When a young man strong in his faith read a 2014 Keeping Room article about porn, (click here to review) his response was: “She’s overreacting. Porn is just a normal part of life. It’s everywhere, and in everything.”
When a young woman devoted to Christ and purity recently considered dating a young man, she asked: “When it comes to dating a guy, I’m assuming porn/lust will be something that definitely was/is a struggle, or will happen occasionally. So, what signs do I look for that he’s handling it well?”
When Christian Counseling Today decided to publish their most recent periodical (vol. 22, no. 1, 2017), the entire issue was dedicated to educating Christian counselors on the serious epidemic of porn use.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
1a.Watch out for reactions like the young man’s above. Find out which ways the youth in your life are thinking about porn. Have they fallen for the lies culture has been feeding them:
- Do they think porn is just an acceptable part of sexuality?
- Do they consider it to be innocent and contemporary?
- Do they believe it’s okay in moderation?
- Do they deny its brain-damaging and addictive nature?
- Do they comprehend the spiritual and relational ramifications?
- Do they dismiss the need for accountability if there is temptation?
- Do they fear that it might be considered judgmental or intolerant not to accept someone’s porn usage?
“For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions…men corrupted in mind…who will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all.” (2 Tim. 3:6, 8, 9)
2.Invite and celebrate questions like the one asked by the young woman above. Don’t make the next generation feel ashamed for wondering about porn. They didn’t ask for their world; but they do have to function well in it. An authentic walk is a healthy one. Dialogue with them, inspire them, and teach them Truth until they believe it. And pray for them to find like-minded boyfriends/girlfriends!
“If we walk in the light…the blood of Jesus…cleanses us from all sin.” (1 Jn. 1:7)
3a. After having some conversations, parents may decide their kids are among the many who are at high risk. You may decide you need further protection when it comes to technology. One reputable organization is: Covenant Eyes. You may also want to read: Help! My Kids are Viewing Pornography by Tim Chailles.
3b. Look for the existence of red flags for porn. Loved ones demonstrating a number of these signs may indicate the need for support:
- Increased interest or participation in frequent dating around and pre-marital/extra-marital sex
- Twisted views of sex
- Interest and involvement in sexting & questionable video chatting
- Being secretive
- Sexual activity & symptoms of STD’s
- Damaged relationships
- Inability to have healthy relationships
- Very low self-confidence
- Increased anger
- Turning away from God and His people
3c. Research counseling, groups, and programs designed to help with porn recovery and accountability, specific to gender and age group.
“In an abundance of counselors, there is safety.” (Prov. 11:14)
In last week’s Keeping Room article, it was emphasized that youth need to stop believing lies about adults not being trustworthy, and adults need to do as much as they can to encourage kids to talk to them.
Meanwhile, the Dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, James E. Ryan, has just released a book entitled Wait, What? And Life’s Other Essential Questions. Inside this published commencement address, Ryan proposes a few key questions that he believes significantly increase one’s successes and relationships both personally and professionally. And, one of his questions stands out as being a great one for adults to ask young people…
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
1.When you’re talking to youth, use this question: How Can I help? In fact, before you jump in to problem-solve, give your opinion, or save the day, just ask this question.
2.If you love this “how can I help” question, check out the Wait, What book for the rest of Ryan’s suggested questions. Posing good questions could improve your communication with every person and every situation.
3.James E. Ryan is not the first one to model asking great questions. Consider just a few of the questions Jesus asked:
- Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Mt. 6:27)
- Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Mt. 7:3)
- Why all this commotion and wailing? (Mk. 5:39)
- Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? (Mt. 18:33)
- What are you arguing with them about? (Mk. 9:16)
- Do you believe that I am able to do this? (Mt. 9:28)
- Where is your faith? (Lk. 8:25)
- If I am telling the Truth, why don’t you believe Me? (Jn. 8:46)
- Why question Me? (Jn.18:21)
- Do you love Me? (Jn. 21:17)
Your kids may not have answers to the Jesus-questions just yet. But His questions are great questions to ask yourself at the same time you are asking youth the first question of: How Can I Help?
Grief in teens and kids is felt and processed somewhat differently than for adults. This is okay. Their emotions and cognitions are in developmental progress.
And when youth are grieving the loss of “one of their own,” some of them may attempt to isolate from adults, feeling that their grief is too different to connect through it.
So, what should adults do?
