Friday, February 1, 2013

Raising Moral Teens

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.

So what can we do?

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.


Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Thanks, Vijaya. Timely topic for our congregation right now. (Of course it is always timely.) Will share this recap. Love the list!

Faith E. Hough said...

That must have been a very interesting talk. I think fostering a relationship of mutual love and respect is the best thing you can do for your teens... A few years ago ;) when I was a teenager, I noticed that the biggest difference between my friends who stayed the course and those who strayed was the level of trust they had in their parents and the trust their parents had in them. Not blind trust, of course, but developed as a result of love and a lot of conversations and experience!
I love the photo--the joy on your faces shines so brightly!

Gary Ludlam said...

I wish we could have been there!
One tip I would add is to be active in your kids' lives. Assistant coach their sports teams. Help them study. Take classes with them. Take them on one-on-one "dates". Have regular family activities. Right now I am assistant coach on both my sons' basketball teams and I am taking a musical theater class with my daughter. It has a great side effect: it keeps you young!
God bless.
Vivat Jesu!
and Happy Presentation!

Vijaya said...

Joyce, I'm glad. And there's lots of great stuff on Chris' site, as well as Jason Evert's.

Faith, it was wonderful to hear a speaker who spoke clearly and appealed to natural law (which is God's law, really). The stats back it up big time. Good observation about fostering trust.

Oh, it was such a happy day to take our vows in the presence of God!

Gary, great tip on being involved -- it builds a relationship, leading to trust. How wonderful you are helping with sports and taking a class with your daughter. It also tells her she's special and worthy of your time and attention.

Bish Denham said...

Beautiful picture! I'd say being consistent is really important, in the big and little things.

Vijaya said...

Oh, yes, Bish! Don't want to give mixed messages to children.

Marcia said...

Love the picture.

Oh, people toss around so many supposed answers to so many societal ills.

The common denominator in so very many cases is sex too young, with the wrong person. But so much of the world seems determined not to see that.

I have to second the idea of involvement in the kids' lives. Really, of nurturing the relationsihp we have with them before we do anything else. Without the relationship, they'll be dubious about anything else we do.