SEX ED FOR SINGLE MOMS

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I recently received this testimony about Passport 2 Purity (P2P) from a mom who attended one of my parenting sessions. It was so good I had to share! I sincerely admire this mom who is determined to share the truth with her son, despite the difficulties of being a single mom. Way to go, mom!

I came across the P2P kit when I attended a Generations of Virtue parenting talk in March 2014.  As a single mom, I was fretting about how to have The Conversation with my son (then 14 years old), and thought that P2P would be a good tool.

When I opened the kit, I was overwhelmed by the planning and preparation that was required! I thought to myself – “it’s too much work.  I don’t think I can find a suitable destination or a fun activity that would fit the purpose.”

Nonetheless, I took time to read through the notes not once, not twice, but several times – digesting it, thinking about it.  Specifically, I prayed to God to help me plan for this, to show me how to do this, and to prepare our hearts for this.  Slowly, a plan took form.

I decided not to follow strictly to the schedule recommended.  Instead, I planned it into our family vacation to Gold Coast, Australia in June 2014.  It was significant as it was the first time he and I were going on a vacation, just the two of us. Until then, vacations were always with friends or the extended family. It was also his 14th birthday present.

I gathered the materials needed for the activities and packed them into the luggage, without him knowing.  The audio tracks were downloaded into my phone for easy playback, along with headphones.

We did our first session on the flight out to Gold Coast.  The rest of sessions in the evenings were spread out over the next six days – usually in the evenings, when we are back from the day’s activities.  Being away really helped as it took us away from our daily routines and distractions.  Both of us were relaxed, enjoying ourselves tremendously and not worrying about chores/schoolwork.

There were some awkward moments (at least for me), when instructions were given to “talk with your dad” and during topics of physical changes/masturbation.  However, these moments passed quickly.  The main benefit of P2P was that it provided a clear, structured framework to discuss the various issues relating to puberty, sexual purity and dating.  The questions provided a great start to otherwise awkward conversations.

At the end of it, it was not just my son who benefited from it.  I too gained a deeper understanding of my teenage son. I feel P2P has also brought us closer. My son is not shy to come to me with issues or concerns he is having about his growing up, how he relates to his peers, even how to start a conversation with a girl!

 In fact, I’m planning to do a “refresher” course with him this year, focusing on setting boundaries, and dating. 

Julie Hiramine

Julie Hiramine is a mom, author, and the founder and executive director of the ministry Generations of Virtue. As an internationally noted speaker, she has ministered in many nations to thousands of parents, teens, and young people. Julie believes the key to turning the tide of an immoral culture is to equip parents to empower their children to be pure.

One of Julie’s main inspirations (besides the Lord’s calling, of course!) is her own children. In fact, the ministry of Generations of Virtue came about largely through Julie’s prayers for a strategy she could use with her own children. Julie and Kay have 5 children, whom they have homeschooled and taken along on numerous ministry trips around the U.S. and overseas. When not ministering, one of Kay and Julie’s favorite activities is cooking gourmet meals (much to the delight of the Generations of Virtue team). The Hiramine family lives in Colorado and western New York when they are not on the road.

4 Things to Keep Your Teen Safe during Party Season

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When I was a teenager, my parents told me “It’s not that we don’t trust you, it’s that we don’t trust everyone else” whenever they put some kind of curfew or driving moratorium on me. This happened like clockwork on certain nights of the year: New Year’s, 4th of July, Christmas Eve. They were serious about those curfews! They didn’t want me out on the road late on a public holiday. And with good reason: Drunk drivers usually owned the roads on those nights.

At the time, I felt their curfews and rules were lame. Really, really lame. But now that I am older, I see the love and care behind their rules and all their concern.

My parents were very strategic in talking to me about what I would be doing, how to respond in certain situations, and what to do if ever I found myself in trouble. In light of end-of-school-year-party-season, I’d like to share some of the conversation points to use as your own teenagers head off to parties or friends’ houses:

First, start with some questions:

  1. Where are you going? (It’s ok to ask for an address of a friend’s house, the name of the restaurant, etc. Have your teen tell you all the details.)
  2. When are you leaving and when do you plan on being back? (Obviously if you have set a curfew for the night, you will need to communicate this very clearly).
  3. How are you getting there and getting home? Will you be driving to different locations? If so, who will be driving? (This was my parents’ FAVORITE question. Sigh)
  4. Who is going to be with you?
  5. What will you be doing?
  6. Do you have any concerns about the evening?

