07 March 2014

Life Coach

by Frank Turk

As many of you know, I am on hiatus, but being like that does not absolve one of his responsibilities to other people.  So for example, if a friend or an acquaintance to whom you own some small debt publishes a book while you are taking a long break from your world-famous blog, it seems right to come out of hiatus for a few minutes and give your friend a hand.  It wouldn't be a sin to do otherwise, but it would be a little thick.

Some of you may know Alex from his previous book, Thriving at College. Born and raised in Chicago, IL, he earned a B.S. Degree at Alfred University in Ceramic Engineering and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Material Science & Engineering from U.C. Berkeley. He worked as an engineer for IBM for three years (1996-1999). From 2005-2007 he was an apprentice at The Bethlehem Institute (now Bethlehem College and Seminary), a masters-level theological training program overseen by Pastors John Piper and Tom Steller. During those years, Alex got his start in Christian higher education at Northwestern College. As of 2007, he’s been a professor of engineering and physics at California Baptist University.

Back in 2011, I met Alex and tried to do a podcasted interview with him, but due to operator error in my equipment use, that never happened.  I dutifully posted a review of his previous book, and promised to help him with his next project as thanks for the time he spent (or wasted, as it might seem) with me at the Little Rock Airport.

This week, Alex is releasing his follow-up book Preparing your Teen for College. To read a thorough review and recommendation of this book, have a look at Bob Hayton's write-up as I think he covers more than enough ground to encourage you to buy this book if you have a teen who you are preparing for college.

However, I do have a few items about this book which you might also enjoy:

1. I really have no idea how the publishing industry decides on titles for books.  Actually, I do, and I hate it.  What Alex has written is a book on teen parenting -- which takes a correctly-balanced view of academics in the whole picture of preparing a young person to launch into life -- and they have wrapped it in cover which does two things: tries to leverage the franchise created by Alex's first successful book, and misleads you to think this books is really about college.  It's the second part which you ought to ignore because this book really isn't about college so much as it is about focusing on the right critical few items in parenting kids through teen years in our culture so that they will become faithful, useful adults when they leave your home.  There's a better book inside the cover than the title will lead you to believe.

2. It is rare for me to endorse a book over 400 pages which is not a reference book.  I'm endorsing this book in spite of its length.  Personally, I don't have a lot of use for a book which is too long to remember unless it is also worth filling with post-it tabs for reference in the future.  This book, which covers a lot of ground, will be one you'll want to read and mark up before your kids turn 12, refer back to as they turn 14 and 16, and then review and send off with them when they turn 18 and need to know the story behind all the things you expected from them.  To call this a reference book doesn't do it good service, but you will use it for reference after you read it the first time.

3. Alex doesn't need my endorsement. He has the likes of R.C Sproul, Doug Wilson, and Gene Veith endorsing this book. But he gets it because he's the real deal as a professor, a father, and a christian guy.

I'm a fan of Alex.  He would be a good life coach for you as a parent.