Talk Now and Later: How to Lead Kids Through Life’s Tough Topics; A Book Review

While Casey was pregnant with Sam, I lamented with a pastor at church about wanting to read parenting books by them. Especially Pastor Rod. 

I had watched their kids grow up, and some still are, and they’re good kids. There must be a secret…

Pastor Randy, who works with Arkansas’ Better Dads program, said his kids aren’t grown yet. Even then, he feels unqualified to even be a part of the program. 

One pastor did write a book, drawing from his own parenting journey and as a pastor in kids and student ministry. When we dedicated Sam, it was one of the books gifted to us. 

That book was:

Talk Now and Later: How to Lead Kids Through Life’s Tough Topics

by Brian Dollar

Don’t wait until something big happens to talk to your kids— start now!

In Talk Now and Later, author Brian Dollar presents 10 common topics your child deals with— or will soon— and detailed advice on how to approach and discuss the issues with them. Learn to have these conversations early, have them often, and have them wisely so that when the difficult topics come up, the lines of communication will already be open.

Provides conversation starters on the following issues:

– Death and tragedy

– Sex

– Self-image

– Making wise choices

– Divorce

– Friendships

– Money

– Bullying

– Restoring broken relationships

– Sex

Get ready to talk to your children about the big issues in life— now and later.”

I don’t have good examples of this in my childhood. A lot of these talks never occurred, and I did what I always did. Read about it in a book or learned from experiencing it and/or not wanting to follow the same examples. 

In the chapter on God, Brian writes about serving with your kids. Why? As he says on pg 68, “A heart for God is more often caught, than taught. Allow your kids to see the heart of Jesus in you as you serve together.”

This leads to modeling Godly behavior for your kids. I’ve never been a fan of “Do what I say, not as I do.” 

I remember what happened far easier than what was said. I picked up my habits and quirks from watching dad. Some of them are good, and some of them are bad, right down to entertainment choices. 

A big one, and an easy way to turn a kid from God, is to not let them ask questions. Brian writes, and I agree, let them ask questions. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know,” and look it up together.

There is a chapter dedicated to sex. I never had this talk with my parents. I learned from an encyclopedia and movies. 

How much do you talk about it? Brian writes that as your kids mature, increase the amount of information you give. 

“Ages one to nine: Protect their innocence. Answer their questions, but don’t give them ideas.

Ages ten to eleven: Have “the talk” with your child.

Ages twelve and up: Listen more and talk less. Keep communication lines open.”

Then he dedicates pages to how. This is great because I’m not looking forward to this, but I have an idea of how.

There are many great chapters in the book, but I’ll end with quotes from the chapter on self-image. An essential chapter due to all the messages coming through the TV and internet to our kids telling them they should look or act this way. 

Brian says to be intentional with your words on page 148.

“The last thing they need is for the people who love them unconditionally–their parents–to speak negative words to them.

Be careful with your words. Kids are sensitive and take your careless phrases to be the truth. Be honest, positive, and consistent.”

On page 149, he punches me in a weak spot. I’m a much better critic than an affirmer. 

“We must do more than restrain our negative messages. We need to make positive messages a normal part of our daily communication. Since Ashton and Jordan were little children, I’ve made a point to tell each of them three things each day. I grab them individually, hold them close, look them in the eye, and say, “I love you. I’m proud of you. I’m glad you’re my daughter (or son).”

“Teenagers need this powerful, loving message because they’re charting out a new identity and facing new challenges every day.”

I remember the harsh words of my stepfather easier than I remember the good ones. In fact, I only remember two or three times in all the years my mom was with him. 

The book is 324 pages long, so I barely scratched the surface. It’s highly applicable and should be read every year. 

5 stars for Pastor Brian’s book. I would’ve bought it anyway.

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