Doing Life Together

ID-100112050For many parents, having conversations with teens about sex  is uncomfortable. Yet, considering how much sexual content and images they are exposed to on a daily basis, they are dealing with sexual thoughts and feelings on a regular basis.  Talking about sex in a sex saturated society is necessary and needs to be an ongoing conversation. Consider these points:

Help teens think through sexual consequences before they are faced with sexual pressure: In talking to teens about sex, it is not only important to provide moral and religious guidance, but to emphasize the consequences and responsibilities of sexual behavior (e.g., pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections). The consequences of good choices should also be discussed as they relate to well-being and future goals.

Help with the intensity of sexual feelings, confusion over identity issues and defining appropriate sexual behavior in relationships should be offered as well. Given our culture, there are confusing voices as to what sexual exploration means, how far is too far and how to handle sexual feelings. Dads should be discussing this with sons especially, as knowing how to manage sexual feelings is learned during the teen and young adult years. Give specific ideas as to how to release pent up sexual energy through sports and other healthy outlets.

Teens should be encouraged to talk and ask questions in an atmosphere that is calm and non-critical. Don’t assume sexual knowledge. Instead determine a teen’s level of knowledge and understanding. Use humor and acknowledge your own discomfort in talking about sexual issues.                                                                                                            Parents often ask if they should share their past sexual exploits with their teens. This is a personal choice that should be made based on the benefit to the teen, not out of parental guilt or a felt need for total disclosure. Another strategy is to talk about the teen’s specific concerns using stories of other teens. Most important is to be an example of good moral behavior, living what you preach and teach.

Because so many teens today are ignorant of biblical directives concerning sexual activity, explain what scripture teaches about sexual thought and behavior, how to overcome temptation and how to counter cultural positions that go against faith. Praise resistance and abstinence. Above all, give unconditional love and keep communication flowing.

Finally, know the risk factors to look for in your teen or young adult. Researchers have documented those teens more at risk for early sexual intercourse and other sexual behavior. Those factors include: early use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; school problems; delinquency; physical aggression, living with a single parent or experiencing parental disruption; having sexually active peers and siblings and sexual abuse. Later onset of sexual activity is correlated with having educated parents; strong family relationships; parental supervision; sexually abstinent peers, good grades in school; and frequent church attendance.




ID-100282345Q: The minute I get my kids in the back seat of the minivan, the ride becomes a ride of horrors! They start picking at each other and fighting. I dread taking them anywhere and feel like they’ve got me because we are usually on a time crunch and need to get to our destination.

A: Even bucket seats do not always prevent kids from picking on each other in the car. There is something about being confined to a small space that can bring out arguing and fighting. You need a plan.

My first idea is to allow an extra ten minutes to get to your destination. Calmly tell the children to stop fighting and wait for them to settle down. Make it known that you will stop the car and wait  until they stop. Then do it. Pull over, sit and wait. This can be very boring. If they start up again when you are back on the road, pull over, sit quietly and wait for them to stop acting out. Eventually, they will see that you mean business. The extra ten minutes (or more) you allow will remove the time crunch.

If you have a TV in the van, take charge of the remote until they quiet down. The remote control is powerful and should be given only if they stop fighting. In addition, any small moment of appropriate behavior between the children needs to be praised. This is important because you are switching your attention to appropriate behavior versus fighting behavior. For kids, parental attention is a powerful reinforcer whether it is negative or positive. Make an effort to attend to the positive–praise when they get along and are enjoyable in the car.

One other solution is to give children a job to do the minute they get in those car seats. For example, hand them a map with the names of the streets you will be passing. Make a game out of finding the streets and yelling them out. Or have them count the number of red cars, specific signs, trucks or any object that will focus and distract them from each other.

If  you need a final incentive, add a reward for pleasant, non fighting car rides. Specifically define “pleasant” as no fighting or arguing. Then sit back and enjoy the ride!

black man workingJeff has been struggling to go to work everyday. He desperately needs his job to pay bills and provide for his family, but this past year, he has grown disenchanted with his work environment. So much so, that he thinks about quitting. He knows he can’t and feels trapped in an unhappy job.

Being unhappy at work, can spill over to family life. Even in a tough economy, no one likes to be in a job that makes him or her unhappy. But happiness on the job may relate to something you never expected—your ability to stay present. Yes, happiness has everything to do with what is going on in your mind.

Think of all the times you find yourself distracted at work–you worry over a deadline, are upset with a co-worker, wonder what you will make for dinner, are mentally scheduling your next dental appointment, etc.  Worry and thinking about the future are distracting. This mental habit can take your focus off the task at hand and create such distraction that you find yourself not engaging in the here and now. And when you are not here and now focused, you risk your happiness.

Harvard researchers discovered that if your mind wanders during work, this could be the source of on-the-job unhappiness. And according to the researchers, our minds wander about 47% of the time anyway.

In the Harvard study that utilized an iPHONE app and received feedback from more than 15,000 people from countries all over the world, mind wandering occurred on the job about 50% of the time.

What the researchers concluded was that we humans spend a great deal of time thinking about things that are not happening in the moment. And apparently, a wandering mind is an unhappy mind–something religious groups have thought to be true for years. We are reminded by Jesus not to worry about tomorrow and to remember that God is with us at every step of our earthly journey.

So if you want to get happy on the job, stay in the moment and let go of worry. Worry is future focused and steals our joy and contributes to job unhappiness.


Urban legend has it that during one of the worst hurricanes in U.S. history, a band of people were partying on the third floor of the Richelieu Manor Apartments in Pass Christian, Mississippi, ground zero for the storm. As the storm approached, feeling invincible and determined to ride out the storm, the apartment dwellers through a party. When a  police officer asked them to evacuate, they refused and continued to party. The storm hit, destroyed the building and they died.

This urban legend is reminiscent of King Belshazzar partying in Daniel 5. Feeling invincible due to his power and accomplishments, in an act of blasphemy, the King used stolen items from the temple in Jerusalem to drink and eat during his orgy. But while the crowd was feasting, fingers of a man’s hand appeared on the wall and wrote something the king could not understand.

When Daniel interpreted the message, it wasn’t good news for the prideful king who mocked Daniel’s God and worshipped idols. Basically, God told the king that his days were numbered, he wasn’t all that powerful and that his kingdom would be divided. The King was killed that night and his kingdom divided. God dealt with the King who willfully mocked and ignored Him.

How often do we ignore God? Like Belshazzar, do we feel invincible, know what is right, but continue to live our own way? “Yes, I know cohabiting is not right, but…” or “I know I shouldn’t gossip, but it is so easy to do.” Or maybe, “I had to lie to protect my reputation.” “A little cheating won’t matter because the government cheats me.”

The handwriting is on the wall. God will expose a heart that is divided-one that serves him only when it is convenient. When God writes His truth on our heart, we need to listen. Our days are numbered. We aren’t as powerful as we think. One day, we answer to God.  If we put our trust in anything other than God, it will fail.  In today’s time, we want to stand firm in the midst of the cultural storm, not giving in to prideful self-reliance, thinking we can live our lives apart from God and be OK.

God is looking for those who can read the handwriting on the wall and put Him first.