Tag Archive | Teen

Raising Young People So You Can Rejoice!

“The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice; and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him”
(Proverbs 15:20).

Advice For Raising Young People:

1. Remember: The family atmosphere reflects the attitudes of you, the parents. The way the father and mother face life and treat each other determines how our children view their world and their relationship to others. If the parents are competitive and fight with one another the children will grow up to believe this is what is expected in the world in general.

2. Remember: Make certain all adult role models are living the values you wish your child to simulate. Make certain their peers are the type of friends with the values you wish your child to have.

3. Remember: Young people do not always behave the way we think they should and are not always predictable. They are so boisterous and they do not seem to want or need us anymore. But there is no other age, except the first year of their life when they need us more. Parents, stay involved with your adolescent! They need you!

These are very difficult years for them and for you, their parents. They are preparing to leave your nest which may be hard for you to accept. They need room to experiment with what they have learned.

4. Remember: Young people will constantly be trying their boundaries. It is important for you, the parent, to keep these boundaries in place–for they need them for security. You may have to pad the fences at times in order to give them a safe place to rebel–so that they do not scar themselves permanently for life.

5. Remember: Give them some rope-but not enough to hang themselves. Do not allow them to date too early or be by themselves with their girlfriends for long periods of time. If you do, do not be surprised if “nature” dominates “nurture.”

6. Remember: If you did not settle the problems of the willful nature when they were two years old, you will certainly face them here. I have heard Dr. Cline refer to
teenagers as, “Two-year-olds with hormones and wheels.”

7. Remember: do not be offended if they look up to another adult, other than you the parent, as a model and mentor. It is just part of leaving the nest.

8. Remember: Spiritually they are making up their minds for life–what they will do with all they have been taught. It is a time for cementing their own beliefs. Beliefs are so important, for without a strong belief system it is like a sailor without a compass. “Given your values and your beliefs your beliefs will always come to the fore.”

Your young person may have accepted God and been ‘filled with His Spirit’ during childhood or even adolescence, but they always seem to need to make a fresh commitment as they enter adulthood.

9. Remember: Young people take what has been taught them–the behaviors which allow them to function with others, the values they see modeled by the important people in their lives–and they now put them all together, with the help of the Holy Spirit, into a belief structure which will guide them through life.

10. Remember: Just like Apostle Paul; your young person is in a battle between his natural inherited nature and his spiritual nature. “I am carnal, sold unto sin, but sin that dwelleth in me…for I know that in me, (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing…l find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me” (Romans 7).

Help him/her understand this conflict is natural, but that with Jesus Christ by their side there is victory and peace.

If there are questions you would like to see discussed on this page, you may write Bro. Reynolds at the address below.

Pentecostal Seminars
6930 S.E. 262nd Gresham, Oregon 97080
503-663-4954

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Dealing With Troubled Youth

Dealing With Troubled Youth
By: Darrell W. Johns

Insight

Many young people experience stress and pressure that comes from growing up. Most of them struggle through normal youth problems and make the transition into adulthood. Today, we face a growing number of young people who lose their way in trying to cope with the stresses of our society.

Beneath the Symptoms (Depression)

Harmful adolescent behavior can usually be traced to an underlying emotion that seems to dominate the causes. That emotion or condition which lies beneath symptomatic behavior is depression.

Depression occurs when certain negative factors act on a person’s nervous system triggering sadness, hopelessness, and self-depreciating thinking and behavior. Depression has both causes and symptoms. First, we will look at some of the symptoms.

Reading the Signals (Symptoms)

Designed into the electronic system of most modern cars is a warning system. Lights will flash and alarms will sound to get our attention. The warning device is not the problem. It merely alerts us to the problem. Our human body works much the same way. An internal physiological problem will trigger a symptom. The warning signal or symptom is not the problem, only the result of one.

The following are symptoms to watch for in troubled teens. As you read this list, make a note if your child is exhibiting symptomatic behavior.

• Extreme Moodiness
• Changes in Eating and Sleeping Habits
• Social Isolation
• Sudden Change in Behavior
• Unruly Behavior
• Hyperactivity
• Excessive Self-Criticism
• School Problems
• Extreme Passivity
• Substance Abuse
• Sexual Acting Out
• Suicidal Talk or Behavior

Other symptoms may exist in a depressed teenager. When you see a constellation of symptoms, you are dealing with a troubled teen.

Possible Root Causes (Triggers of Depression)

Young people are typically idealistic. They dream of a perfect world, expect the perfect relationship, desire the perfect achievement. When life deals them less than best, they often become depressed, Here are seven possible root causes for teenage depression.

A Significant Loss

This includes the death of a parent, relative, good friend, or pet. The greatest fear for most teens is losing a parent. There is grief from the loss and a sense of rootlessness and hopelessness. For some teens there is also a feeling of guilt.

They regret the pain they inflicted on their parent while alive.

Separation from a Loved One

The divorce of parents may be worse than death in some ways. The wound is left open. For the child, there is a cycle of hope, disappointment, rejection, and despair. Some young people feel responsible for the divorce.

Trouble at Home

Being troubled at home is the most significant cause of concern. Many family disorders contribute to depression in teens. Parents who lack spiritual and moral values at home will trouble a teen. Colossians 3:21 says, “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” Trouble at home takes the zest of life out of young people.

One source of trouble at home is abuse, which comes in many forms including incest. It is never wise to conceal child abuse. Without confrontation and consequences an abuser will usually continue the cycle of abuse into the next generation.

Loss of Boundaries and Guidelines

Many teens lack an adult role model. With the increase of two-career families, family life and continuity are slipping. Young people need guidelines, guideposts, and a sense of discipline. Proper boundaries create security. The loss of boundaries causes depression.

A Broken Relationship

A serious cause of depression is a broken relationship. Fellowship and peace with God, ourselves, and others is essential to a fulfilled life. When a significant relationship is broken, depression can occur.

How to Help a Troubled Teen

Ministering to troubled teens is based on loving and caring for them. Here is some advice for parents.

A. Investigate Physiological Disorders

Physical problems are often the underlying cause of depression. A chemical imbalance needs treatment. Counseling and love alone will not suffice. Cases of severe depression are often caused by blood-sugar levels that are out of balance. Understanding puberty and its hormonal changes will assist you in dealing with teens who may be feeling the pains of adolescence.

B. Stay with the Principles

During adolescence, youth often experiment with boundaries and question values. A wise parent will not change principles in reaction to the questioning of youth. Your child needs to see the stability of your values as a foundation for your life. Be flexible in your opinions. Compromise on preferences, never on principles.

Turn to the Bible for answers. The Bible is relevant to the issues of raising children, offering advice to parents. It also teaches wisdom for young people who are dealing with the pains of growing up.

C. Create Involvement

Activity does not eliminate problems, but if young people are integrated into the life of a local church youth group they will have a system of support. The problems that cause depression for teens may not immediately disappear. For them to be involved in a cause greater than their own life will give them a reason to overcome. Keep young people tied closely to a loving church.

D. Build Them Up Spiritually

Prayer is a powerful tool for a parent. Your prayers can build a hedge of protection around the young person. Pray in faith, seeing that young person becoming victorious through the power of the Spirit.

E. Never Give Up

Even if your teen fails to respond, leave the door open for future help. Believe in him and express that confidence verbally as well as in action. At this point in time you are not going to see a finished product. The results of your efforts may take years.

Many times your commitment to young people will motivate them to make a commitment to God. Parenting is not a profession that comes with formal training. Your greatest advantage is a loving, patient relationship that never gives up.

THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED IN A TRACT BY THE UPCI, @1995, BY DARRELL W. JOHNS. THIS MATERIAL MAY BE USED FOR STUDY AND RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

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A Teenage Mother Requirements

A Teenage Mother Remembers
by Amy Bemboom

It was the summer of 1980 when I received the news that I was pregnant. I was 16 years old, a pregnant sophomore in high school, unmarried and very scared. My stomach was in knots. How could I tell my mother” How would I tell my boyfriend” Would they hate me? Would they still love me” What would my brothers and sisters think about me? When I finally found the courage to tell my boyfriend the news, he was petrified of becoming a father. He was a full-time college student whose education was being financed by his parents. He feared that if I had the baby, his parents would disown him and no longer help him with his college education. For him, the only logical solution, given our young ages and our both being students without steady jobs, would be an abortion. I could not fathom having an abortion. I felt it would be morally wrong. We argued our beliefs for days until I finally decided to tell my mother.

My father had died the year before and I was uncertain my mother could
handle heating that her teenage daughter was pregnant. When I told her
of my predicament, she said she had suspected it from the way I had been acting. I couldn’t believe she didn’t yet at me or cry or get hysterical. She was very accepting of the news. She felt the wisest decision was to get married and have the baby.

I told my boyfriend what my mother wanted, thinking he would never agree to marriage, however, much to my surprise, he did offer. But I told him I felt we had made one mistake and marriage would only be another one. How could we live? How would we finance a baby and his college education? How would I finish high school? Did we really know what love was at our age? Would our love last a lifetime, as it should in marriage?

During my third month of pregnancy, my boyfriend and I broke off our relationship. He said he had offered to marry me three times and three times I had refused. I’ll never forget how he compared it to baseball-three strikes and you’re out! When I tried to reconcile a few months later, it was out of the question for him, He said I had hurt him too deeply. I had ruined his relationship with his parents by carrying the baby, and I was forcing him to work long hours while going to college in order to finance his education. He basically said that I had destroyed his life and that he could never forgive me. For some reason, this all made sense. It never occurred to me how that all our problems were direct results of the two of us having sex before marriage.

I carried the baby alone. I didn’t want anyone to know how badly I hurt inside or how alone and afraid I felt. Finally on Feb. 7, 1981 1 gave birth to a baby boy.

Four years later I got pregnant again. There I was at 20-years-old in the same shoes I had been in at 16, only this time abortion didn’t seem out of the question. I knew first hand how difficult raising a child could be. My boyfriend refused to marry me and I really believed there was no way I could disappoint my mother again. I opted for an abortion. It was the only way I thought.

Hindsight is 20/20. Abortion was not the answer. I have paid for that decision with depression every autumn since that baby was sucked from my womb. Of all the wrong decisions I have made in my lifetime, this is the one that I regret the most Nobody told me abortion is not something that you do and forget about. It stays with you for the rest of your life.

