Review by Jim MacMillan
What is the subject?
Adult birds fledge their young until their feathers are mature enough to allow them to leave the nest and fly.
The archer fledges an arrow by adding feathers so it can fly.
In her book Fledge, Brenda L. Yoder relates personal anecdotes and gives practical tips for parents regarding the dynamics and challenges of raising children to leave the nest well when they are young adults so they can become the people God intends them to be.
Her goal is to help the reader “launch your kids without losing your mind.”
Who is the author?
Brenda L. Yoder is a speaker, Bible teacher, life coach, mental health counsellor and former high school teacher. The author of many books is married with three sons and one daughter, ranging in age (at time of writing) high school to late 20s. Brenda and her family live in Indiana.
Why this book?
My wife and I have two teenaged daughters, one about to enter university and the other about to enter high school this fall. They are growing up and changing before our eyes, so this book appealed to me as a father who is looking to evolve my relationship with both of them as they move into young adulthood.
Comment on the book’s theological perspective in light of the MB Confession of Faith
The author repeatedly comments that we are to turn to Jesus as our ultimate help when we are faced with the daily struggles of parenting teens and young adults. Each chapter starts with a Bible passage, and helpful biblical principles are evident throughout (e.g. Proverbs 22:6 – “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it”).
Comment on the book’s key insight
As parents we need to practice “relationship” parenting instead of “performance” parenting.
As our children grow up it is easy to focus solely on the performance mentality in school, activities, and sports where success, rewards, and praise can lead to children developing works-based identities.
It is more important for us to have a relationship with our children, loving them unconditionally regardless of whether they succeed or fail, in the same way that we are to have a relationship with Christ, who loves us unconditionally, despite our weaknesses.
Comment on the book’s weakness
At times, Fledge reads like a very long blog on the author’s personal reflections and family. I had hoped to find commentary and references to other information. While there are chapters with specific points, it can feel unstructured and somewhat repetitive in places.
Other relevant information
At the end of each chapter in a “Building Up and Letting Go” page there is a prayer and questions that challenge the reader to reflect on and apply tips to their lives. As a result the book could be used for a parenting small group study or more in depth personal application.
Who should read it?
Overall, the book provides many tips to equip parents with young adult children. Any parent who reads it should be able to find something of value.
Fledge is written from a mother’s perspective, so there are many parts specifically aimed at mothers who are raising teens and/or have young adults who have recently left the nest. That said, it can also give fathers some ideas and a good perspective on what their wives may be experiencing at this time of life.
Re what it feels like at this stage: “Your life feels as if it’s slipping through your hands while you’re simultaneously trying to freeze time just a little longer”.
Re “relationship” parenting over “performance” parenting: “When your adult child separates from you and develops her own thoughts, values, and identity, your relationship is what remains. If that relationship is based on performance, she will continue to strive to please you in order to receive your affirmation, value and love.”
[Jim MacMillan lives in Kitchener, Ont., and is married with two teenage daughters. Jim is a member of WMB Church in Waterloo, Ont.