Secondly, set some guidelines for how your teen can respond if a situation takes him/her by surprise. Some strategies to go over include:

  • What to do if alcohol is involved
  • What to do if you feel unsafe when someone else is driving
  • How to suggest different activities if the ones offered are inappropriate or make you feel uncomfortable
  • What to do if someone pushes your physical boundaries (This, hopefully, has been preceded by a discussion about what your teen’s physical boundaries are. If this discussion hasn’t taken place yet, Mom and Dad, there’s no time like the present.)
  • Have an escape plan (This is a good time to tell your son/daughter if they ever need you to come get them, you will.)

Thirdly, set some clear expectations about what you require your teen to do. You might consider the following (again, taking a cue from my parents):

  • I expect you to call or text me when you arrive at the party, letting me know you got there safely
  • Please communicate any change of plans with me
  • Please provide the mobile number of a friend or parent who will be with you, just in case something happens to your phone
  • Please send me an all’s well text a couple hours after you get there
  • Don’t be afraid to tell me something is wrong. I’d rather you call me over a false alarm than feel like you can’t call and get into a dangerous situation.
  • Let me know when you are on your way home

*I should note that my parents threatened to show up at the party if I failed to tell them I arrived safely, or if I didn’t send the all’s well text halfway through, etc. That threat alone helped me to remember all the steps!

Finally, pray for your teen before he or she heads off. Ask for God’s protection and for a really good, positive time. Remind your teens that sometimes situations come up where you have to be the “odd one out” and do something different than everyone else. It’s ok, really. They might feel ashamed or uncomfortable if they have to do something like that, but they’ll be glad they did later. Let your son or daughter know that you trust him/her to make the right decisions. Your confidence in your children will communicate a lot to them and could potentially give them the courage and motivation needed to make a good choice in a sticky situation.

– Megan Briggs

Megan joined the Generations of Virtue team to become the Product Manager, a position which keeps her busy researching, reading resources, managing inventory and speaking to young people.

Sexual Abuse and the Luxury of Choice

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A thought began to unfold in my mind while I was in prayer one day. A troubling thought that has caused me many tears over the last few weeks. First, some background: I am currently in southeast Asia, speaking to parents, teens, and young people about issues of purity and sexuality. To say I talk about sex a lot is an understatement. I have spent a decent amount of time in southeast Asia and have gotten a glimpse of the different lifestyles, religious practices, and mindsets prevalent in this region. Perhaps it is the nature of the ministry work I am involved in, but one thing in particular sticks out to me about this region: there is a lot of sexual abuse. Some people are even sold into slavery and abused to death. It happens more than anyone likes to admit or fully grapple with. I know this is not news to anyone.

And I know it is not just this region that struggles with this problem. More and more, the books I read on the subject of purity coming from the States include pieces about sexual abuse – how to overcome the shame of it, what to do if it is currently going on, etc. Obviously this a problem that is increasing and people are looking for answers to prevent it and overcome the damage it inflicts. Let’s just say it’s a big deal. Because it is. I hope you don’t know the pain of sexual abuse, but I know that if you are living and breathing in our day and age, if you yourself have not been sexually abused, you know someone who has. This is a reality of our time.

So back to my prayer time the other day. The thought that came was something along these lines (it kind of formulated into a more coherent thought as the day progressed and more insight came in waves): There are so many people in the world who do not have a choice about when, how, and with whom they will experience sex. Their choice has been taken from them. And they were robbed of an experience that, by God’s good and perfect design, is supposed to be beautiful and consensual and pure. (Yes, if that last word threw you, I said pure. Sex is supposed to be pure and holy and good.) What an abused person wouldn’t give to have that choice back

Alternatively, you have those who seem to despise the gift God has given us in sexuality according to His design and willingly give things like virginity away as if they could not get rid of it fast enough.

Now please don’t get me wrong: I am not saying being a virgin on your wedding day is the be-all, end-all mark of a pure person. What I am saying is that people in developed, “freedom-of-choice” nations (such as America) are treating God’s gift of sexuality as a light thing. They don’t respect it at all. And whether they realize it or not, they are perpetuating the justification of sexual abuse against other people. (Because sex isn’t that big of a deal, right? And looking at pornography only involves you, right?) Simply put: sometimes the people who have the luxury of choice when it comes to sex treat it lightly and, therefore, abuse it.

