iPod Porn + Sons

Social-Oct

Dear GOV,
Please help! I recently found pornography on my son’s iPod touch. His father has talked to him a little bit about pornography before, but I am heartbroken to see it on his iPod. What do I do?

– Heartbroken in Minnesota

Dear Heartbroken,

First of all – this is not the end. Your son is not condemned to a lifetime of pornography use. Pull yourself out of that heartbreak and prepare to have a much-needed conversation with your son.

The unfortunate fact of our day is that pornography has a wide grip on our culture. But the good news is that people are really starting to talk about it, and realizing that it is something that needs to be (and can be) overcome. Your son can absolutely overcome this and come out stronger on the other side.

One of the first steps you need to take is to figure out if this is a recurring pattern, or if it is a one-time occurrence (maybe an accident) or something that has just started. Get this information, then sit down with your husband and figure out what you are going to say to your son. One thing to keep in mind is that every person has a natural curiosity about sex – and this should not be used to make him or her feel ashamed. Shame is the enemy’s territory. So please start your conversation out in a spirit of love and a desire to understand. Let your son talk – don’t overwhelm him with words and feelings of disappointment. You really need to pray before you have this conversation. 

A couple things your conversation should include: 1) We love you. God loves you too. You are not condemned. 2) Porn is something to avoid. It’s harmful and dangerous and we do not want you to use it. 2) Pornography does not give an accurate portrayal of sex. If you are curious about sex or have questions, we will answer your questions and help you understand what God’s design for sex is. 3) Pray for your son. Ask the Lord to break any ties with pornography and to remove the images from his mind. 4) We are going to put practices in place to help you avoid pornography from here on. This is not to punish you or make you feel like you are inferior. It’s to protect you. 5) We love you and God loves you.

After you have an initial conversation with your son, consider going through a resource with him. A couple we recommend are Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle (for boys 10-15) and Tactics for young men 15-30. May the Lord bless you and guide you as your prepare to help your son! 

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Jenner, Gender, and What Parents Can Do

JennerBlender

Parents – there is good news! Amidst the headlines, trending articles, controversy, and hashtags you have an opportunity to equip your kids for the very real issues they may have to face in culture. We don’t have to take Bruce’s advice and “just call me Caitlyn”. Let’s go a step further.

It is evident by so many headlines in our culture today that merely looking good on the outside will not keep sin at bay. Going to church or having 19 kids will not guarantee healthy families. But before we get off-topic, let’s take a look at 3 ways you can use the Bruce Jenner situation to your advantage.

1. Define

The power of a word lies in its definition.

With all the various opinions being expressed, sometimes we are all at risk of losing sight of the original definition of male or female. Words like “gender” get thrown around so much we begin to assume you can choose it like you choose a necklace. That your “sexual orientation” is merely a matter of choice and the results of that choice are no more than a label on a bathroom door.

It says in the beginning that God created man and woman and it was good. Contrary to Facebook, there are not 58 genders to choose from. And actually – gender isn’t a matter of choice. We are created, knit together as either a male or female and God says “It is good.” Use this opportunity to explain words like gender to your young children. Address the classic questions like “Why are boys and girls different?” by giving clear definitions and age-appropriate explanations. A great resource for this is the God’s Design For Sex series which has different books to help you discuss this at various ages. (Bonus: Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book explains how gender is not just a matter of genitalia. Males and females actually have different brain functions. Check it out here.)

2. Affirm
As adults we are well aware of the crazy amount of messages just in advertising telling you “you’re not right”. It is safe to assume that anything that gets this much press and media coverage has multiple agendas backing it up. One of those agendas is to create confusion in our children’s identity. Confusion and lack of self-esteem can be a breeding ground for suicide, drugs, and other high risk behaviors.

During a recent informal survey our team conducted, we found the top lie believed by youth was either “I’m too _______” or “I’m not _______ enough”. When a wave comes through our culture offering true happiness by changing the very fabric of our created being, it is time to get back to truth.

Affirming the gender of our children is such an important part of building their self-esteem. According to Psychology Today, self-esteem will actually drop at various ages throughout our child’s life. However, there is good news:

[Self-esteem’s] existence and utility is inferred through actions and expressions considered evidence of its presence.

Which means you can practically build your child’s self-esteem! As someone who sees your child on a regular basis, use your opportunity to build self-esteem into his/her life. The value your child places in their male or femaleness is one of the contributing factors in them growing into a strong man or woman of God.

