Sunday, October 10, 2010

Youth Resource: "Frog or Prince? The smart girl's guide to boyfriends"

I had the amazing privilege of getting to know Kaycee Jane over twitter.  As we started to interact I became interested in her book.  The title, “Frog or Prince? The smart girl’s guide to boyfriends” caught my eye.  As a youth worker I constantly talk with young people about relationships.  I have come to this conclusion in my experience. 

Girls are crazy and boys are stupid.

Now people that try to defend my statement usually end up agreeing, usually through laughter.  I did feel awkward reading a book about trying to find a boyfriend, but to make myself a better a youth worker I think it was worth it.

This book is written with a continuing string of short stories that capture the heart of teenage relationship drama.  The author then interacts with the stories in helping her audience draw conclusions about possible alternative scenarios.    It is my opinion that we can’t change people’s minds for them.  However, if we can help them stop for a moment to draw a breath and think, that may be enough to help them make a less heartbreaking decision. 

I have seen many young people enter into relationships that were based on all the wrong reasons, but when I tried to interject my opinion I was blown off as being to protective, old fashioned or just plain wrong.  I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong, in fact most of the time I hope I am.  I hope that the warning flags flying around in my mind are off based.  Everyone sees the best in others when they are falling in love and they don’t really care to be told about the shortcomings of their boyfriends or girlfriends.  This book will help young teenage girls to get to know themselves a bit better so that they will know for themselves if a guy will be a frog or a prince to them.

There are a lot of checklists and forms in the book that can seem a little overwhelming, but if used as a guide could be very beneficial in setting up a healthy relationship.  Kaycee Jane leads girls to go beyond good self talk and really start to stare honestly at their own strengths and shortcomings.  Understanding oneself is really the best place to start in the relationship processes.  The better youth know themselves the better they will know what they need and desire from a relationship and why.    I loved how Jane outlined needs as those that can be met by oneself, those that are met by others and those that you meet for others.  

As youth workers we constantly look at needs holistically: physically, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual.  Jane takes these same principals to girls themselves and truly tried to help them outline the needs they have in every aspect of life.  Looking at a potential relationship is then sort of like a shopping experience in which you should be looking for which person would help with the best fulfillment of needs. 

However the book does not merely look to relationships as a process of need fulfillment but moves beyond needs into the realm of convictions.  What is it that young people should be thinking about when they are evaluating a relationship? What tools can they use to judge if it is the relationship is going well other than emotions?  Jane outlines the elements that teen girls should believe if it is to be a relationship that will work:  Without giving away the entire book. The idea here is to question why young people are compelled to meet someone else’s needs, their own identity within the relationship, and the identity of the young people outside the relationship.

The book is bold in its approach to young people.  For instance jane writes that, “there’s a difference between having feelings of love and truly loving your boyfriend.” (106).  She also lists some amazing self reflection questions that every young person in a relationship should be asking themselves.

So if you are a young person that wants the best relationship possible or if you are a youth worker that would like some tools to help walk young people through relationship woes, pick up this book. 
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