One year later the same boyfriend who would not marry me, did, Once married I became pregnant a third time but had a miscarriage. In my mind I was convinced this was my punishment from God for trying to play “God” by deciding which of my babies would live and which would die I began to resent my husband deeply for not marrying me the year before. I blamed him for the abortion. I could no longer accept what I had done.

Five years later, we divorced. The saddest part of the divorce is that my 13-year old son, whom my ex-husband had adopted, decided to live with him and not me. The hurt and pain of my son’s decision was incredible- I sometimes have trouble accepting that everything I gave up-my vocational dreams, my personal goals, my pride-was somehow for nothing because in the end I don’t have my son living with me.

Premarital sex is not love. The feelings may seem like love, but they’re not. Hurt, pain, loneliness, shame, guilt-these are all the things that go along with sex before marriage. I gave myself for one moment when I believed I was loved by my boyfriend-one moment in a lifetime of moments.

I have learned that God has given us rules to live by not because, He wants us to be prudish or lead boring lives, but because he knows the consequences that go along with breaking His commandments. He knows how lonely and ashamed we can feel after making bad decisions. I don’t believe God wants that for us. He wants something better.

The teenage years are the years of learning many things, but nobody said it had to be a time to learn everything . I never took the time to really think about my choices. I could have chosen chastity. I never took the time to really think about the lifelong consequences of my choices. Looking back, at the tender age of 16, 1 wish that I had.

(From the Wisconsin District News. This article was originally published in the Jan/ Feb ’96 issue of Family, Digest. Amy Bemboom is from St. Cloud, Minn.)

THE ABOVE MATERIAL IS FOR STUDY AND RESEARCH ONLY. IT HAS BEEN COPYRIGHTED, BUT THE SOURCE IS UNKNOWN.

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How to Communicate Better With Your Teen- 13 Easy Tips

HOW TO COMMUNICATE BETTER WITH YOUR TEEN – 13 EASY TIPS

Read the signals. Be willing to spot signs that something is wrong. Don’t pry for information, but show that you’ve noticed. When things aren’t okay, be there to listen, not condemn.

Let your teen talk. Passing remarks and non-verbal signs can signal that your child wants to talk. Teens may want to talk when you least expect or feel like it, but don’t pass up such rare opportunities. Whatever you teen tells you, don’t reject him. Knowing a horrible truth is better than being told lies.

Show your love. Despite their facade, teens need to be shown they are loved. Tell him repeatedly. Write a surprise note. Make time to share his interests and important activities. Time is the greatest show of love and care.

Don’t nag. If you’re always finding something wrong, you’ll close down communication. Complain only about important issues. Ask what you will gain by pointing out a mistake. Most teen know when they’re goofed without your itemized list.

Emphasize the good. Praise a few specific talents or abilities. Thank
her for each kind act she does for you or others.

Demand the best, but not perfection. Make sure your teen knows it’s okay to fail as long as he tried his best. Focus on effort, not performance.

Be generous with hugs. Physical affection signals importance, and is especially good when times are tense between you.

Give your teen some space. They need privacy and time along. Don’t snoop to confirm your fears of the worst.

Notice your teen’s friends. Insist on being introduced. Show an interest in them. Have them over. Teens whose parents are actively involved with their children’s friends are less likely to choose bad pals. Let your teen say, “Sorry, my parents won’t let me” as an excuse not to give in to peer pressure.

Control your anger. Count to 10 before you shout or respond. Admit aloud your feelings may require time to cool. If you blow up over everything, your teen soon will tune you out. Be willing to apologize for losing your temper.

Be your teen’s best role model. Discipline in love and consistency. Don’t threaten her with unreasonable punishments. Explain your reasons for discipline, and remember to reverse punishments that are too severe.

Seek valuable allies. Form networks with teachers, coaches, or others your teen respects. Support your child’s relationships with parental-aged friends. Ask the allies to help strengthen rapport with your child.

Pray with your teen. Explain that you think it helps any relationship, and that you want to pray together every day. Don’t put your child on the spot to pray out loud right away. Make prayer a habit. It’s hard to stay angry at someone you pray with regularly.

From Who’s Listening? What Our Kids Are Dying to Tell Us, by Jerry Johnston, Zondervan.

Christian Information Network.

The above material is copyrighted and may not be reproduced in any form without permission of the author and is to be used for study and research purposes only.

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The Strong-Willed Adolescent

THE STRONG-WILLED ADOLESCENT
(Is there any other kind?)
by Dr. James Dobson

Alas, our children quickly arrive at the door of adolescence: that dynamic time of life which comes in with a pimple and goes out with a beard those flirtatious years when girls begin to powder and boys begin to puff. It’s an exciting phase of childhood, I suppose, but to be honest, I wouldn’t want to stumble through it again. I doubt that the reader would either. We adults remember all too clearly the fears and jeers and tears that represented our own tumultuous youth. Perhaps that is why parents begin to quake and tremble when their children approach the adolescent years. (By the way, have you heard of the new wristwatch created exclusively for the anxious parents of teenagers? After 11 p.m. it wrings its hands every fifteen minutes.)

It would be a great mistake to imply that I have immediate answers to every problem faced by the perplexed parents of adolescents. I recognize my own limitations and willingly admit that it is often easier to write about teenage turmoil than it is to cope with it in real life. Whenever I’m tempted to become self-important and authoritative on this or any other subject, I’m reminded of what the mother whale told her baby: “When you get to the top and start to ‘blow,’ that’s when you get harpooned!” With that admonition in mind, let me humbly offer two suggestions which may he helpful in coping with the strong-willed adolescent.

1. A teenager is often desperately in need of respect and dignity. Give him these gifts!

The period of early adolescence is typically a painful time of life, marked by rapid physical and emotional changes. This characteristic difficulty was expressed by a seventh-grade boy who had been asked to recite Patrick Henry’s historic speech at a Bicentennial program in 1976. But when the young man stood nervously before an audience of parents, he became confused and blurted out, “Give me puberty or give me death!” His statement is not as ridiculous as it sounds. Many teens sincerely believe they must choose between those dubious alternatives.

The 13th and 14th years commonly are the most difficult 24 months in life. It is during this time that self-doubt and feelings of inferiority reach an all-time high, amidst the greatest social pressures yet experienced. An adolescent’s worth as a human being hangs precariously on peer group acceptance, which is notoriously fickle. Thus, relatively minor evidences of rejection or ridicule are of major significance to those who already see themselves as fools and failures. It is difficult to over-estimate the impact of having no one to sit with on the school-sponsored bus trip, or of not being invited to an important event, or of being laughed at by the “in” group, or of waking up in the morning to find seven shiny new pimples on your bumpy forehead, or of being slapped by the girl you thought had liked you as much as you liked her. Some boys and girls consistently face this kind of social catastrophe throughout their teen years. They will never forget the experience.

The self-esteem of an early adolescent is also assaulted in the Western culture by his youthful status. All of the highly advertised adult privileges and vices are forbidden to him because he is “too young.” He can’t drive or marry or enlist or drink or smoke or work or leave home. And his sexual desires are denied gratification at a time when they scream for release. The only thing he is permitted to do, it seems, is stay in school and read his dreary textbooks. This is an overstatement, of course, but it is expressed from the viewpoint of the young man or woman who feels disenfranchised and insulted by society. Much of the anger of today’s youth is generated by their perception of this “injustice.”

Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner, Cornell University’s eminent authority on child development, has also identified the period of early adolescence as the most destructive years of life. He expressed these concerns in a taped interview with Susan Byrne, subsequently published in Psychology Today, May 1977.

In that article, Bronfenbrenner recalled being asked during a U.S. Senate hearing to indicate the most critical years in a child’s development. He knew that the senators expected him to emphasize the importance of preschool experience, reflecting the popular notion that all significant learning takes place during the first six years of life. However, Bronfenbrenner said he had never been able to validate that assumption. He agreed that the preschool years are vital, but so is every other phase of childhood. In fact, he told the Senate committee that the junior high years are probably the most critical to the development of a child’s mental health. It is during this period of self-doubt that the personality is often assaulted and damaged beyond repair. Consequently, said Bronfenbrenner, it is not unusual for healthy, happy children to enter junior high school, but then emerge two years later as broken, discouraged teenagers.

I couldn’t agree more emphatically with Bronfenbrenner’s opinion at this point. Junior high school students are typically brutal to one another, attacking and slashing a weak victim in much the same way a pack of northern wolves kill and devour a deformed caribou. Few events stir my righteous indignation more than seeing a vulnerable child-fresh from the hand of the Creator in the morning of his life-being taught to hate himself and despise his physical body and wish he had never been born. I am determined to give my assistance to those boys and girls who desperately need a friend during this period of intensive self-doubt.

Not only do I remember the emotional conflicts of my own early adolescence, but I have had ample opportunities since then to observe this troubled time of life in others. I was privileged to teach in public schools from 1960 to 1963, and two of those profitable years were spent at the junior high level. I taught science and math to 225 rambunctious troops each day, although I learned much more from them than they did from me. There on the firing line is where my concepts of discipline began to solidify. The workable solutions were validated and took their place in a system I know to be practical. But the lofty theories dreamed up by grandmotherly educators exploded like so much TNT when tested on the battlefield each day.

One of the most important lessons of those years related to the matter of low self-esteem, which we have been discussing. It became clear to me very early that I could impose all manner of discipline and strict behavioral requirements on my students, provided I treated each young person with genuine dignity and respect. I earned their friendship before and after school, during lunch and through classroom encounters. I was tough, especially when challenged, but never discourteous, mean or insulting. I defended the underdog and tenaciously tried to build each child’s confidence and self-respect. However, I never compromised my standards of deportment. Students entered my classroom without talking each day. They did not chew gum, or behave disrespectfully, or curse or stab one another with ball point pens. I was clearly the captain of the ship, and I directed it with military zeal.

The result of this combination of kindness and firm discipline stands as one of the most pleasant memories of my professional life. I loved my students and had every reason to believe that I was loved in return. I actually missed them on weekends (a fact my wife never quite understood). At the end of the final year when I was packing my books and saying goodbye, there were 25 or 30 teary-eyed kids who hung around my gloomy room for several hours and finally stood sobbing in the parking lot as I drove away. And yes, I shed a few tears of my own that day. (Please forgive this self-congratulatory paragraph. I haven’t bothered to tell you about my failures, which are far less interesting.)

