At the time I wrote Relief, I was executive director of a
counseling clinic. We were seeing 220 client-families each week for a variety of
individual, marriage, family, and youth problems. One hundred client-families were in
private counseling or therapy. One hundred twenty were in group therapy.
Our staff of 10 counselors and therapists was made up of two
PhD's, six master's-level counselors, and two paraprofessionals. In addition, we
had a visiting psychiatrist who came one day each week to see patients and consult with my
staff about our more complex cases.
In this setting, I became increasingly concerned that we needed
to be more effective in recovering adolescents from the wrong crowd and self-destructive
behaviors, and we needed to be more effective in restoring parent-teen relationships. Kids
needed intervention, and parents needed guidance and support.
TOUGHLOVE® and its tough love concept were sweeping through
America at the time. I attended training and personally started a TOUGHLOVE® support group
within my agency. But after visiting other groups, I discovered that what was said or recommended
in TOUGHLOVE® groups by participants was sometimes out of harmony with traditional Christian
values. It was then that I felt inspired of God to develop support groups that are specifically
based on traditional values. I began to write the book that would serve as the manual for those groups.
(Note: TOUGHLOVE® and Parenting Within Reason do not have an adversarial relationship. We both
understand that TOUGHLOVE® is more general in its appeal, and Parenting Within Reason is
more specific in its appeal.)
I wanted to come up with a name for our new support groups that
would keep balance in front of the groups at all times. The name I chose was Parenting
Within Reason. The groups that grow out of my book will be for parents who want to respond
reasonably to their children--not being too permissive and not being too strict. I
changed the name of my local group to the PWR Support Group for Parents.
I wrote a portion of the book each week and taught it to the
parents in my group. I made notes during each meeting and improved that portion of the
book after the meeting.
Fifty-two weeks later, I compiled the first manual, and made
enough copies for the participants in our support group.
I wanted to see how effective the book was when taught by
parents. Volunteers from our group taught each week while I observed them, videotaped
them, and made refinements to the book. The next time through the book, we played the
videos. That was great fun!
After that informative experience, I carefully revised the book
and printed thirty copies. Dow Chemical Company sponsored the printing of those copies.
I then advertised in the newspaper that I would be teaching
parenting classes based on the new book. Thirty parents attended. I checked out the books
to the parents and taught the first lesson.
The parents devoured the books--the help was flowing, and
they couldn't stop reading. At the second session, four parents came up to me at
different times during the evening and said that since they had read the book, they had
stopped screaming at their kids. I was so-o-o fulfilled by that. The book was helping them
achieve balance and parent more effectively!
Completing that series of classes, I made the needed adjustments,
reprinted the book, and submitted it to Thomas Nelson Publishers. An editor rejected it
and suggested that I'd do better writing magazine articles. No rejection letter can
be pleasant, but that one felt insulting.
I knew a regional book representative with Thomas Nelson
Publishers named Ken Stephens. (Ken is presently the publisher for Broadman-Holman Books.)
Ken's region included the bookstore in our city. I showed him my manuscript when we
were having lunch together one day. He asked me if I minded if he read the book. Of
course, I was pleased for him to read it.
He took it to his home in San Antonio and showed it to his wife.
Nancy began reading it and followed him around reading portions to him. Ken called me and
asked if he could submit it to a publisher with a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Victor Oliver, who has Oliver-Nelson Books, was open to publishing unique projects.
Within two or three weeks Victor Oliver phoned me at the office. He asked, "Are you
"Yes," I responded.
"I have your manuscript here," he said. "What is your Christian
I told him.
He replied, "I'm publishing your book. You'll receive a contract in the
mail in a few days."
He was ready to get off the phone, but the conversation was moving too fast for me. I
requested more information.
He, often being a man of a few words, simply repeated, "I'm publishing your
book. You'll receive a contract in a few days."
He was gone.
That was an interesting turn of events. Thomas Nelson Publishers
was publishing my book after all via one of its divisions. I was pleased. Once the book
was printed, publicity and author tours were arranged by the parent company.
Victor Oliver's editor edited the book and returned the
manuscript to me. Many changes had been made. I went to an office supply store and bought
two boxes of large metallic stars. I put gold stars next to the items that had to be
changed back to the way I had written them, and I put silver stars beside the items that
were negotiable. This process resulted in more refinements for the book.
Type was set, and the galleys were sent to me. I read the entire
book aloud to my mother. (Written material often reads differently when read aloud.) I
approved the galleys by signing the front page, as instructed. My work was finally
Victor Oliver was traveling through Houston, and he called me for
a meeting. We met in a restaurant. He said, "You not only tell parents what to do,
you tell them how to think! That will be the subtitle: What to do and how to think when
you are having trouble with your kids." Thus, the original subtitle was born.
Oliver-Nelson Books, Thomas Nelson Publishers, took the book
through eleven printings. Then they wanted to change the title and reissue it. Company
officials had observed that parents were having to be willing to break out of denial and
admit that they were hurting and that their child was seriously misbehaving to purchase a
book titled Relief for Hurting Parents. I courteously objected because the book was
already well known, already listed in several bibliographies, and I felt it would be too
Meanwhile, book sales fell below a number that was programmed
into Nelson's computer for one month, and the computer automatically listed it as OP,
out of print. The OP designation was sent to computers all over the world. The book was
still in print, of course, but people were being told by bookstores that it was out of
print. That's what came up on their computers, and that's all the information
they had to relay to customers.
Very unfortunately, I had written articles for three magazines
that were published at this time, and those who read the articles and wanted the book
couldn't find it.
That was in 1992, and we continue to battle this
problem. When people call us and tell us that they were told the book is out of print, we
get the name of the bookstore that gave them that information. We call the bookstore and
find out what computer network their computer is in. We then call the source of the
information and correct it. I'm writing about this here because some of you will have
had the out-of-print experience, and my explanation will inform you about why you suffered
One book distributor, Baker and Taylor, refused to make the
change in their computer. They said they wouldn't make the change unless I signed a
contract with them, paying them to distribute the book. Their fees were above what I could
reach, and I declined. I asked them to at least change the designation from OP to NOT, not
our title. That means that they don't handle the title, but it is still in print.
They refused. Only a contract would win their cooperation. We assume, therefore, that
computers accessing Baker and Taylor's system continue to receive false information.
(FYI: Allon Publishing's distributor is Spring Arbor, a division of Ingram.)
Thomas Nelson Publishing said they wouldn't print the book
again under the same title. I requested that they return the rights to Relief to me. They
complied. I organized Allon Publishing Company to publish it. The book has now been printed numerous
times by Allon Publishing.