This doesn’t have to be awkward or obvious. When you see your sons doing something to be considered “manly”, affirm that. When you find your daughter doing something considered “feminine”, affirm that. These affirmations can be as simple as “You’re such a gentleman!” when you son holds the door for someone else, or “You look beautiful” to your daughter when she’s all dressed and ready for school. For more practical ideas on helping our children survive the gender blender check out Secure Daughters, Confident Sons.

3. Educate
The gender identity crisis is not going away. In fact, just last month the headlines also included this gem: “NHS to give sex change drugs to nine-year-olds”. As parents, your job is not just to bring up your children and protect them from dangerous lies of the enemy, but also to equip them to stand strong for the truth. This education has to go deeper than “because I said so” or “you’ll understand when you’re older”. Now is the time, whether your child is 2 or 12, to step up to the plate. Commit to learn for both of your sakes.

Here are some more excellent resources for parents:

Secure Daughters, Confident Sons
Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage
Why Boys and Girls Are Different
Who Switched Off Your Brain? Solving the Mystery of He Said/She Said

Lastly, the challenge I would leave you with is to help your kids love. People who have identified themselves as transgender (or any other alternative gender) are no less God’s children. Teach your children to be ambassadors of God’s love. Keeping in mind that loving someone does not mean blindly accepting them or having them be alone with your children. But don’t treat them as “less than” just because they are different than you. We all need grace.

-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.

4 Steps To Equip Your Tween Against Bullying

EquipTweenBullying

Recently our team conducted a session for 11-14 year olds and spent a section specifically addressing online bullying. Unfortunately this issue has become even more rampant since the wave of seemingly “consequentless anonymizers” like Snapchat have taken center stage.

In today’s anonymous world youth are encouraged to dissociate themselves with negative behavior and instead cling to their anonymous label that grants them access to the “waves of culture”. Instead of strength of character we see a growing epidemic of mean behavior amongst those that should be brothers and sisters. We’d like to share a few practical steps you can share with your tween to help them in bullying situations.

Step In

Oftentimes adults are somewhat in the dark about how prevalent this issue is in their tween or teen’s world. Step one to combat this is to step in to their world. The easiest way into the world of tweens is by connecting with your child in familiar non-threatening conversations. These conversations can be started with simple questions like “Who is your favorite person at school?” or “Who is the most popular?” Make an effort as these conversations progress to take note of your child’s reactions and responses. Even jot down the names they mention on your phone. It will mean a lot to your child when you are able to follow up and ask how their peers are by name and not just description.

Parents’ reactions to difficult situations will shape the way our kids relate their world to us. Kids often feel that they exist within two or more “worlds” and do their best to maintain a positive atmosphere in all of them. There is the school world, home world, and various game or online worlds that add to this. As a parent you need to be willing to step out into their other worlds. That may mean sitting in on a gaming session, asking for a tour of their Facebook or WhatsApp, or visiting them for lunch at school (if appropriate). Do whatever you need to in order to better understand where they live day to day.

Step Back

Try to always remember the old saying “hurt people hurt people”. It seems simple enough, but it is imperative to remember that the one hurting others is usually trying to cover their own wounds. By jumping into a situation too quickly you can re-victimize the participants and thus get yourself excommunicated from their world quite quickly. Remember to keep your cool in these situations and make a concentrated effort to examine the situation from an unbiased perspective. Lastly, be sure to involve leadership that knows both parties well in the conflict resolution stage.

Step Up

Tweens especially are in a time of transition. Amongst their peers many social roles are established simply by who is willing to step up. Encourage your children in leadership roles that compliment their personality. One of the slogans we use with the teens is “Don’t be afraid – be a friend”. This may be a good memory verse to share with your child if they find themselves involved in a bullying situation where they need to step up:

Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Step Over (not on)

Once I saw a video on a nature channel about a mother bear and her cubs. I vividly remember the look in the mother’s eyes and body language when she realized the camera crew was stepping closer to her cubs. She had been grazing behind them comfortably, but seeing the possible danger she moved to step over her cubs and re-situate herself between them and the camera man. If you notice your child is the target of bullies, don’t be afraid to step between them and the bully to bring balance and protection to the situation.

“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

This definition by Albert Einstein of insanity could easily be applied in this arena as well. We cannot continue moving in the same direction and stay in the same patterns but expect things to change. Sit down with your spouse and then with your tween and figure out as a team what steps you all need to take regarding your specific situation. Step one should always be to our knees in prayer as we seek first the Kingdom.

-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.