One young lady to whom I said “good-bye” in the school parking lot in 1963 called me on the telephone during 1975. I hadn’t seen Julie for more than a decade, and she had become a grown woman in the ensuing years. I remembered her as a seventh-grader whose crisis of confidence was revealed in her sad brown eyes. She seemed embarrassed by her Latin heritage and the fact that she was slightly overweight. She had only one friend, who moved away the following year.

Julie and I talked amiably on the phone about old times at Cedarlane Junior High School, and then she asked me a pointed question: “Where do you go to church?”

I told her where we attended, and she replied, “I wonder if you’d mind my visiting there some Sunday morning?”

I said, “Julie, I’d be delighted.”

The next week, my wife and I met Julie in the vestibule of the sanctuary, and she sat with us during the service. Through a process of growth and guidance in subsequent months, this young woman became a vibrant Christian. She now participates in the choir, and many members of the congregation have commented on the radiant glow she seems to transmit when singing.

I stopped her as we were leaving church a few months later and said,
“Julie, I want to ask you a question. Will you tell me why you went to so much trouble to obtain my unlisted phone number and call me last fall. Why did you want to talk to me after all those years, and why did you ask what church I attended?”

Julie thought for a moment and then paid me the highest compliment anyone has ever sent my way. She said, “Because when I was a seventh grade student in junior high school, you were the only person in my life who acted like you respected and believed in me . . . and I wanted to know your God.”

If you can communicate that kind of dignity to your oppressed and harassed teenagers, then many of the characteristic discipline problems of adolescence can be circumvented. That is, after all, the best way to deal with people of any age.

Let’s look now at the second suggestion which can be, in effect, a means of implementing the first.

2. Verbalize conflicts and re-establish the boundaries.

There is often an irrationality associated with adolescence which can be terribly frustrating to parents. Let me offer an illustration which may explain the problem.

A student graduated from medical school in Los Angeles a few years ago and was required as part of his internship to spend a few weeks working in a psychiatric hospital. However, he was given little orientation to the nature of mental illness, and he mistakenly thought he could “reason” his patients back to a world of reality. One schizophrenic inmate was particularly interesting to him, because the man believed himself to be dead.

“Yeah, it’s true,” the patient would tell anyone who asked. “I’m dead. Been dead for years.”

The intern couldn’t resist trying to “talk” the schizophrenic out of his fantasy. Therefore, he sat down with the patient and said, “I understand you think you’re dead. Is that right?”
“Sure is,” replied the inmate. “I’m deader than a doornail.”
The intern continued, “Well, tell me this, do dead people bleed?”
“No, of course not,” answered the schizophrenic, sounding perfectly sane. The intern then took the patient’s hand in his own and stuck a needle into the fleshy part of his thumb. As the blood oozed from the puncture, the schizophrenic gasped and exclaimed, “Well, what do you know! Dead people do bleed!”

There may be times when the reader will find himself holding similar “conversations” with his uncomprehending adolescent. These moments usually occur while trying to explain why he must be home by a certain hour-or why he should keep his room straight-or why he can’t have the car on Friday night-or why it doesn’t really matter that he wasn’t invited to the smashing party given by the senior sweetheart, Helen High School. These issues defy reason, responding instead to the dynamic emotional, social and chemical forces which propel them.

On the other hand, we can’t afford to abandon our communicative efforts just because parents and teens have difficulty understanding one another. We simply must remain “in touch” during these turbulent years. This is especially true for the pleasant and happy child who seemingly degenerates overnight into a sour and critical 14-year-old anarchist (a common phenomenon). Not only are parents distressed by this radical change but the child is often worried about it too. He may be confused by the resentment and hostility which has become so much a part of hispersonality. He clearly needs the patient reassurance of a loving parent who can explain the “normality” of this agitation and help him ventilate the accumulated tension.

But how can this be accomplished? ‘Tis a difficult question to answer. The task of prying open the door of communication with an angry adolescent can require more tact and skill than any other assignment in parenthood. The typical reaction by mothers and fathers is to be drawn into endless verbal battles that leave them exhausted but without strategic advantage. There has to be a better way of communicating than shouting at one another. Let me propose an alternative that might be workable in this situation.

For purposes of illustration, suppose that “Brian” is 14 years old and has entered a period of rebelliousness and defiance as described above. He is breaking rules right and left, and seems to hate the entire family. He becomes angry when his-parents discipline him, of course, but even during tranquil times he seems to resent them for merely being there. Last Friday night he arrived home an hour beyond his deadline, but refused to explain why he was late or make apologetic noises. What course of action would be best for his parents to take?

Let’s assume that you are Brian’s father. I would recommend that you invite him out to breakfast on a Saturday morning, leaving the rest of the family at home. It would be best if this event could occur during a relatively placid time, certainly not in the midst of a hassle or intergenerational battle. Admit that you have some important matters to discuss with him which can’t be communicated adequately at home, but don’t “tip your hand” before Saturday morning. Then at the appropriate moment during breakfast, convey the following messages (or an adaptation thereof):

(A.) “Brian, I wanted to talk to you this morning because of the changes that are taking place in you and in our home. We both know that the past few weeks have not been very pleasant. You have been angry most of the time and have become disobedient and rude. And your mother and I haven’t done so well either. We’ve become irritable, and we’ve said things that we’ve regretted later. This is not what God wants of us as parents, or of you as our son. There has to be a more creative way of solving our problems. That’s why we’re here.

(B.) “As a place to begin, Brian, I want you to understand what is happening. You have gone into a new period of life known as adolescence. This is the final phase of childhood, and it is often a very stormy and difficult few years. Nearly everyone on earth goes through these rough years during their early teens, and you are right on schedule at this moment. Many of the problems you face today were predictable from the day you were born, simply because growing up has never been an easy thing to do. There are even greater pressures on kids today than when we were young. I’ve said that to tell you this: we understand you and love you as much as we ever did, even though the past few months have been difficult in our home.

(C.) “What is actually taking place, you see, is that you have had a taste of freedom. You are tired of being a little boy who was told what to wear and when to go to bed and what to eat. That is a healthy attitude which will help you grow up. However, now you want to be your own boss and make your own decisions without interference from anyone. Brian, you will get what you want in a very short time. You are 14 now, and you’ll soon be 15 and 17 and 19. You will be grown in a twinkling of an eye, and we will no longer have any responsibility for you. The day is coming when you will marry whomever you wish, go to whatever school you choose, select the profession or job that suits you. Your mother and I will not try to make those decisions for you. We will respect your adulthood. Furthermore, Brian, the closer you get to those days, the more freedom we plan to give you. You have more privileges now than you had last year, and that trend will continue.We will soon set you free, and you will be accountable only to God and yourself.

(D.) “But, Brian, you must understand this message: you are not grown yet. During the past few weeks, you have wanted your mother and me to leave you alone-to let you stay out half the night if you chose-to fail in school-to carry no responsibility at home. And you have ‘blown up’ whenever we have denied even your most extreme demands. The truth of the matter is, you have wanted us to grant you 20-year-old freedom during your l4th year, although you still expect to have your shirts ironed and your meals fixed and your bills paid. You have wanted the best of both worlds with none of the responsibilities. So what are we to do? The easiest thing would be for us to let you have your way. There would be no hassles and no conflict and no more frustration. Many parents of 14-year-old sons and daughters have done just that. But we must not yield to this temptation. You are not ready for that complete independence, and we would be showing hatred for you (instead of love) if we surrendered at this time. We would regret our mistake for the rest of our lives, and you would soon blame us, too. And as you know, you have two younger sisters who are watching you very closely and must be protected from the things you are teaching them.

(E.) “Besides, Brian, God has given us a responsibility as parents to do what is right for you, and He is holding us accountable for the way we do that job. I want to read you an important passage from the Bible which describes a father named Eli who did not discipline and correct his two unruly teenage sons. (Read the dramatic story from the Living Bible, 1 Samuel 2:12-7, 22-25, 27-34, 3:1 1-14; 4:1-3 and 10-22.) 1It is very clear that God was angry at Eli for permitting his sons to be disrespectful and disobedient. Not only did He allow the sons to be killed in battle, but He also punished their father for not accepting his parental responsibilities. This assignment to parents can be found throughout the Bible: mothers and fathers are expected to train their children and discipline them when required. What I’m saying is that God
will not hold us blameless if we let you behave in ways that are harmful to yourself and others.

(F.) “That brings us to the question of where we go from this moment. I want to make a pledge to you, here and now: your mother and I intend to be more sensitive to your needs and feelings than we’ve been in the past. We’re not perfect, as you well know, and it is possible that you will feel we have been unfair at one time or another. If that occurs, you can express your views and we will listen to you. We want to keep the door of communication standing wide open between us. When you seek a new privilege, I’m going to ask myself this question, ‘Is there any way I can grant this request without harming Brian or other people?’ If I can permit what you want in good conscience, I will do so. I will compromise and bend as far as my best judgment will let me.

(G.) “But hear this, Brian. There will be a few matters that cannot be compromised. There will be occasions when I will have to say `no.’ And when those times come, you can expect me to stand like the Rock of Gibraltar. No amount of violence and temper tantrums and door slamming will change a thing. In fact, if you choose to fight me in those remaining rules, then I promise that you will lose dramatically. Admittedly you’re too big and grown up to spank, but I can still make you uncomfortable. And that will be my goal. Believe me, Brian, I’11 lie awake nights figuring how to make you miserable. I have the courage and the determination to do my job during these last few years you are at home, and I intend to use all of my resources for this purpose, if necessary, So it’s up to you. We can have a peaceful time of cooperation at home, or we can spend this last part of your childhood in unpleasantness and struggle. Either way, you will arrive home when you are told, and you will carry your share of responsibility in the family and you will continue to respect your mother and me.

(H.) “Finally, Brian, let me emphasize the message I gave you in the beginning. We love you more than you can imagine, and we’re going to remain friends during this difficult time. There is so much pain in the world today. Life involves disappointment and loss and rejection and aging and sickness and ultimately death. You haven’t felt much of that discomfort yet, but you’ll taste it soon enough. So with all that heartache outside our door, let’s not bring more of it on ourselves. We need each other. We need you, and believe it or not, you still need us occasionally. And that, I suppose, is what we wanted to convey to you this morning. Let’s make it better from now on.

(I.) “Do you have things that need to be said to us?”

