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Sex and our Teen-Aged Children

Why Teen-Agers Engage In Sexual Activity

The world today separates sexuality from the plan of God. Instead of being a vehicle of a married couple's love for each other, it has taken other varied meanings. That is why we hear of pre-marital sex and extra-marital sex. Studies show that teen-agers who engage in sexual activity do so for various reasons. These could be peer pressure, confusing romantic passion for committed love, rebellion, lack of self-esteem, inability to say 'no,' substitute for lack of love at home, ignorance about its immorality and ignorance about consequences.

Wrong Approach

The wrong approach being pushed by our government through their population program is “safe sex education.” It says, “Don't; but if you do, protect yourself through contraception,” immediately followed with the distribution of condoms. In the recent past, a former Secretary of Health popularized his ABC's of 'sex safe': “Abstain, Be Safe, Use Condom.” It was a sarcastic way of demeaning the dignity of persons. Clearly, he implied, human beings were beasts who had no choice but to follow their brutal instincts.

Right Approach

The right approach is chastity. It simply means “Save sex for marriage.” Chastity is not just about controlling sexual urges. Chastity means sex is so good it's worth waiting for; marriage is the right place for it. Chastity does not mean never having sex. Rather, it means keeping sex where it belongs. (Chastity applies to married persons too, who must protect their relationship with their spouse.)

How To Teach Chastity

The first and most important component of teaching chastity is to educate our child on the truth and meaning of human sexuality. This is the firm foundation for all teachings of chastity. This article on sex education is all about setting that platform.

The second component to teaching chastity is the need for parent's example. Words and instruction are needed to spell out the guidelines. However, attitudes and behavior are the silent but more influential instructions teen-aged children ever receive. Parents should be able to say with integrity “Do as I say and do as I do.”

A third component is the development of strength of character. This happens by affirming them in their ability to choose good even in matters not necessarily of chastity. For example, if the child admitted to breaking a flower vase even if he knew he would be scolded, the child should be encouraged for his honesty and courage. If the child refused a stick of marijuana from his classmate even if he would be shut out from the most desired social groups, the child should be affirmed for standing up. This strength of character is developed from the daily challenges of life. Further, a support group of friends with similar Christian values and priorities - like Christian youth camps with its wholesome activities, hobbies, and sports - can strengthen that resolve to choose the good.

Home Environment

A major influence in the teaching of chastity is the home environment. It is here where teen-aged children expect to find security and stability, are loved unconditionally and develop self-esteem. Here are practical ways of providing a good home environment.

Make an effort to see the positive rather than the negative. Praise your teen-ager for things well done, for big and even small achievements, and for just being himself/herself. Be specific and immediate with your praises. Some examples: “That's a nice project you made. Thank you for helping me wash the dishes tonight. Your blouse fits you nicely.”

Forgive their mistakes and ask forgiveness for your mistakes. Remember, no one is perfect!

Give them responsibilities at home that are within their capabilities. Show your expectation that they will fulfill the responsibilities. For example, leave the payment for the water bill with your son and expect him to give it to the collector when he passes for it.

Be considerate and do not be judgmental. For example, if a soil. comes home late from school, do not greet him with an accusation that maybe he went to the mall with his friends. Ask how he is and what happened, and listen to what he says.

Keep communication lines open. Be available to your teen-ager. Giving him your attention will make him feel that he is important to you.

Respect your teen-ager's mood swings. There are days when he wants to talk and days when he just keeps to himself. Remember, we also passed through the same phase when we were their age.

Commit yourself to kindness. Shouting, screaming, yelling, swearing, ridicule and sarcasm are negative communication tools.

Get to know your teen-ager's friends. Invite them to your home and communicate with them too.

Setting House Rules

House rules are important for children; these are the guidelines within which they conduct themselves. For example, it would be very confusing to a child to be told, “Come home early” without telling him what “early” means to you. Try to formulate house rules together with your children, so they feel that the rules are part of them and not merely imposed on them. Keep house rules simple and few, lest you turn your home into a legalistic enterprise. Some examples of house rules on going out are: Be home within the curfew time. Tell us where you are going, who will be there, and what time you expect to be home. In case of an emergency or if you cannot make your curfew, phone home.

Conclusion

Bringing children into the world is a privilege with tremendous responsibilities. Parenting means providing children their bodily and spiritual needs, instructing and guiding them so that they may make full use of all their God-given gifts in accordance with God's plan. God's plan, in the last analysis, is what puts all this together. Remove Him from the picture, no learning, no education - about human sexuality or otherwise - is ever complete. For all the uncertainties and the dangers in life, He is, after all, the only certain Truth and Power from whom everything is borrowed and everyone exists. Know His plan for His children. They are His children anyway; His plan for them must be good. He has spoken through Scriptures and through His Church; no psychoanalyst or government think-tank can ever substitute for Him - Wisdom itself.

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