and I need to be the ones who shape their view on sex, and not the warped world's perspective.

I appreciate the Youngs' reminder that sex is a gift from God, designed to be used only in the framework of love, commitment, and marriage. I know that this is so old-fashioned by the world standards, which is why we need to intentionally work on a relationship of openness and trust, so the girls will know that we will calmly and factually answer their questions on sex (or die trying).

The other chapter that resounded with me was Chapter 7 Media, Gaming, and Discernment. The Youngs tackled the importance of balance, of preparing our kids for life in the 21st century, while keeping boundaries intact as they learn discernment. This is also something I struggle with, because I know how important digital skills are, but I also don't want to raise mouse potatoes (the computer equivalent of a couch potato) who are so addicted to their gadgets and unable to deal with real world relations.

Another important point that struck me was teaching our kids to not only consider the skill of the artist or creator who created the movie, book, song, painting, or sculpture, but also the underlying message. "The paint, musical notes, and computer-generated effects are simply the way ideas are communicated...We need to ask ourselves, and teach our kids to ask [emphasis mine], 'What are they telling me? Is it true? Is it good?'...No one will try to lead them astray or defraud them with an  unattractive presentation...Teach them to recognize good art, but always seek out good art which is communicating a good message--and reject it if it's not!"

Also, one key point that The Hubby and I agree on (and have been trying to impart to our respective younger siblings, particularly mine), is the importance of using social media with discretion and wisdom (actually, The Hubby monitors me on social media, and he's been known to ask me to take down posts that are not aligned with our principles, are too revealing, or are not good). I like how the Youngs put it: kids need to learn to use the internet like a Christian before they are on their own. They need supervision and guidance when on the internet, so that they can navigate the virtual world wisely when they're older.

The chapter on conflict at home (Chapter 9 Conflict at Home: Family Relationships) is also one that has struck a nerve. My knee-jerk reaction to anything I am not expecting is to get exasperated and immediately shoot my mouth off. This was painfully (for me) and tearfully (for the girls; both of them!) brought to my attention last week. We were doing our family devotionals about the power of the tongue, and we were discussing words that hurt and words that heal. I asked if they can remember any words said to them that hurt and they suddenly burst into tears. In between sobs, Raine told me (Breeze refused to speak about it at all as she wiped her tears) that she hates doing chores or anything that I ask them to do because I usually get mad when she doesn't do it right, and that I "just keep talking and talking and talking!"

I am reminded yet again that I need to control my emotions and be the adult in the relationship. Also, I need to take my girls' emotions seriously. I have never been in need of so much grace!

Our prayer for the girls: May the Lord bless and keep them, may He shine His face upon them, may He be gracious to them and give them peace.


There is so much more to glean from No Longer Little. Some of the chapters, I haven't been able to process properly. I think this is a book that I will continue to refer to in the years to come (because Breeze, in three years).

Hal and Melanie Young also wrote another book on sexuality, directed at young men. Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality is a useful book. For reviews about this book, or for other families' experiences with No Longer Little, click below.

Love, Honor, and Virtue AND No Longer Little {Great Waters Press Reviews}
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