The content of this message should be modified to fit individual circumstances and the needs of particular adolescents. Furthermore, the responses of children will vary tremendously from person to person. An “open” boy or girl may reveal his deepest feelings at such a moment of communication, permitting a priceless time of catharsis and ventilation. On the other hand, a stubborn, defiant, proud adolescent may sit immobile with head downward. But even if your teenager remains stoic or hostile, at least the cards have been laid on the table and parental intentions explained.

(The above material was published by FOCUS ON THE FAMILY, 1992)

Christian Information Network

Posted in AIS File Library, BSFM - Family and Marriage0 Comments

How to Help Your Kids Say “No” to Sex

HOW TO HELP YOUR KIDS SAY “NO” TO SEX

Teenagers growing up in the 90s face many of the same challenges that have tested previous generations: making college and career plans, choosing a mate, and finding one’s place in the world. But without a doubt, questions relating to sexuality present teens with some of their most difficult decisions. The risk of broken dreams, lost reputations, unintended pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases have always been part of the gamble associated with sexual promiscuity. However, today’s sexually active teens are risking a new and deadly consequence: AIDS.

The emergence of AIDS at a time when many teens are sexually active has presented parents and educators with the serious dilemma of protecting teens from this deadly disease. One suggestion has been the so-called “safe sex” message promoted in public schools, mainstream media and popular youth culture. Standing opposite this approach is the timeless message of reserving sexual activity for marriage. This booklet provides a brief look at these two approaches and offers guidance for those interested in more information on abstinence education.

Sexual Pressure, Teens and Parents

“Having premarital sex was the most horrifying experience of my life. It wasn’t at all emotionally satisfying or the casually-taken experience the world perceives it to be. I felt as if my insides were being exposed and my heart left unattended.”

“It’s not a pretty picture. It’s not a TV soap opera either. The reality of pregnancy outside of marriage is scary and lonely. To have premarital sex was my choice one hot June night, forcing many decisions I thought I would never have to make. Those decisions radically changed my life.”

“It’s so hard sometimes-like last week, when I was over at Bill’s, and his roommate Tom started talking to me again. He knows Bill and I haven’t slept together and he’s basically told me I’m too Victorian. But what really hurt was his accusation that there’s something wrong with anyone who doesn’t want to have sex before marriage. I didn’t know what to say.”

These real life testimonies illustrate the tremendous pressure today’s teens are under to engage in premarital sex and the negative consequences that result. Television, movies and music seduce our children into becoming sexually active at an increasingly early age. On “Doogie Howser, M.D.,” a popular program on the ABC television network, Doogie states, “A man is a lot of things, but he’s not a virgin.” just before he sleeps with his girlfriend. Kids will see over 14,000 acts of sexual contact on television every year. Our youth culture conveys the idea that “everybody’s doing it,” contributing to the pressure teens experience from their peers. In fact, Planned Parenthood reports that the number one reason teens have sexual intercourse is peer pressure. Sexual gratification comes fourth, behind curiosity and thinking that “everyone else is doing it.”

A January 1992 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) survey found that 54.2% of U.S high school students (grades 9-12) have had sexual intercourse. This ratio increases dramatically through the high school years with 72% of our teens having lost their virginity by the twelfth grade. In addition, the CDC reports over I million teen pregnancies and over 3 million new cases of sexually transmitted disease for adolescents every year.

Since 1970, the federal government has spent $3 billion to promote contraception and “safe sex.” $450 million will go down that hole this year. In contrast, less than $8 million is earmarked to promote abstinence this year. In the twenty years since the inception of federal family planning programs there has been an 87% rise in pregnancies for teenagers between the ages of 15-19, unplanned births have risen 61 %, and syphilis rates have risen 6O%, for teens l5-l9 since 1985. The arrival of AIDS as a deadly STD has raised the stakes against our teens.

Public schools have stepped in to take over the parental role in teaching sex education but, in many cases, schools have merely joined in with the “teenage sex is inevitable” chorus. In the New York and Los Angeles school systems condoms are now distributed to high schools students without parental consent. More and more parents are finding themselves shut out of this crucial decision in their child’s life.

Parents must become their child’s primary source of information and guidance regarding sex. It’s a matter of life and death!

Study after study demonstrates what many people know as common sense: Parental involvement is the single most critical factor affecting the sexual activity of teens. A study of 10,000 high school sophomores conducted by the U.S. Department of Education found that strong parental values and parental supervision has the most significant effect on teen sexual activity. Parents who had a close relationship with their teenage daughters, supervised their school work and activities were able to curb the likelihood that their daughters would become pregnant by 42%. The study also found that schools were unable to reduce the sexual activity of adolescents and teen pregnancies with the usual comprehensive sex education programs which emphasize condoms.

Dr. Stan Weed, Director of the Institute for Research and Evaluation, has identified the five most influential factors which affect the sexual involvement of teenagers:

1. The child’s value system (their sense of right and wrong).

2. Their social system (the influence of family and peers).

3. Related risk behaviors (drug and alcohol use, steady dating, skipping school).

4. Personality system (personal efficacy, risk taking propensity, rebelliousness, future orientation, need for acceptance, and personal vulnerability).

5. Information (knowledge about sexuality, reproduction, and contraception).

The role of the family cannot be emphasized strongly enough. The breakdown of the family, and subsequently the lack of guidance children have received in the area of sexuality, has ultimately led young people to look to other areas for fulfillment and acceptance. It is in this type of situation that peer pressure can push a teenager into sexual involvement. Sex educator Josh McDowell writes,

“Our needs are compounded by the breakdown of the family . . . in times past . . . people could find a relative security and significance within the family. They had at least one place where they could be themselves and not have to perform. But that is not true in most cases today. Rather than have a haven from the world, for many teens the family setting is a place of discord and unrest, a place where spouses are put on a performance basis, knowing they will be discarded if they do not continually please the other. Any element of security the family may have held is removed, since people within the family are not loved for who they are, but rather for how they perform. Kids growing up in that kind of environment lack acceptance and security, which leaves them with an unhealthy sense of worthlessness. They don’t feel free to be themselves. They believe that if they were, no one would like them.

With a poor self-image brought about by lack of acceptance of them as unique individuals, teenagers may grab for the first thing that resembles security. Often this means sex . . . unfortunately premature sexual involvement often makes things worse.”

Abstinence vs. “Safe Sex”

Why should I teach my child abstinence? What’s wrong with teaching them to practice “safe sex”?

Apart from moral considerations, abstinence before marriage and a mutually faithful relationship thereafter is the only 100% effective means to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. Abstinence is the only true comprehensive sex education and it provides complete protection physically, emotionally and psychologically.

By way of contrast, condoms present an unacceptable level of risk due to high failure rates. When used as the sole means of contraception, condoms have a standardized failure rate of 15.7% over the course of a year.” This rate is calculated to show a number that applies to all condom users, but failure rates for specific groups show even higher numbers. Among young, unmarried, minority women the annual failure rate is 36.3%; among unmarried Hispanic women it is as high as 44.5%.

Therefore, for the average user over the course of a year, chances of getting pregnant while using a condom are 1 in 6. But unlike pregnancy, which can only occur 2-3 days a month, you can get AIDS any day of the month, 365 days a year. In addition, there is no condom strong enough to shield a child’s self-esteem. And latex offers no protection against broken hearts and shattered dreams.

Under the best circumstances, condoms present an unacceptable measure of risk. Despite billions spent on “safe sex” education, most teens fail to use condoms properly-if they use them at all. Currently, much less than half of all sexually active teens use condoms. Planned Parenthood’s own data shows that educating teens about sexuality and contraceptives does not result in increased contraceptive use. The same data also indicates that teenagers are ineffective users of contraceptives because of their developmental stage.

According to Dr. Nicholas Fiumara, Massachusetts Department of Health, there are certain conditions necessary to ensure condom effectiveness:”…provided there is no preliminary sex play, the condom is intact before use, the condom is put on correctly and the condom is taken off correctly. However, the male population has never been able to fulfill the very first requirement.”

One third of teenage pregnancies occur while a contraceptive is being used!

What exactly is abstinence?

Some sex educators have tried to “re-define” abstinence to mean non-penetration, thus allowing for oral sex, mutual masturbation, etc. But this definition doesn’t keep one from catching sexually transmitted diseases. It also misses the purpose of abstinence education, which is best defined as preserving sexual intimacy, and the powerful bonds it creates, for the commitment of marriage.

Governor Douglas Wilder of Virginia put it very succinctly in an editorial for the Wall Street Journal. Governor Wilder stated:

“More than ever, our young people must understand that making mature decisions; making life-long commitments; making structured and loving families-rather than merely making babies; and making the most of the opportunities that do exist in every aspect of life; these are the actions that constitute the beginning of a passage into manhood . . .

But-as common sense tell us-there are precautions to be taken by the young and the unmarried, especially for those who know that they are not remotely close to being ready for the unending responsibility of parenthood. If you want to have a future, it is imperative that our young-male and female alike-embrace the ultimate precaution – abstinence.”

Abstinence Education at Home

When should I begin to talk to my child about sex?

Sex education author and mother Connie Marshner emphasizes that the role of parents in their child’s sex education begins at an early age:

“Nobody loves your child like you do. If you don’t give your child your instruction, someone else will give them theirs. Even though you might think they are too young to understand, they’re absorbing information and values. In the absence of a countervailing set of ideas from you, they’ll be automatically absorbing ideas from somewhere else.

By the time the child is in high school and ready to date, which is the time when patents say we should `have the talk,’ their minds are already made up. Their values and patterns of behavior are set. The approach to training in sex begins when your child is born … children at 2- 3 can observe men and women interacting with each other and they’re learning something from it. If you’re walking in the park with your 3-year old and you see a couple of teenagers necking on the bench and you walk by and say nothing, your child draws his or her own conclusion, `Well, there’s nothing unusual about that, Mommy didn’t say anything.’

Whereas if you walk by and say `Well, they certainly shouldn’t be doing that in public. I hope they’re married,’ then the child makes the connection that this sort of cuddling has something to do with marriage. It’s not sex-ed. per se but it’s the beginning of laying down a pattern and attitude toward how one will behave sexually.”

How do I get started?

