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Mother and Daughter's Advice Is Set to Rhythm

Book Aims to Guide Teens Around Pitfalls

By Sara Gebhardt
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 16, 2004; Page PG26

Writing was always in the back of Judy Jackson's mind.

Four years ago, the Clinton resident left her home-based job as a medical transcriptionist to become a staff assistant in the federal government because she thought it would give her an opportunity to write on the job. When it didn't, she took matters into her own hands.

"It's a Rap!" has poems by Clinton resident Judy Jackson and short essays by her daughter Amanda. (Courtesy Of Judy Jackson)

Last year, she began collaborating with her 15-year-old daughter, Amanda, on a book for teenagers. Jackson self-published "It's a Rap! Rhythm and Poetry for Teens & Young Adults" in March under the name For His Glory Publications.

The mother and daughter will discuss their book -- which contains a series of short segments of original poetry, biblical passages and analysis -- at the Potomac Adventist Book and Health Food Store in Silver Spring on Sunday. Both Jacksons hope "It's a Rap!" will help young people who are struggling as they come of age.

Judy Jackson said she started thinking about the problems teenagers face when her son was preparing to leave for college last year. "I began to wonder if I had taught [my children] everything they needed to know to make them productive," Jackson said. "Then I decided to give my children as well as all other youth the tools they need to reach victory. I began to write down the issues that confront teens. . . . You don't have to look too far around you to see these things happening."

For the book, Jackson, 43, wrote poems about subjects such as drug addiction, premarital sex, the importance of studying, and choosing friends. Amanda Jackson, a high school sophomore, advised her mother about the best way to reach her target audience. After each poem, Amanda gives her opinion in a short section called "Mandi's Minute." Following her words is a quote from the Bible and a series of questions intended to spark further discussion.

One of Judy Jackson's poems, "Please Forgive Us," apologizes on behalf of parents who have treated their children harshly. Amanda Jackson said she appreciates the sentiment and thinks children should, in turn, forgive their parents.

"Of course, my mom knows a little bit more about things going on because she's been through it," Amanda Jackson said. "But I'm living it now and seeing people on drugs, seeing the boyfriend-girlfriend things. It wasn't necessarily that [my mom] needed my help, but God put us together, and we're a team, and it worked out good."

Both devout Christians, the Jacksons have similar opinions about the subjects covered in the book. Most of its 16 sections warn teens about sinning and encourage them to think twice before giving in to temptation. "Not everybody is going to listen to our advice, but I just wanted at least to have a tool out there that they can relate to," Judy Jackson said.

Thanks to her mother, Amanda Jackson has avoided many of the pitfalls that have tripped up her classmates. She thinks that her mother's guidance will have a positive impact on others. "This is a way for letting us know without smacking us over the head with a Bible, trying to shove Scriptures in our head. I think this is an easier way," Amanda Jackson said.

"It's good for when people are feeling down and they need encouragement and maybe their mom isn't around to say the right things they need to hear."

Judy and Amanda Jackson will discuss their book from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Potomac Adventist Book and Health Food Store, 12004 Cherry Hill Rd., Silver Spring. Free. 301-572-0700.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company