I can only imagine how this must grieve God’s heart. Here He has generously given us the gift of sex and we royally misuse it. What’s worse, not only does using sex outside of God’s guidelines hurt us physically, emotionally and spiritually, but we miss out on the unmatched blessing of sex according to God’s design. That thought alone should make us want to weep. This is a simple and inferior analogy, but bear with me: It’s like settling for a temporary supply of strawberry-flavored candy when you could have had a lifetime supply of real strawberries instead.

When I think about what youth (and adults) do in the States – the predicaments they get themselves into drinking and partying and putting themselves in dangerous situations, what influences they open themselves up to through media and technology – I want to throw up. And then tell them how naïve and selfish they’re being. I realize this is not the best tactic to turn them away from this lifestyle, but this is my knee-jerk reaction.

The day I had this thought I was standing in a worship service in Singapore. Suddenly a wave of sadness and desperation fell upon me. I wept before the Lord. For several hours, I couldn’t stop crying. I felt what I can only imagine was a severely toned-down version of the sadness He feels over this situation. The verse came to mind from Ezekiel:

“And you are different [the reverse] from other women in your harlotries, in that nobody follows you to lure you into harlotry and in that you give hire when no hire is given you; and so you are different.” (16:34, AMP)

In the “free world”, you don’t need to kidnap us or drug us or lure us by promises of job opportunities or better circumstances to get us to enter into a lifestyle of impurity. You don’t even have to pay us – in fact, we’ll pay you.

If I had to paraphrase that verse from Ezekiel and put it in modern context, that’s how I would word it. And I’m sorry to say it applies all too well. It doesn’t just apply to American culture, either, but American culture is the top one that is exported around the world. It is the most visible and, for better or worse, the most influential. I love America. I really do. I’m proud to be an American, but we have got some serious repenting and changing to do. We have got to stop being so selfish.

So, what can we do? Where do we start? I’d like to propose we start treating our sexuality with the God-given respect and care it deserves. We should come before the Lord, asking Him to show us where we need to repent. Where have we been influenced by the lie that sex isn’t worth that much or sex outside of God’s design is just as good as the real thing? We should get to the root of these issues and ask God to show us what to do from there.

If we are serious about helping other people who have been sexually abused or trafficked, we have got to deal with our own attitudes toward sex.

– Megan Briggs

Megan joined the Generations of Virtue team to become the Product Manager, a position which keeps her busy researching, reading resources, managing inventory and speaking to young people.

 

The Day My Son Saw a Naked Woman

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Ughhhhhhhh. I want to scream out in frustration!

My son came to me today while he was online (he’s learning to make websites, which is great and he loves it) and said he had seen an inappropriate picture. He closed the tab and came to get me. Phew. That’s the good news…and I’ll go back to that in a minute.

The terrible news is that I went into the history and looked at where he had been. He had been searching for an image of cardboard armor and had then stumbled onto an adult dating site. Well, the homepage for this site is a nude woman. Standing there with no clothes on, inviting you to try this site. I am SO sad for this. I am sad and disgusted that the first naked woman he’s seeing is a girl he will never meet in real life, and certainly not someone he will be romantically involved with. I am screaming inside. I’m so upset about it.

But….as I’ve had some time to think about it, I’m more angry. Angry that we live in a world that makes it nearly impossible to guard our children’s innocence. Certainly we can and need to be taking measures and steps to protect our kids on the internet with internet safety programs, blocking adult content, etc. But in the end, it is not a matter of IF, it’s a matter of WHEN.

Sigh, even as I’m writing this, I’m blaming myself. If we would just have had better security, maybe that wouldn’t have happened. And then I feel pity, my poor precious son, being exposed to something that he should never have seen. I feel discouraged and so, so sad.

But wait…..really, wait!!! I have to stop feeling like this and focus on something else- his response to it. This isn’t the first time he’s come to us saying he saw something inappropriate. The other times it’s happened, the pictures haven’t been so graphic, and as far as I know, this was the first totally nude photo. But he shut the tab and came right to me and told me. This is all I could ask for.

