Extraordinary Lessons from My Ordinary Teens
By Tina Brennan
Our job as adults is to recognize the opportunities for growth, realization, and sacred insight—all gifts of grace—that fill our teens' eventful lives. In Sacred Gifts, Tina Brennan unwraps 10 gifts she received from her seven children when they were teenagers: forgiveness, perseverance, listening, advocacy, giving, sacrifice, loneliness, decision, injustice, and surrogacy.
Brennan explains how we are called to teach our young people—and to witness to and learn from them. Our teens, those "fragile creators of chaos," bring gifts of wisdom to the family and to the world, and the results of those gifts can be awesome and enriching.
Sacred Gifts invites you to reflect on how the gifts teens give you every day might become part of your own life.
Copyright: Jan. 1, 2003
Size: 5.5 x 8.5
Length: 88 pages
Inland Register, April 29, 2004
Tina Brennan is a great storyteller. Her 10 stories of her children, with names changed for publication, are memorable and very helpful for anyone such as a parent or teacher who has contact with teens. In fact, I wonder if her stories could be used with teens in a class as a basis of discussion on key issues of family and school life.
One story centers on Sean, who enters a pentathlon at age 14 with strong hopes of going on to nationals in Nebraska. Early in the first event of hurdles, he falls and all hopes seemed dashed. Mother weeps within as she watches the dramatic accident and hopes they can just go home quietly. But Sean decides to continue on in all five events, even though he has no chance to win. He is so energized, his point score brings him in second. The story's twist both surprises and teaches us about competition and life.
One of my favorite stories centers on Sean again, at age 13, who is challenging his folks at an evening meal over a decision preventing an older brother, Mike, from continuing in sports because he had gotten a C in math. This story, "The Gift of Advocacy," really tugs at your heartstrings. It is powerful to see a younger brother do the maximum to enable his older brother to continue to play sports. The one C leading to "no sports" seems totally unfair to Sean. Yet family rules have been agreed upon. How this all works out when Mike gets his math grade up to a B- and the question becomes, can he now go back to sports? is a very interesting journey.
Mrs. Brennan has a way with words. She allows you to feel with parents and be edified by very human teens.
Brennan's stories seem very real. She somehow translates in a very compassionate way the conflict with the coach, the "meltdown" of a son at school, or the very wonderful gifts of a son's homemade cake or a daughter's gift of taking care of the smaller children so Mom can have a day joyfully reading lots of library books.
Each chapter often connects with stories from the Bible and a short piece from contemporary writers like Fathers Richard Rohr or Henri Nouwen. Brennan has a section at the end of each chapter, "Opening the Gift," with thoughtful questions that could be used for prayer or discussion.
In Sacred Gifts, Tina Brennan has given us all a great gift. She helps us see the incredible gift our teenagers are and what a wonderful challenge it is to be a parent.
Review by Father Tom Caswell