Sex education professionals Margaret Whitehead and Onalee McGraw offer several suggestions on how to teach your child family values. Whitehead and McGraw urge parents everywhere to build a foundation of love, respect and personal dignity in the home; teach children good manners that show respect for others; teach that self-control and good habits are important; and help children to understand that there are consequences to their actions and give them age-appropriate responsibilities.

As children head into the elementary school years, Whitehead and McGraw give additional guidelines on how you can instill behaviors which will assist in teaching abstinence. Given the powerful influence of peer pressure, Whitehead and McGraw believe that by showing them the importance of personal goals and virtues and by encouraging them to keep busy with positive activities, children are more likely to resist peer pressure.” You can also counter cultural and consumer forces which try to “rush” children into pseudo-maturity by patiently helping them develop the intellectual, social, spiritual, and emotional traits necessary to achieve maturity.

As the child progresses through the elementary school years and heads into puberty, Whitehead and McGraw recommend that you seriously consider the rules and regulations concerning dating life, such as: starting age, supervision, curfews, purposes of dating, and attitudes towards going steady.”

All through this process, you need to continually encourage children to develop such virtues and character traits as self-discipline, honesty, courage, perseverance, responsibility, respect, and concern for others. Children at this age need to have their feelings and concerns taken seriously by you, and at the same time you should be willing to help children place their feelings and concerns in the proper context.

But will kids listen to abstinence?

A December 1991 USA Today poll calls chastity the “second sexual revolution.” The poll shows that more than half of all adults (54%) and almost two thirds of teenagers (63%) find the so-called “safe sex” message disturbing since it implies an endorsement of casual sex. The poll also shows that the majority of adults AND TEENS agree that today’s adolescents don’t hear enough about saying “no” to sex.

But aren’t some kids going to “do it” anyway?

Some kids will drink anyway, but we’re not bashful about saying “don’t drink.” Some kids will do drugs anyway, but we’re not shy about saying “don’t do drugs.” Why are we afraid to tell kids “don’t have sex?” What if we took that approach with drug education? Since some kids will do drugs anyway, should we teach them how and provide clean needles?

How much risk is acceptable when you’re talking about your teenager’s life? One study of married couples, in which one partner was infected with the AIDS/HIV virus, showed that 17% of the non-infected partners caught the virus while using a condom for protection. Suppose your son or daughter was joining a year-long sky-diving club with five friends. If you knew that one of their parachutes would definitely fail, would you recommend that they simply buckle the chutes tighter? Certainly not. You would say, “Please don’t jump. Your life is at stake!” How could a loving parent do anything less?

Isn’t it simplistic to “just say no”?

Indeed, it’s not enough to “just say no.” What are we going to say “yes” to? Are we teaching our children those things that are worth living for: marriage, family, love, sex, respect, true friendships, and hope in life? Sex is one of the most complex and crucial issues they’ll face and simplistic solutions, whether condoms or rules, will not work.
The one thing that most profoundly changes a person with respect to sex, is personal commitment on the part of parents.

Focus on the Family has identified a number of resources to help parents educate their children regarding sex:

BOOKS FOR CHILDREN

CONCORDIA SEX EDUCATION SERIES

Each book is targeted toward a specific age group and is designed, in its vocabulary and the amount of information provided, to answer questions most typically asked by children. The theme of human sexuality, including delicate subject matters such as abortion, premarital sex, and homosexuality, are dealt with in a very tactful and healthy manner, yet without compromise. A strong emphasis is on the understanding that sex is a God-given gift which is to be used responsibly. The series is available at local Christian bookstores or through Concordia Publishing House, 3558 S. Jefferson Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63118-3968, (800) 325-3040.

Book 1: Why Boys and Girls are Different by Carol Greene (Ages 3-5)

Through delightful pictures and simple words, this tool helps parents to delicately answer preschooler’s questions. An encouraging book for boys and girls that teaches how to accept their sexuality naturally, as God’s loving gift.

Book 2: Where Do Babies Come From? by Ruth Hummel (Ages 6-8)

Sensitive and carefully planned, this book shows your growing child God’s plan for new life, how boys and girls grow up to be fathers and mothers, how parents have a special love for each other and how God made their bodies to fit together, as well as how babies are born.

Book 3: How You Are Changing by Jane Traver (Ages 8-11)

This book speaks with understanding about the changes encountered in adolescence. A delicate, yet accurate explanation of the physiological aspects of sexuality, it offers a positive Christian perspective to help children develop a healthy, responsible view of God’s gift.

Book 4: Sex and the New You by Richard Bimler (Ages 11-14)

A sound description of the basic facts of sexuality: becoming a woman, becoming a man, sexual intercourse, conception, and birth. Relating sexuality to Christian concepts, answers are given to pre-teens most puzzling questions; including “How old should I be to date?” “What should I do on a date?” and “How can I show affection without going too far?” Questions on topics that aren’t easy to talk about receive special consideration as they relate to God’s plan: pornography, sexual experimentation, venereal disease, out of wedlock pregnancies, and homosexuality. It also encourages young people to discuss questions with parents.

Book 5: Love, Sex, and God by Bill Ameiss and Jane Graver (Ages 14 and up)

Following an explanation of male and female sexual systems, the authors confront the cruel myths regarding drugs, alcohol, and venereal diseases that often mislead teens. Included are biblical guidelines for social life; popularity, dating, setting limits, playing the field and going steady. A special section for older teens covers questions about love, marriage, sexuality within wedlock, and starting a family. As they face tough questions about sexuality, teens are urged to seek help from parents, pastor, and God.

Book 6: How to Talk Confidently With Your Child About Sex by Lenore Buth

Parent’s Guide. This guide will help parents feel confident with their own sexuality and prepare them to lay a solid foundation for their children. From toddler to teen to young adult, this reference book answers the many questions parents will encounter during each developmental stage.

BOOKS FOR PARENTS

Decent Exposure by Connie Marshner (Wolgemuth & Hyatt)

This valuable book offers insight on how to effectively teach children about modesty, the dangers of premarital sexual relations, and marriage.

How to Help Your Child Say “No” to Sexual Pressure by Josh McDowell (Here’s Life Publishers)

Beginning with a short discussion on the adolescent sexuality crisis, this book explores the causes, and shows how to prevent your child from becoming a statistic of today’s popular youth culture.

How to Teach Your Child About Sex by Grace Ketterman (Revell)

Ketterman offers a wholesome approach to raising sexually responsible, secure children.

Preparing For Adolescence by Dr. James Dobson (Vision House)

An insightful book for any adolescent. A discussion of topics that trouble teens most-inferiority, conformity, puberty, the meaning of love and the search for identity – is included.

Preparing Youth For Dating, Courtship and Marriage by Norman Wright (Gospel Light)

This teacher’s guide gives the instruction and material to prepare students for dating, courtship, and marriage. It includes 12 overhead transparencies and 4 masters for making copies.

Sex: When to Say Yes / Some Things Are Never Discounted (2 book set) by Fran and Jill Sciacca (Whitaker House)

These books challenge teens to share with God their struggles about sex. Each chapter includes a real-life story, personal study questions, and a summary on various aspects of dating and sexuality.

Sexuality and Sexually Transmitted Diseases by Dr. Joe S. McIlhaney Jr. (Baker Book House)

Dr. Mcilhaney frankly discusses the facts of sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) and their future physical implications. He demolishes the myth of “safe sex” outside of marriage, demonstrating that the only safe and proper sex is with one partner in a monogamous marriage relationship. He also offers tips to teens on how to say “no” to sex.

Smart Kids, Stupid Choices by Kevin Leman(Regal Books)

This book discusses peer pressure, friends, sex, drugs, dating, self-esteem and communication.

When Schools Teach Sex by Judith B . Elhaniz (Free Congress Research and Education Foundation)

A handbook for evaluating your school’s sex education program.

Why Wait: What You Need to Know About The Teen Sexuality Crisis by Josh McDowell (Here’s Life Publishers)

This book offers practical advice on how parents can teach their children to remain sexually pure and offers insight into the reasons teenagers become sexually active.

VIDEO SERIES

How to Help Your Child Say “No” to Sexual Pressure

An eight-part video series for parents of teens and preteens presented from a Christian perspective. This set is designed to help parents become more effective as the primary resource of sexual values for their children. Available from Josh McDowell Ministries, Box 1000, Dallas, TX 75221, (800) 222-JOSH.

A Parent’s Guide: Teaching Responsible Sexual Behavior

This training workshop helps parents become children’s primary source and guidance regarding sex education. Five two-hour sessions. Available from Teen-Aid, N. 1330 Calispel, Spokane, WA 99201, (509) 328-2080.

Abstinence Education at School

While parental commitment and a healthy self-image are key in instilling the values of abstinence, today’s children will receive most of their sex education in the school system. Parents who have followed the principles outlined above can still feel hopeless when their child is turned over to a sex education curriculum which seeks to tear down the values that the parent has tried so hard to build.

Fortunately, curricula have been developed in recent years that support these values, instead of ridiculing and rejecting them. Many of these curricula have proven records of effectiveness. Sex education researcher, Dr. Dinah Richard, after following one program in Texas, notes that “70% of the students said that they were making a commitment to abstinence until marriage. At Canyon High School, the pregnancy rate dropped by two-thirds over a two year period after [the abstinence curriculum] was implemented.”

While both parents and students want to see abstinence taught in the public schools, they often face serious roadblocks by organizations which do not share their viewpoint. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union have challenged abstinence programs in court, because “abstinence is a principle taught in the Bible” and therefore it violates the separation of church and state. However, Dr. Richard points out that schools already teach that it is wrong to steal, cheat, lie, rape, and murder, all of which comes straight out of the Bible.

If your school board uses this as an argument to reject abstinence-based sex education, you can point out that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in Bowen v. Kendrick (1988) that abstinence programs serve a legitimate secular purpose and do not violate the separation of church and state.

Abstinence can be instilled at home and taught in the schools. For more information on abstinence curriculum, Focus on the Family recommends the following:

Facing Reality This is a new high school curriculum offered by Project Respect. Their address is Box 97, Golf, IL 60029-0097, (708) 729-3298.

Foundations For Family Life Education An informative guide book for professionals and parents interested in teaching abstinence-based sex education is available from Educational Guidance Institute, Inc., 927 S. Walter Reed Drive., Suite #4., Arlington, VA 22204, (703) 486-8313.

