The “pornification” of our youth by society at large is rampant. Everything from adolescent fashion to primetime television commercials indicates that the cultural war against innocence is raging. And with the magical little device you hold in the palm of your hand pornography is available on demand 24 hours a day. Our children are especially vulnerable to pressures of the “porn generation.” Just take a look at these statistics compiled by purehope.net:
- 93% of boys and 62% of girls are exposed to Internet porn before the age of 18 (The Nature and Dynamic of Internet Pornography Exposure for Youth by Chiara Sabina, Janis Wolak, and David Finkelhor from Cyber Psychology and Behavior, 2008)
- 11: the average age of first exposure to Internet pornography (Internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/internet-pornography-statistics.html)
- 28% of teens in one study had sent a sext. (Temple J. et al “Teen Sexting and Its Association with Sexual Behaviors” archpediatrics.2012.835)
- A majority of teens (58 percent) don’t think posting photos or other personal info on social networking sites is unsafe. (National teen Internet survey was funded by Cox Communications in partnership with NCMEC and John Walsh and was conducted in March 2007 among 1,070 teens age 13 to 17. The research was conducted online by TRU. http://www.cox.com/TakeCharge/…ocs/survey_results_2007.ppt).
- Only 23 percent of parents have rules about what their kids can do on the computer. (The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Study, March 2005).
Those are some pretty eye opening numbers. So what’s a parent to do? In the midst of this war against innocence how do you guard the mental, spiritual, and physical health of your children? In this two part series we will examine 10 strategies taken from the book Raising Pure Teens by Jason Evert and Chris Stefanick. Here are the first five strategies you can begin to employ today.
“Purity is the fruit of prayer.”
-St Mother Teresa
If you’re like me then making time for prayer can be difficult. Responsibilities at work, projects that need to be completed around the house, and spending time with your family take a majority of your day leaving very little for God. But prayer should be intentional, it should be the highest priority of our day. St. Paul asks the Ephesians to pray at all times and to offer intercession for him and each other “With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones and also for me, that speech may be given me to open my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel” Eph 6:18-19. So if St. Paul need intercession, how much more do our teens? Therefore, pray for them daily. Once a month fast for them. Offer up your suffering for them. Be a witness of prayer and most importantly pray with them.
- Understand their motives.
“Lust indulged became habit, and habit unresisted became necessity.”
In order to combat teens living unchaste lives we need to know and understand what motivates them to do so. Sexual desire, teen boys and girls engage in sexual activity for different reasons. So we need to talk to them about their desires. It is important for them to know that it is perfectly normal and healthy to experience sexual desire. But we must also explain the difference between lust and sexual desire. “Lust is a sinful and selfish desire to use another” while sexual desire “is a biological urge” which can take on moral value. In order to help them deal with their desires make sure the experience love and acceptance at home. Most teens spell love T-I-M-E, so quantity is just as important as quality. Teens also need physical affirmation so don’t stop hugging and kissing them, even if they act like they don’t like it.
- Teach you teen to say “YES.”
Research shows that teenagers base their decisions upon rewards rather than consequences. So they need to see the benefits of a chaste life. In other words, teens need to realize that chastity isn’t about saying “no” to herpes and unwed pregnancy. Chastity is about saying “yes” to authentic love, “yes” to God’s plan for our lives, and “yes” to reaching our full potential.
- Be a parent first and not a buddy.
If you’ve ever heard the words “But everyone else get to….” then rest assured you’re doing a great job as a parent. Your teen has enough friends, what he needs from you is love in the form of discipline. It may be easier and more fun to be their friend but what they need is your authority. One day they’ll thank you, you may have to wait until they have their own children but it will come. Being a parent means protecting them from themselves and their hormones. Make sure that you remain engaged at school activities and monitor their friends.
- Beware of sex education.
“We live in a culture in which condoms can be handed out in schools and Bibles can’t. And I think that tells you everything you need to know about our society.”
-Janet Smith, Contraception, Why Not?
If you’re under the impression that sex education in the classroom exist to help students avoid pregnancy and STDs you would be shocked to learn the truth. SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States), Planned Parenthood, and Advocates for Youth are the dominant forces when it comes to sex education material. SIECUS recommends that 5- to 8-year olds should be taught about masturbation and that 9- to 12-year olds should be instructed about mutual masturbation and oral sex. So what’s a parent to do? Ask to review the curriculum and all material used, including books, recommended Web sites, videos, etc. to ensure they meet the values you teach at home. If it doesn’t meet your standards then don’t hesitate to remove your child from class.
Part two in the series will be published later this week. Like and subscribe so you won’t miss it or any other great content from Catholic Dad.
Evert, J., & Stefanick, C. (2013). Raising Pure Teens: 10 Strategies to Protect (or Restore) Your Teenagers Innocence. Totus Tuus Press