“Where is the teenage handbook?!!”……That’s the text message I got early this morning from one of my best friends. Really not sure why she thought I might have it! I’ve got 3 teenagers…and an 11 year old who thinks he is a teen. So out of those 4 do I EVER look like I have this parenting thing figured out or even remotely under control? NO! What I have found is that with four children the odds are just higher that you are currently, or have recently been through, some sort of teen trauma…or drama may be a better description. My husband and I have always tried to take our parenting seriously. Not in a way that would make it regimented, but just trying to parent on purpose. We have taken parenting classes, made friends with people just a stage ahead of us, and surrounded ourselves with people who can relate to the same stages. We’ve done all of those things in order to equip ourselves for this parenting job. We taught our kids the “family rules”…No hitting, no kicking, no fighting, no biting, and obey mom and dad. Those rules were great when they were little, and any one of my children can still roll them off when prompted. But those rules don’t quite cut it when you move into the preteen and teen years. Hopefully by then kids have a grip on any physical outbursts and have passed the biting stage. Now it’s all about peer pressure, and mean girls, and life choices. I haven’t been able to make up any catchy phrases for handling ANY of this stuff! So I talk to those friends, listen to the school counselor, and when I’m feeling totally overwhelmed…I buy a book! And boy howdy do I have books!! Books on character, books on discipline, books on organizing your home, books on marriage,…you get the idea. I’ve always told my husband that buying a few books is much cheaper than counseling, but if he ever takes an inventory he might find out it’s a toss up. Picture me sitting in a room with stacks of books all around me, that’s pretty much how it is. And somehow I find comfort and maybe even a little guidance by reading snippets of chapters from various books. Reading about other people’s experiences and suggestions just somehow helps me focus on what matters, and not necessarily on the current crisis. I think there is some sort of physical comfort in the presence of these dusty books. Just knowing I have resources at my fingertips helps me take a calming breath and start over. I don’t really think the Kindle, or any other e-reader, will give me that same sense of protection. It’s just not big enough to take the place of all of this clutter. So maybe I should just tell my friend I don’t have a teen handbook, but if she would like to plant herself in the middle of the cluttered pile of books that I do have,she might find she’s able to re-focus..and ready to go back to her clutter free home!