Has Sex Education Failed Our Teenagers? This special report by Dinah Richard, Ph.D contains detailed statistics, information, and additional resources to help concerned individuals find a solution to teenage pregnancy. This report is available through Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO 80995 or (719) 633-6287. In Canada, P.O Box 9800, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 4G3, (604) 684-8333.

Healthy Sex Education in Your Schools: A Parent’s Handbook This companion to Has Sex Education Failed Our Teenagers? offers a plan for parents who want to see abstinence and moral responsibility taught in their child’s school. Available from Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO 80995 or by calling (719) 633-6287. In Canada, P.0 Box 9800, Vancouver B.C. V6B 4-G3 or (604) 684-8333.

Families, Decision-Making and Human Development This curriculum invites junior and senior high students to live in ways which promote their future, encourage personal health and foster emotional well-being. The importance of family relationships, human reproduction, and AIDS is also dealt with. It is available from Pnuema Press, 2275 Westpark Court, Suite 201, Euless, TX 76040, (817) 267-6847.

Learning About Myself and Others (LAMO) This program is designed for children in grades 1 to 6 and is presented from a traditional perspective with an emphasis on premarital abstinence, traditional family, and marriage. To enhance communication between parent and child, parents are required to attend with their children. Available from Anne Nesbit, R.R.3 Orchard Circle, Pittsfield, MA 01201, (413) 698-2688.

Me, My World, My Future A fifteen-unit middle school program, it stresses the postponement of immediate gratification in exchange for future goals. Sexual activity is discussed from a family-values perspective and the consequences of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are examined. Available from Teen-Aid, N. 1330 Calispel, Seattle, WA 99201, (509) 328-2080.

Sex Respect: The Option of True Sexual Freedom This values-based three-week program for junior or senior highers, offers separate workbooks for teens, teachers, and parents. Available from Respect Incorporated, P.0 Box 349, Bradley, IL 60915-0349, (815) 932-8389 or Project Respect, Box 97, Golf, IL 60029-0097, (708) 729-3298.

Sexuality, Commitment, and Family A three week, morality-based program for public high schools is available from Teen-Aid Inc., N.1330 Calispel, Seattle, WA 99201, (509) 328-2080.

Teaching True Abstinence Sex Education This is a teacher’s manual of “hands on” activities and suggestions for conveying the true abstinence message. It emphasizes the areas proven to be important factors in reducing sexual activity among teens. Contact Project Respect, Box 97, Golf, IL 60029-0097, (708) 729-3298.

Many school districts also mandate that AIDS education be incorporated into sex education classes. Focus on the Family recommends the following resources:

Who Do You Listen To? Sex In The Age of AIDS This is a thirty-minute AIDS education film created for the public school system. The film presents a positive message in a dramatic classroom setting. The teacher’s lecture and student-teacher interaction presents medical facts about AIDS with scenes of adolescents, struggling with moral decisions while in a dating situation, help to underscore the right choices for teens. A visit to an AIDS hospice helps viewers realize the tragedy of the disease and the importance of remaining sexually abstinence Available on free loan to public schools through Gospel Films, Box 455, Muskegon, MI 49443, (800) 253-0413. Film details can be obtained from Why Wait?, Josh McDowell Ministries, Box 1000, Dallas, TX 75221, (214) 907- 1000.

HIV: You Can Live Without It Developed by Teen Aid Inc., this AIDS curriculum stresses abstinence. Available from Teen-Aid Inc., N. 1330 Calispel, Spokane, WA 99201, (509) 466-8679 or (509) 328-2080.

AIDS: A Risky Business For Everyone Developed by Colleen Mast as a supplement to the Sex Respect curriculum, this program discusses the high fatality rate of AIDS, the levels of infection, the transmission of the virus, and prevention through the avoidance of drugs, premarital
sex, extramarital sex, and homosexual activity. It refutes the “safe sex” myth via condoms. Available from Respect Inc., P.0 Box 349, Bradley, IL 60915- 0349,(815)932-8389.

AIDS and Young People Written by Robert Redfield, M.D., of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and Wanda Franz, associate professor of family resources at the University of West Virginia. It covers the definition of AIDS, the origin of the virus, how people die from AIDS, the means of transmission, the extent of the disease, the categories of people infected, tests for AIDS, how to avoid getting AIDS, and the myth of “safe sex”. Available from Concerned Women for America, Coalition for Appropriate Sex Education, 370 L’Enfant Promenade S.W., Suite 800, Washington D.C. 20024, (800) 458-8797 or Project Respect, Committee on the Status of Women, Box 97, Gulf, IL 60029-0097, (312) 729-3298.

No Second Chance An emotionally charged film presented by Kathy Kay, R.N., it addresses the issues of AIDS and sexual abstinence. A public school version is also available. Contact Jeremiah Films, Dept. B, P.0. Box 1710, Hemet, CA 92343, (800) 828-2290 or in California (800) 633-0869.

Will “Safe Sex” Education Effectively Combat AIDS? An informal paper developed by the Department of Education, it refutes the fallacy of “safe sex”. It cites seventy-eight sources that show why condoms are not effective in preventing the transmission of the AIDS virus, and why premarital abstinence and marital fidelity are important. Contact the U.S Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Room 4019, Washington D.C. 20202, (202) 732-4024.

If you would like more information regarding abstinence or other family matters, contact Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO 80995, (719) 633-6287.

(The above information was published by FOCUS ON THE FAMILY, 1992)

Christian Information Network

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Hold Fast

HOLD FAST
By Patsy G. Lovell

When our second daughter, Kathleen, was 13, she was as lively as any young teenager could be. One night, she excitedly asked permission to buy a leather miniskirt, one like all the other girls in her class were wearing.

As she described the benefits, I could tell she was expecting a negative response. Nonetheless, she acted surprised when I said no. Kathleen then launched into great detail about how she would be the only one in the class without a leather miniskirt. I reminded her that my answer was no and explained my reasons.

“Well, I think you’re wrong!” she retorted.
“Wrong or right, I’ve made the decision. The answer is no. ”
Kathleen stomped off, but quickly turned on her heels. “I just want to explain why this is so important to me. ” I nodded.
“If I don’t have this miniskirt, I’II be left out, and all my friends won’t like me.”
“The answer is no,” I quietly repeated.
She puffed up like a balloon and played her final card. “I thought you loved me,” she wailed.
“I do. But the answer is still no.”
With that, she “whumped” – a noise made only by an angry junior high kid trying to get her way. She ran upstairs and slammed her bedroom door.

Even though I had won the battle, I felt I was losing the war. I went to the living room and sat down. My husband was working late; I was the only parent “on duty.” Then one of those unexplainable things happened: An inner voice said to me, Hold fast!

It dawned on me that Kathleen and I were not locked in a battle over a miniskirt but rather a battle of wills. A mother versus her 13-year-old daughter. Holdfast meant I needed to prevail even though I couldn’t stop my hands from shaking or my stomach from churning.

The whumping noise from Kathleen’s bedroom started once more, and sure enough, she appeared on the stairwell. This time, she was breathing fire.

“I thought you taught us that we have rights!” she screamed.
“You do have rights. The answer is still no.”
She wound up again, but I cut her off. “Kathleen, I have made my
decision. I will not change my mind, and if you say another word about
this, you will be severely punished. Now go to bed!”

She still had a few words left, but she held them in check. She loped off to bed, still seething.

I sat on the couch, shaking and upset. None of the children had everpushed me so far. I leafed through a book, too wound up to go to bed. Just when I thought our skirmishes were over, the sound of whumping came gain. Kathleen came down the stairs.

“Well,” she announced, “I’m just going to tell you one more time…”

I met her at the bottom step, planted my hands on my hips and looked her in the eyes. “Do not answer,” I said. “Do not say yes or no. Do not say anything. Do not say `Yes, ma’am’ or `No, ma’am.’ Turn around and go to, bed. And do not make a single sound!”

She slowly turned and trudged upstairs without a word. I dropped into the couch, thoroughly exhausted. For several minutes I stared into space and wondered what my blood pressure count was. Then I heard her door open. Kathleen, her nose and eyes red from crying, walked down the stairs in pajamas. Curlers were in her hair. She held out her hands to me.

“Oh, Mom, I’m sorry.”
We hugged as she said through her tears, “I was so scared!” ”
“Scared of what?”
“I was scared that you were going to let me win!” she sniffed.

You were scared that I was going to let you win? I was perplexed for a moment. Then I realized that my daughter had wanted me to win!

I had held fast, and she was convinced I had done what a mother needed to do. Her simple words gave me the reassurance I needed.

Children love their parents, but they cannot handle being equal with them. Deep down, they do not see themselves as grown up. In fact, they will, if they can get away with it, bring a parent down to their level, so that all the family seems like a group of kids.

Deep down, teens know they need guidance and leadership. Parents, it’s up to us to give it to them.

Remember: Holdfast!

(Patsy Lovell is a middle school teacher in Hazel Green, Ala.)

(The above information was published by FOCUS ON THE FAMILY, October, 1993)

Christian Information Network

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The Safe Sex Myth

THE SAFE SEX MYTH
By: James C. Dobson

How long has it been since you’ve heard anyone tell teenagers why it is to their advantage to remain virgins until marriage? How sad that adolescents hear only the “Safe Sex” message from adults who should know better.

There is no issue…no social development throughout North America…that concerns me more than adolescent sexuality and what it portends for the future. The AIDS crisis and Magic Johnson’s infection have provided an unprecedented opportunity for Planned Parenthood and the other condom and abortion promoters to lobby virtually every teenager in the land. And believe me, they intend to exploit and indoctrinate the entire generation now in escrow.

We must not sit passively on the sidelines. If you have an adolescent in your family or know of one who will read this article, please pass it on. They desperately need the truth that is being withheld from them. These are the facts that the “Safe Sex” gurus will not tell the youngsters in their charge. As a result, teen promiscuity will continue and millions of kids…thinking they are protected…will suffer for the rest of their lives. Many will die of AIDS. Humanity will eventually lumber back around to the traditional understanding of morality, I suppose. Indeed, it must do so. Epidemics and pestilence will force reconsideration, if the Lord tarries that long. But by then the consequences of defying God’s Law will have wreaked havoc among us. How tragic!

The following is what was prepared to share on the 90-minute ABC network program “Growing Up in the Age of AIDS,” February 2, 1992, hosted by Peter Jennings, but I was unable to due to lack of time because the program had too much packed into it (I was given a shingle 45-second sound bite), as well as being ignored by the host.