This has been a long, ongoing conversation we’ve been having with him and our other boys since they were young. We’ve told that girls are precious and their bodies are something private. We’ve talked to them about their own private areas and why it’s important to keep them private, and what to do if someone violates that privacy. I know we need to continue having conversations, ones that will be more intense as they get older.

So, in a way,  I feel like we’ve prepared him for this moment. I’m just disgusted that we have to do that. Coming face to face with it isn’t fun at all. But I feel like my choice is to despair and just be upset. OR…..I can keep the conversation going with him. His dad is going to talk with him when he gets home from work tonight. I think his dad can ask him questions that maybe would be embarrassing for me to ask him….

I think I have to believe that nothing was ruined today. We’ve only just stepped in to an extremely intense, very real battle that was already raging. To think that my kids would be the ones who would somehow manage to escape the horrendously high statistics of children exposed to pornography, would be ignorant and untrue.

My kids will face this challenge and my hope and prayer is that they can do it armed with the right tools to be able to face it with honor and respect for women, and a desire to fight against lust and a lifetime of bondage to pornography.

I know it’s possible. I don’t like it and I wish we didn’t have to go through this, but I’d rather walk right beside my kids and get in the mud with them, than pretend it didn’t happen.

Below I’ve listed some of the books Generations of Virtue carries that address this issue of pornography and how to prepare boys for it. Some of these we’ve done already with our boys, and some we are going to do in the future, as they grow up:

Lintball Leo’s Not-So-Stupid Questions about Your Body (ages 9-13) 

Teknon and the CHAMPION Warriors (ages 9-13)

Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle (ages 10-14)

The Ultimate Guys’ Body Book (ages 12-15) 

Passport 2 Purity (ages 10-13) 

For God’s Kingdom, and for His Glory.

– Annie Anderson

Author: Annie Anderson

Annie is the warehouse manager for Generations of Virtue and a mother of 5. When she’s not helping web customers or packing book orders, Annie homeschools her kids, hangs out at the hockey rink, and serves at her Mops group. A dedicated mother, Annie loves being surprised by the joy that comes from having children and raising them to love the Lord.

Facebook Alternatives

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The popular opinion is that EVERYONE is on Facebook. Even my grandma has a Facebook. But you know who doesn’t? Your kids.

Up until a few years ago Facebook was basically a societal rite of passage for teenagers. It was the go-to platform to connect, like, and share life with friends. Then came the major influx of parents and teachers getting on Facebook. After a few too many scandals, vague book posts gone viral, and incriminating photos, kids threw out Facebook and ran to other social networks that offered more “control”. Ready in the wings was the popular photo-sharing app Snapchat which “deletes” a photo 10 seconds after the recipient sees it. Following close behind were a few other messaging and anonymiz-ing apps, and before we knew it kids had evacuated Facebook. Yet somehow they are more connected than ever.

The concern with these apps is not so much their ability to connect our kids to the big wide world, but the intention for which these apps were created in the first place. Snapchat was created to be “consequentless”. Apps like Whisper were created to replace God and offer people a place to confess their dark secrets without any judgment. Most of these apps glorify the YOLO (you only live once) lifestyle and encourage people to engage in dangerous behavior because “no one will ever know”. Parents, you know the truth. God is not mocked, and we will have to give account of every word we speak (and picture we take) some day. First, I encourage you to get educated on what’s really going on. Then formulate a plan to work with your child or teen to help them navigate the world of social networking.

Instead of re-inventing the wheel, Generations of Virtue would like to highlight a popular article by Common Sense Media and encourage you to read through it for valuable information on the social networks your kids ARE using.

15 Apps and Websites Kids Are Heading to After Facebook

– Courtney Alberson

Author: Courtney Alberson

Courtney is Generation of Virtue’s lead solutions specialist. Which is a fancy way of saying she handles the team’s many IT needs and spends a lot of time in Photoshop. When she’s not finding solutions to problems, Courtney enjoys communicating God’s truth about love and relationships to teenagers and…drinking coffee.

The Roots of Your Child’s Tech Problems

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Some of the most asked questions our Generations of Virtue team receives during Q&A after a parenting session are “How do I stop my son from playing video games so much?”, “How do I get my daughter off her smartphone?” or “I found my teen looking at pornography, how can I stop this?”.  Quite often parents are looking for a quick fix for the challenge they are facing with their teen.  After years of talking to parents about technology and their kids, I would say that the answer lies much deeper than the latest computer software, monitoring app or tricks to control their behavior. Technology is here to stay in our lives.  Unfortunately for parents, their kids are probably going to be much keener than they are to figure out how to work devices and get around any unwanted barriers.  This is a natural by-product of them never having known the world to exist without rapidly advancing technology.  So what is the answer to healthy technology use and keeping your kids safe online?

