Last night we had the opportunity to hear a talk about raising moral teens by Chris Stefanick. If he's anywhere near your area, don't miss out. We already have one of his CDs and I'm looking forward to his new one on moral relativism, which is really what we're fighting in our culture, as though there are no absolute truths.
But I digress. I want to give you some of the same hope that Chris gave us. As parents we do worry about the opposing influences of the very loud culture we live in, but Chris said a brook can also be very noisy. But the Mississippi runs deep and quiet, so trust that what you teach your children will run deeply in their hearts and resonate.
And what resonates with teens is authentic love. Love that doesn't say, "I want you," but love that says, "I want what is best for you." This is the heart of chastity. It's not just saying no to premarital sex and surging hormones, but chastity and purity is about controlling desire and putting it in its proper context (marriage) and saying yes to their dignity and the love they were made for.
All the statistics (I'm sorry I didn't take notes, but I only grabbed my jacket on my way out) show that kids who engage premarital sex are more depressed, earn consistently less money (the number 15% sticks out), get sexually transmitted diseases that have a whole host of other side-effects including infertility, and if they do get married, end up divorced (50% higher rate). This one choice can affect so many areas in their lives, it is madness not to teach our children to wait to have sex until they marry.
Love unconditionally (love them always, no matter what they do, even if they hurt you).
Model authentic love ourselves (we are our children's first teachers and from the moment they are born, they are watching us).
Protect our children (the biggest threat is not from people on the street, but what comes into your home via television and the Internet).
Expect greatness (some of the most courageous and passionate saints were teens).
Talk to them (sex-education is one area where everybody ought to home school).
And never give up hope (because Truth, Goodness, & Beauty is on our side).
Do you have some tips to share? Please do.
This is a picture taken after receiving our Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, fifteen years after we took our wedding vows. We didn't do things in the right order, and I'm always thankful God doesn't give us what we deserve, rather pours out His love and grace and mercy upon us.