Why, apart from moral considerations, should teenagers be taught to abstain from sex until marriage?

No other approach to the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases will work. The so-called “safe-sex” solution is a disaster in the making. Condoms fail 15.7 percent of the time in preventing pregnancy among married couples. They fail 36.3 percent of the time in preventing pregnancy among young, unmarried minority women. The overall failure rate is as high as 44 percent in preventing pregnancy among unmarried Hispanic women. The British Medical Journal, reported the failure rate due to slippage and breakage to be 26 percent. Given these findings, it is obvious why we have a word for people who rely on condoms as a means of birth control. We call them… “parents.”

Remembering that a woman can conceive only one or two days per month, we can only guess how high the failure rate for condoms must be in preventing disease, which can be transmitted 365 days per year! If the devices are not used properly, or if they slip just once, viruses, bacteria, yeast, and fungi are exchanged and the disease process begins. One mistake after 500 “protected” episodes is all it takes. The damage is done in a single moment when rational thought is overridden by passion. Those who would depend on so insecure a method must use it properly on every occasion, and even then a high failure rate is brought about by factors beyond their control. The young victim whom is told by his elders that this little latex device is “safe” may not know he is risking lifelong pain and even death for so brief a window of pleasure. What a burden to place on an immature mind and body.

Then we must recognize, as implied above, that condoms cannot even be accurately tested for AIDS protection, since the virus is one-tenth the size of the smallest detectable hold. Viruses are 450 times smaller than sperm, and pass easily through even the smallest gaps. Researchers studying surgical gloves made out of latex, the same material in condoms, found “channels of 5 microns that penetrated the entire thickness of the glove.” The HIV virus measures between .1 and .3 microns. Given these findings, tell me what rational, informed person would trust his or her life to such flimsy armor?

I’m sure this explains why not one of 800 sexologists at a recent conference raised a hand when asked if they would trust a thin rubber sheath to protect them during intercourse with a known HIV-infected person. I don’t blame them. They’re not crazy after all. And yet they’re perfectly willing to tell our kids that “safe sex” is within reach and that they can sleep around with impunity.

There is only one way to protect ourselves from the deadly diseases that lie in wait. It is abstinence before marriage, then marriage and fidelity for life to an uninfected partner. Anything less is potentially suicidal.

That position is simply NOT realistic today. It’s an unworkable solution: Kids will NOT implement it.

Some will. Some won’t It’s still the only answer. But let’s talk about an “unworkable solution” of the first order. Since 1970, the federal government (U.S.) has spent over $2 billion to promote condom usage and “safe sex.” This year alone, $450 million of your tax dollars will go
do that drain! (Compared with less than $8 million for abstinence programs, which Senator Ted Kennedy and company have sought repeatedly to eliminate altogether.” Is it time we ask what we’ve gotten for our money? After 22 years and $2 billion, some 57 percent of sexually active teens still never use contraceptive teens still never use contraceptives during intercourse! Of the remaining 43 percent, many use condoms improperly or only occasionally. That is the success ratio of the experts who call abstinence “unrealistic” and “unworkable.”

Even if we spent another $50 billion to promote condom usage, most teenagers would still not use them consistently and properly. The nature of human beings and the passion of the act simply do not lend themselves to a disciplined response in young romantics.

But if you knew a teenager was going to have intercourse, wouldn’t you rather he would use a condom?

No, because that approach has an unintended consequence. The process of recommending condom usage to teenagers inevitably conveys five dangerous ideas:

(1) that “safe sex” is achievable;
(2) that everybody is doing it;
(3) that responsible adults expect them to do it;
(4) that it’s a good thing; and
(5) that their peers know they know these things, breeding promiscuity.

These are very destructive messages to give our kids.

Furthermore, Planned Parenthood’s own data show that the number one reason teenagers engage in intercourse is peer pressure! Therefore, anything we do to imply that “everybody is doing it” results in more, not fewer…people who give the game a try. What I am saying is that our condom distribution programs do not reduce the number of kids exposed to this disease…they radically increase it.

Want proof of that fact? Since the Planned Parenthood-type programs began in 1970, unwed pregnancies have increased 87 percent among the 18 and 19-year-olds. Likewise, abortions among teens rose to 346,900 in 1988; unplanned births went up 61 percent. And venereal disease has infected a generation of young people. Nice job, Planned Parenthood. Good thinking, senators and congressmen. Nice rap, America.

Let me press you further. If you were a parent and knew that your son or daughter was have sex, wouldn’t you take to him or her about proper condom usage?

Having said that the failure rate of condom usage is incredibly high, perhaps 50 percent or greater in disease prevention, why would I recommend this “solution” to my son or daughter? Suppose they were sky divers whose parachutes had a 50 percent failure rate. Would I simply recommend they buckle the chutes tighter? Certainly not. I would say, “Please don’t jump. Your life is at stake!” How could I as a loving father do less?

But there is another reason for talking to our kids about abstinence rather than “safe sex.” It is even more important than the life-and-death issue cited above. I am referring to rebellion against God and His promise to punish sin. Jesus said, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28 KJV). Spiritually death is infinitely worse than physical disability or death, and our kids deserve to know about this divine reality from the days of childhood.

Never! Never! Never would I withhold that vital information in favor of a “safe-sex” distortion.

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Disciplining Teenagers

Disciplining Teenagers
By Greg Bixby

Jack and Jim were the best of friends. So when Jim lost both his legs in a railroad accident, Jack did everything he could to help. At first, Jim was certain his career with the railroad was finished. Then the company gave him another job…as a signalman. His outpost was to be a lonely little stop, more than two hundred miles from anywhere. It was going to be lonely out there. Jack went along to be whatever help he could be on the new job.

In the beginning, Jack stuck around mostly for company. He swept out the little wooden shack, pumped water from the well, tended the garden, and made himself useful in all the ways legless Jim could not. There was a little trolley, a single seater that led from the shack to the signal tower. Jack pushed Jim on that trolley several times a day and stood there while Jim operated the big levers in sequence. Eventually, Jack got so familiar with Jim’s schedule that he began to walk out and operate the signal system himself.

Pretty soon, Jack began to take care of all the duties for the railroad, as well as the chores around the shack. There was a lot to be done, and a lot to remember. If a “point” needed to be adjusted down the line, Jack would listen for a passing engineer, flag him down, and give him a special key to make the adjustment. Daily responsibilities at the signal tower included working the levers that set the signals, as well as the tower controls that opened and closed the siding switches. There was a lot going on at the little outpost, and soon Jack was doing all the work. He never complained, it was the least he could do for his friend, Jim.

For more than nine years Jack kept house, pumped the water from the well, tended the garden, and trudged out to the signal tower each day to operate the heavy equipment. Then one day, Jack died. In all those years, Jack had never made one mistake. He never threw a switch incorrectly, never sided a car in error. There had not even been one narrow miss on the Port Elizabeth main line, all because of Jack. What makes this true story even more amazing is the fact that Jack was not a teenager at all. He was a baboon! If a baboon could be so trained, surely there is hope for discipling today’s teenagers.

What Is a Discipline?

The simplest meaning of the word disciple is a “learner” or “follower”.

Becoming a disciple incorporates both of these concepts. There has to be a communication of knowledge to begin the discipling process. Teaching our teens the basic information to live the Christian life is vital. Jesus said that we were His disciples if we would continue in His Word (John 8:31). How can a person continue in the Word of God if they have never been taught? The second aspect of learning the teachings of Jesus is to be able to relate those teachings to all of life.

There also has to be a communication of life to complete the discipling process. Being a follower alludes to the fact that someone is leading.

The second concept is the formation of character and value in young lives. Paul said that we should be imitators of him (1 Cor. 4:16 NIV). Showing our teens how to live the Christian life is also vital. This part of discipling is done by building quality relationships with young people and modeling the principles of Christian development.

We are not just teaching teens to know what we know, but to become what we are! Let’s focus in on how we might build quality relationships.

Essential of Quality Relationships

Be available and approachable. Do your best to be open and relaxed with your teens. Don’t let the abundance of planning and programming duties keep you from spending time with the kids. The best way to become more approachable is to be more relaxed around them. That comes with more and more personal experience.

Believe in them. Many of today’s youth are victimized by insecurity. They have a desperate need for someone to see beyond their surface problems and view something greater, their potential. Refuse to see the bad in them whenever possible. Your goal is to help them realize their hidden potentials.

Build self-esteem. Our society has placed too much emphasis on looks, wealth, and conformity, if you don’t have these, you are not important. Young people who are challenged to follow Christ struggle with the task of being in the world and not of it. Develop an attitude that edifies teens since they may not be getting it from their peers.

Be vulnerable. Young people are looking for real people with real problems who have found strength and guidance through their relationship with Christ. These are the role models that our kids need to see. They need to see the negative side of your life (problems and trials) and how you deal with it as much as they do the positive side. Observing your response to life’s difficulties can build stability in the young people you lead.

Love them unconditionally. Much of the love that teens are acquainted with has strings attached. They get love if they do a good job, get good grades, attend youth functions, or dress right. We need to offer them acceptance and love that is unconditional. They need to be accepted the way they are and where they are. If you can develop this, you will transform your personal presence into a place of refuge for them.

Meet them on their territory. The best learning takes place in real life situations. Before your teens believe many of the teachings you share with them, they will need to see you put them to work in your own daily living. It is easy to talk about Christian living while sitting in the church. Get yourself out into the real world and demonstrate to them the power of the truths you are sharing.

Learn to listen. The world is in short supply of good listeners. Good listening is selfless, patient, loving, supportive, kind and objective.

The level of worth you place on a young person is determined by the importance you place on his expressions and opinions. Begin listening to your youth, really listening! Encourage their expressions of faith, as well as their doubts. Allow them to be honest with you, this is the best way to take a look into their lives and assess their needs.

Be winsome. Genuine laughter, fun, excitement, enthusiasm, and plain joy with life are infectious. Learn to relax and enjoy life with your teens. It will be a soothing ointment for aching hearts and sullen spirits. This characteristic of winsomeness is a willingness to involve yourself in the joys and hurts of others. Don’t mistake it for an inborn charisma and be cheated out. Remember, a smile can break down many barriers.

Don’t give up. This type of quality relationship will not take place overnight. It will definitely take some time for us as youth leaders to change. It will take more time to implement it with the teens. Hang in there! You can do it! It just takes time!