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
1. Teach youth how to grieve well.
- Make sure teens understand that they will move through phases (where they feel emotions of various intensities such as denial, anguish, yearning, guilt, etc.) in a back-and-forth manner until they reach a place of stable acceptance.
- Let them know that each person’s grief can last anywhere from several months to several years, depending on their relationship with the passed loved one.
- Explain how grief can trigger other issues such as unresolved grief from the past, or how grief can ignite a teen’s susceptibility to anxiety and depression.
- Remind them of the importance of taking care of their physical health during the time that their psychological health is strained.
- Model for them good personal grieving by taking refuge in the Lord. It’s okay to let them see you grieve sometimes, but reserve other times to grieve in private. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you know the right amount of transparency for your household. This is so your kids won’t be afraid you’re falling apart.
- For younger children, provide truth to them up to the limit of what they can process. Embrace their love for heaven and cherish their child-like faith; it will do your own soul good.
- Offer unending compassion, always pointing them to Christ as the Answer and Comforter.
2. Validate the private relationship among peers.
- These peers created memories and had feelings for one another that are theirs alone.
- And it may be important for them to feel like they have a personal grief experience that you might not share or relate to, in their opinion.
- They may also have some regrets.
- Consider the role of tangible reminders of their loved one. Pictures, mementos, and gifts in honor of their loved one can play a very important role in the grieving process. It’s important to ask what would be meaningful to them.
3. Temper your expectations.
- They might not “get over it” as quickly as you’d think.
- But they also might “get over it” far quicker than you would expect; their lives are full, busy, and distracting.
- You don’t have to force their journey to be something it’s not. To have a good result, a person can only grieve when s/he is truly ready. And the process really is unique to each individual.
- Don’t talk too much; except to tell them you love them.
- Be approachable, but not overwhelming.
4. Consider how they’re getting their needs met.
- Help them identify which relationships are safe places for being vulnerable, and who is playing what role in their life.
- Try to invite at least one trustworthy person who will ask good questions to get them talking, and who will be speaking Biblical truths into their processing. But don’t be too pushy about this. Let them have a say in the timing and frequency.
- Make sure they are not shamed when they take advantage of the cleansing nature of crying; encourage weeping with weeping. (Rom. 12:15). But also note that not everyone is a crier.
- Incorporate art and music to help express what’s hard to verbalize and to reduce stress.
5. Be full of grace when it comes to those emotions.
- There may be moodiness, lashing out, disrespect, and tears. Sometimes these outbursts will have everything to do with the loss. And sometimes they will have nothing to do with it. Don’t assume you know, and don’t accuse your kids of acting out grief. Sometimes an emotional reaction is an opportunity to give them space; other times it’s a chance to ask an open-ended question, which can help express the feelings behind the episode. Pray on the spot to help you decide which it is.
- Emotional maturity – and therefore grieving maturity – takes effort, practice, and time.
- Nurture the heart, and better behavior will follow in time.
- Resume routine activities even if it means going through the motions at first. The structure is beneficial.
6. Be open to other means of support.
- There are certain losses that fall in the category of Complex Mourning and may require professional involvement for a time.
- Monitor how well a young griever is functioning, to determine if outside help is warranted.
- Grief can be really hard. And some youth struggle to do it without structured, skilled guidance.
7. Pray very specifically for their grief journey.
- Remember in your prayers – that when faced with death- there is significant ambiguity for a young person to comprehend (God ordains suffering at the same time that He is very good). And this paradox takes place in a world that tries to convince them that things are “all or nothing” (“God must be cruel to allow such suffering”). Such depth of Biblical understanding will come from the Lord’s opening of their eyes.
- Intercede using spiritual weapons against lies, poor coping, worldliness, and negative influences. And make bold requests on their behalf, such as asking for eternal perspective and a life of humble service.
- Let your kids know you are caring for them through your prayers.
He restores comfort to His mourners, and gives His tender touch to the young. (Is. 57:18, Mk. 10:13)
The most important thing the world needs is Jesus, of course. But do you know what #2 is? It’s boys who grow up to become successful men. And no, the promoting of men is not a disadvantage to girls. And no, this country is not doing a good job of making men anymore. But you already knew that. What you need now is data and solutions.
Dr. Leonard Sax is a family physician and psychologist who has spent his career focused on modern culture’s negative impacts on boys and girls. In his revised edition of “Boys Adrift, the Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men,” Dr. Sax shares his experience with the ways society is failing boys, and what you can do to help recover them:
Factor One: Changes at School
- The pace of education has accelerated. Girls can keep up because they are usually motivated to please the teachers; boys don’t share that motivation.