Relationship and communication.

Yes, the core of most misuse of technology by teens can be traced back to emotional needs, lack of communication and the absence of real relationships.

Why would a girl always be on her smart phone?  What kind of approval is she receiving from the online world that she doesn’t feel she is getting in real life? Is she constantly on social media because it makes her feel beautiful when she posts a selfie and gets 100 likes?

Parents can counter this with healthy positive affirmation and finding ways to build her self confidence in everyday life. A simple “You are beautiful” spoken by mom or dad can open the door to change. When these words are spoken in earnest and backed by other things like spending time with her, standing up for her when someone puts her down, helping her with her academics or sports, and encouraging her to pursue God’s calling on her life, some major change can happen.

Why does your son play video games for hours on end?  Does he feel accomplished and like a hero within his game in a way he doesn’t feel in real life?  Does he feel he is able to conquer worlds and receive accolades for his actions? Is this where he hangs out with his friends and has deep relationships centered around a common goal?

Counter this with giving your son opportunities to succeed in areas he is interested in real life, not just virtual.  Get involved with his games, ask him to show you the most enjoyable part for him. Show interest in what interests him. This will give you a clue as to what is being satisfied within gaming, which you can then use to find similar real-life activities that will give him the same feeling of satisfaction. Chances are that if your son is 15 and loves games, it will always be something he loves.  You will need to help him include other avenues of interest outside of gaming to be a well-rounded individual as he matures.

What leads to teens looking at pornography?  Quite often curiosity or stumbling upon it accidentally.  They heard something they didn’t understand so they Googled it, a page popped up during research of something else – the initial stages can be quite innocent in nature. However, what the enemy can keep hidden in darkness can become a stronghold that is difficult for your teen to get out of.  How can you help your teen in this area? Communicate, talk about it, tell them the dangers, tell them what to watch out for, have conversations on a consistent basis and start young. Yes, for young children filtering software is a good idea and monitoring for older, but you MUST have these conversations because your child WILL accidentally see pornography at some point, and at that moment it will be your conversations that help them decide what to do with it.

Don’t use rules and regulations as medication to treat a symptom of unhealthy technology use. Instead, find the source of the pain and work toward healing of a whole person.

– Sara Raley

Author: Sara Raley

As the COO and one of the founding team members of Generations of Virtue, Sara oversees all of the tasks and details for the team. When Sara is not adding meetings to the calendar, sending emails, or finding new apps to make her life easier, she enjoys honing her race-car like driving skills and speaking to youth about following God on a grand adventure.

The Girl with Short Hair

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We had just finished a session at a local Christian “college” in Melbourne Australia. (The colleges there are the equivalent of the high schools in the States.) At this event we also had students all the way down to grade 5. Our session was all about lies in culture and how they can be combatted with the truth of God’s word.

Sometimes after we speak we have the privilege of interacting with the kids and hearing their stories (and taking selfies, of course). I was approached after this session by a young girl (probably 12 years old) with short hair. She mentioned that she really liked my hair (also short). I replied that hers was very cute. She explained that sometimes people thought she looked like a boy. My heart broke for this precious sister. In that moment I replied “You don’t look like a boy. You are BEAUTIFUL and feminine!” She got tears in her eyes and then hugged me before running off.

Kids in today’s culture are bombarded by so many messages that they are “not right”. How can we expect them to take a stand on important issues like sexuality when they are already overwhelmed just trying to be themselves? Purity is a holistic topic and it is a privilege for me to be able to minister to kids in body, soul, and spirit. Sometimes they need a verse, sometimes words of affirmation, and sometimes just a hug and sprinkling of truth into their world.

– Courtney Alberson

Author: Courtney Alberson

Courtney is Generation of Virtue’s lead solutions specialist. Which is a fancy way of saying she handles the team’s many IT needs and spends a lot of time in Photoshop. When she’s not finding solutions to problems, Courtney enjoys communicating God’s truth about love and relationships to teenagers and…drinking coffee.