The One and a Half Plan

This is a very easy way to begin your discipleship program. The One and A Half Plan will get you started down the road to building relationships. This is not very demanding, yet it will produce great results if you work it consistently. I highly recommend that you start with a simplified approach like this one:

a. 1 hour/week with one youth in discipleship (coke or meal)

b. 3 phone calls/week to kids in your group (15 min.)

c. 3 letters or notes/week to kids in your group (15 min.)

Seven contacts/week – 3 calls, 3 letters, 1 personal contact and you will have touched 365 kids and had 52 discipleship opportunities.

Some Practical Ideas

Since building relationships is so important to the effectiveness of the discipling process, here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Learn their names.

2. Send out brief and encouraging correspondence.

3. Go out with them after your weekly meeting for a snack.

4. Have them come to your place.

5. Play a sport with them. (basketball, tennis, racquetball)

6. Follow through on those birthday invitations.

7. Go to some of their school activities. (debates, concerts, etc.)

8. Have lunch with your young people and their friends at school.

9. Pick them up and take them for a snack after school.

10. Attend music recitals.

11. Serve them in various ways.

12. Get to know the life of the schools in the area.

13. Take them along on errands. (driving time facilitates talk)

14. Help them with their homework.

15. Have a girls’ slumber party or a guys’ overnighter.

Modeling the Principles of Leadership

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ motto is: “If you’re going to talk the talk, then you have to walk the walk.” As youth leaders, that needs to be our motto, too. Wait a minute! This is supposed to tell me how to disciple others. Sounds like this is a course in overhauling the youth leader. Remember…discipleship starts with you.

We cannot forget that we have a responsibility to show youth how the Christian life works on a daily basis. If we are going to be a model of what youth are to follow in discipleship, then we must allow the Holy Spirit total control of our lives.

Let’s look at some character traits that ought to be specifically modeled for disciples. Galatians 5:22-23 gives us a good starting point.

Love – Romans 5:8 describes what love is really like. True love accepts people just as they are (While we were yet sinners). Then it offers itself to meet the needs of others (Christ died for us). This type of love must come from the depth of a person’s character. It is necessary for discipling teens.

Joy – Joy becomes the expression of celebration which empowers us to be Christian. Joy makes us strong, produces energy and cannot be self-created. The only source of joy is obedience. Those who have a daily personal relationship with Jesus will be able to exhibit this quality of life.

Peace – Peace is not merely the absence of conflict. It is the calm assurance that God is in control no matter what comes our way as Christians. This quality of life is shown when we face life realistically instead of trying to escape.

Patience – The best description of patience is a “godly putting up with.” This is not an easy trait to have. Teens have the ability to help you develop this trait. They can sure give you a lot to put up with!

Kindness – The idea of this trait is a goodness which is kind. The yoke of Christ does not chafe us. It fits just right. It is easy! We have the opportunity to be yoked with another to help make their way easier, just as Christ is yoked with us.

Goodness – Goodness is a balance word. While kindness is gentle and sweet, goodness is a strong word that demands accountability. As demonstrators of the character of Christ, we must have balance in our lives – kindness as well as strong goodness.

Faithfulness – In this context faithfulness denotes the quality of trustworthiness or fidelity. The word refers to reliability, How often we as discipliners desire that our students be reliable when we, ourselves, are not always reliable. This is a convicting word.

Gentleness – This word suggests gentle strength. The gentle person is the person who knows his or her strength, but submits that strength to Christ in a ministry of love and caring for others. The person who is gentle is also teachable. We are not only to be teachers in our discipling but continual learners also,

Self-control – This describes the inner strength by which a man takes hold of himself. It is this quality that keeps him from being swept along by wrong desires or impulses. Without this characteristic all of our teaching will be of little value. Allowing God to be in charge of our lives is what is meant by this quality.

Practical Application – We cannot have these qualities in our life without a vital, vibrant, living relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not an option to have an ongoing relationship with our Lord. It is an absolute necessity!

Possessing all these traits is important, but how they “flesh themselves out” is equally important. Being a model for youth requires that they have the chance to observe in us some consistency in the way we live out our own lives.

Paul summed it up for us in Philippians 4:9 when he said, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (NIV)

Here are some areas that we can model our faith to our kids, our disciples:

1. Personal prayer life: keeping open lines of communication with God.

2. Faithful worship: attending church and giving praise to Jesus.

3. Fellowship: with other adults to keep ourselves from burn out.

4. Bible study: feeding ourselves and not just “getting a message”.

5. Sharing our faith: with strangers because we genuinely care.

6. Family life: treat spouse with respect, be the best parent we can.

7. Quality of life: making His kingdom a priority over money and time.

8. Temperament: keep ours seasoned with positiveness & Christlikeness.

Don’t Be Overwhelmed

Caution must be exercised! We are not mass producing junior clones of ourselves. The whole weight of our kids’ success does not fall on our shoulders alone. We are simply exercising an influence that encourages young people to discover and fulfill the unique destiny God has appointed for them. The Holy Spirit is working through us and in them to cultivate the spiritual fruit He desires. Discipleship is a lifetime journey!

Section Two – Communicating the Knowledge

This section deals with the educational process of learning the teachings of Jesus. We need to keep in mind that there are several approaches that we can use. Don’t spend all your time simply dispensing information to the minds of fifteen year olds in hope of discipling them. Simply knowing the right thing to do does not ensure that it will be done. Use various ways to instill His teachings. Be creative in the educational process.

a. Content transmittal

b. Problem solving

c. Trial and error

d. Team work

e. Special projects

f. Case studies

While we do have a set of doctrinal truths to be transmitted to every new generation, this was never intended to be the primary method of discipling.

Basic Christian Disciplines

A. Bible Study & Scripture Memorization: Getting into the Word is one of the most important disciplines for being a follower of Christ. Jesus used it to resist temptation by turning to the scripture that He had committed to memory. Youth need the teaching, reproof, correction and the training that can be gathered from the scriptures.

B. Prayer: Surely the disciples noticed the high priority that Jesus placed on prayer. He went into the mountain to pray, He went out in a boat to escape the crowd to pray, He regularly went to the garden to talk to His Father. Youth need to learn not only the “ask anything” of prayer but also the “abide in me and I in you”. Consistent prayer will help us in our horizontal relationships with others as well as in our vertical relationship with our heavenly Father.

C. Sharing Faith: Jesus was daily meeting the needs of people and genuinely caring about them. This gave him many opportunities to share the good news of the kingdom of God. Youth need to develop that same care and compassion for people. As they do, doors for sharing their faith will open.

D. Fellowship: This may sound strange to be included with the basic Christian disciplines. We need to stress to our youth the importance of the church. The church is one of the best places to find Christian fellowship. I’m not talking about pizza, cokes or hot dogs. Lifting others up and the ministry of encouragement should be a priority during our gathering together at the house of God. Our church is an important place to fellowship with God, His Word, and His Body of believers.

Main Objectives for Discipleship

1. Develop good quality materials to instruct the youth.

2. Put youth into a relationship with a trained and growing leader. This helps youth by giving them a living example to follow.

3. Use discipleship material and leaders as means of helping youth become grounded in their personal Christian disciplines.

Two Keys for Discipleship

* The Material Itself Is Not the Top Priority *

If our material becomes the key focus, then our kids pick up the idea that they are going through a prescribed number of lessons. If the material becomes the priority, then your discipleship runs the risk of becoming just another program. It is supposed to be a lifelong journey!

* Help Your Youth Become Grounded In the Basic Disciplines *

Combine the materials with growing leaders to help establish youth in the necessary Christian habits. You can not keep them in discipleship groups forever. They may lose their materials or just cast them aside eventually. As they grow up you may lose contact with them. But if you can help them become disciplined in a few key areas, they will have the tools and the means to remain lifelong disciples.

More Areas of Growth

Here are some other areas that you could use in teaching a continuing discipleship training program.

* Acquire an appetite to go deeper in their relationship to Christ.

* Integrate Scriptural views and precepts into their lives.

* Rely on Jesus in all circumstances as a close and personal friend.

* Sense the complete reality of forgiveness.

* Clarify misunderstandings about doctrinal and moral issues.

* Be “real” with their Christian brothers and sisters.

* To work out conflicts with family members.

* To reach out to their non-Christian friends.

* To affirm their own worth, dignity, and beauty in Christ.

Targeting Your Discipleship Programs

Who should we disciple? One philosophy is that we should only work with a chosen few. Train the ones that are willing to show up to the in-depth study group. The most serious problem with that philosophy is its narrow scope. While it is true that everyone will not become a productive disciple, are you willing to accept responsibility for deciding who will?

Youth are at various levels of commitment:

a. Committed to the group, but not to salvation

b. Saved, but on the fringe of involvement

c. Involved in all activities but discipleship group

d. “Totally committed teen” (which are few and far between)

The overall goal is to have discipleship training for youth at every level of commitment. This definitely is a long-rang goal! Here are some steps to reach that goal:

1. Develop some materials for training your teens.

2. Start with a small proto-type group and a short-term timetable. (six – eight weeks)

3. Begin basic training for those who are at a high level commitment.

4. Use some of those from the high level group as leaders for expanding your program to other levels of commitment.

Summary of an Effective Ministry

* It is never accomplished by just one person. Train a team to help!

* It never happens fast. Concentrate on depth. It just takes time!

* It won’t all happen at the church. It takes real life settings!

* It won’t be effective without prayer. Bathe your ministry in prayer!

* It must be people oriented, not program oriented. Focus on the need!

The Ideal Discipleship Program

There is no such animal in existence!! Whenever we think we have it all put together, God will allow someone or something to help us discover we don’t. Do not be afraid to go to the bookstore and pick up some materials on discipleship. Use what you can, trash what you can’t. Just remember….The ideal discipleship program does not exist!

Final Thought… Don’t Make Excuses!

It is easy to excuse getting serious about your youth discipleship program. But one rarely hears a good one. You may say, ” If only I had staff, more money, better buildings, more youth, more mature youth, more education or training, or more committed parents”. None of these are really good reasons for not being serious about youth discipleship. All you need to do is…
Get on your knees and get started!

PS. With God’s help you can overcome any obstacle!

Excerpted from “1988 Youth workers’ Seminar Notebook”. By Greg Bixby.

Posted in AIS File Library, YMGE - Youth Ministry0 Comments


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