- The style of education has become more didactic. Boys need experiential, multi-sensory interaction with what they are learning.
- When boys lose interest – they stop paying attention and they stop trying. They conclude school is not the place for them.
- Sports and competition have changed too. What impacts a girl’s well-being is not the same for boys. Boys need clearly defined winners and losers.
Be creative, and work with other parents to bring ideas to your school to make it more boy-friendly. Groups of positive, proactive parents can influence a school to offer “in bounds” policies for instance. Such as, they don’t have to let boys play dodge ball where others who don’t want to play could get hurt (out of bounds); but instead allow it on the football field (in bounds). Parents can sign a waiver so the school won’t be held liable, helping to convince schools not to ban it completely. Also, in the areas of teaching style and assessment, there are many changes you could encourage your child’s school to implement in the favor of boys, especially if you’re willing to join them to make it possible. Some parents have changed schools or even move to a new school district when they have discovered their son’s school is resistant to becoming more male-friendly.
Factor Two: Video Games
- Where some boys may feel like aliens or failures in school these days, they can feel right at home in video games.
- They quickly learn that they can become a hero in the virtual world. And this can lead to inordinate amounts of time spent in front of a screen.
As parents, you don’t have to allow your child to play certain video games that you have determined have more consequences than benefits. You have more insight than your son does and possibly more information than his classmates’ parents do, so you may have to be the only one (or at least the first one) who does the limiting of screen time. Get them outside having the kind of adventure that boys were made to have, and allow time for their brains and souls to get back on track.
Factor Three: Medications for ADHD
- Along with the high numbers of children diagnosed with ADHD today, doctors are quick to say “let’s give medicine a try.” However, there are at least two important findings regarding ADHD medications parents need to know.
- First, medications for ADHD can result in behavior modifications in a child who does not have ADHD just as much as in a child who does.
- Additionally, these medications have been shown to lower a child’s ambition.
Make sure your child actually meets all of the criteria for ADHD, and review all the other factors that may be contributing to your son’s struggles before you consider medical treatment. Then, if clinical intervention still becomes necessary, Dr. Sax recommends non-stimulant alternatives first. (Another option is to research Amen Clinic or similar approaches that utilize diet and natural supplements.)
Factor Four: Endocrine Disruptors
- Studies continue to demonstrate how chemicals found in plastics can act like sex hormones producing damaging results on child health and development.
- Plastics are also linked to increases in ADHD symptoms.
Avoid plastic. Give young boys water and milk in glass bottles or steel canteens. Don’t reheat food in the microwave in a plastic container.
Factor Five: Social Norms
- It’s not cool for boys to admit they like to learn.
- It’s no longer honorable for boys to admit they don’t want to be involved with porn.
- It’s not politically correct for men to admit they need a good woman to keep them motivated.
- If boys in a society with these standards are not trained by thriving older men, they will not turn out well.
Boys need to spend time with and look up to modest, honorable men. Joining a community of like-minded parents is a good place to start. Dr. Sax shares several stories of how you can create a very strong parent network that supports raising children to be motivated, successful boys (and girls). In addition, he has written several other books, including “Girls on the Edge” with more ideas to combat this modern dilemma parents are facing. (Perimeter School in Johns Creek, Georgia is one such strong and committed group of parents (and students) that follows a covenant community model of raising and encouraging productive young men and women.)
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
- Consider reading this book or other works by Dr. Sax for much more detail on the above factors.
- Using the books of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus, create a home and parenting philosophy to guide you in raising sons.
- Pray for your sons according to every detail of this post, especially for the Lord to bring like-minded parents into your life to form an alliance against strong cultural forces in the lives of the next generation. (There are parenting communities who are so tight-knit that all the influencing “dads” become groomsmen at their weddings, boys are receiving multiple godfathers, and boys-only birthday parties involve a lot of men, sweat, and dirt). Do what it takes in these times.
- Don’t just read the stories of Moses, Elijah, Daniel, David, Jesus, etc. to boys. Encourage them to get outside and reenact those stories, and live like those real men.
“Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” (Titus 2:15)
Parents have a job not to let their kids grow up to be spoiled brats, but often, it seems like good parenting creates significant tension in the relationship with teens (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21). In fact, this can happen if you find yourself in the following scenarios:
1) You snatch away their cell phone because you are concerned about their device usage or because you’re upset over something they have done. Your concern is valid, but this approach is usually not that effective in soliciting good technology-use or a new attitude.
2) You talk at your kids instead of with them because you are the person of authority. Your position is true, but using that power won’t invite open dialogue with adolescents.
3) You know the Gospel, but you don’t know how to use it with teens. You have so much to worry about in this modern world it’s understandable that you’d focus on their behavior, but the Gospel starts with the heart.
Keeping Room Tips: The following tips have the goal of parenting teens with a focus on having a close relationship with them.
1) Relational Correction
Biblical Starting Point: Be gentle when you instruct and admonish. Teach in such a way that you inspire personal responsibility. (Deut. 32:2; Prov. 15:1; Gal. 6:1; Eph. 4:1-3; 1 Tim. 6:11; Titus 3:2)
Try this Experiment: Promise them that no matter what they do, you won’t take away their phone. Notice if you see a reduction in defensiveness or anxiety, more of a willingness to have proper boundaries with technology, and new signs of respect towards you.
2) Relational Communication
Biblical Starting Point: If you expect grown-up responsibility and maturity from your teens, it’s not fair to talk to them like children. Your adolescent may seem stubborn, irrational, or emotional much of the time, but there is a growing soul inside that needs to be respectfully heard so that it can soar. (Ruth 1:15-18; 2 Kings 22:1; Luke 2:49-51; 1 Tim. 4:12)
Try this Experiment: Ask your teen how you can react better when he/she has something to say. Be prepared for a lot of feedback!
3) Relational Gospel
Biblical Starting Point: Thanks to sin, everyone becomes forgetful of what Jesus did that humans cannot. And thanks to sin, parents can become shocked by their kids’ behavior. But you shouldn’t be. Teens are sinners who need a Savior – not sinners who just need to straighten up. (Rom. 3:23; 5:8; 5:18; 7:19; 8:1; 2 Cor. 5:21)
Try this Experiment: View the adolescent years as a journey, not a performance. Look for God to be at work in your teen’s life and pray and praise Him along the way. Be more of a mentor than a parole officer in your relationship with your kid and notice how your bond grows stronger and closer. Make your highest priority every day to joyfully…lovingly…calmly lead your teen towards the Savior and let the sovereign God take care of the rest.
If a child in your life is going away to camp this summer, or perhaps to another country for a mission trip, you may feel worried at times and wish you knew the most comforting, power-filled ways to pray. And maybe you’re also quite busy yourself and wish you had a convenient resource to help make prayer easier on the fly. Finally, some of you are preparing to send a child to boot camp or college for the first time and while your heart is already full of prayers, you might be looking for new ideas for applying Scripture to your requests. If any of these apply to you, the following is a guide to help you.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
God, thank You for the comfort of knowing You have engraved (__________) on the palm of Your hands. (Is. 49:16)
I praise You that You never sleep; but always watch Your children. And You’ve even gone before (__________) to this place. (Deut. 31:8; Ps. 121:3)
As well as I know this child, Father, You are perfectly acquainted with and watchful of (__________’s) ways. (Ps. 139:3)
Help (_____________) to be outwardly focused and not self-absorbed during this time away. (Heb. 13:16; Phil. 2:4)
Lord, give (_____________) discernment to see harmful teachings, lifestyles and activities while away from my instruction. Provide strength to live for Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5)
Father, use this time away to grow (______________) in ways that I cannot bring about at home. (Lk. 1:80)
Jesus, show Yourself in deep, real ways to (_____________) so that there is a new personal dependency on You from now on. (Mt. 6:25-34)
I ask that You would destroy any strongholds on (_____________’s) life and bring about irresistible freedom and joy for Your glory. (2 Cor. 10:4; Gal. 5:1; 22)
Shine your light through (__________) and then equip (_____________) to lead new acquaintances and friends closer to You. (Phil. 2:15; 1 Pet. 3:15)
God, may this time (__________) is away be according to Your will and not mine, at whatever cost to my personal comfort. As such, may all of my family be mission-focused in all things, in all places. (Ps. 143:10; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Pet. 3:14)
Finally, my great God, may this event bless (_____________) with relationships and fulfillment far more than I could even ask, think, or imagine according to Your power at work within! (John 10:10; Eph. 3:20)