Today’s teens live in a hyper-sexualized world that most parents can’t fully comprehend. Even for teens who don’t watch porn or aren’t having sex, the air around them is super-charged with sexual imagery, drama, and messaging that falls far outside of God-honoring sexuality. Many teens today are internalizing a destructive, toxic view of sexuality and most parents are oblivious.
If you could see the airwaves streaming over Netflix, cable television, internet routers, and free wi-fi, I believe you’d be shocked at the amount of sex, sexual situations, and various forms of sexual ideology they contain. Add to that all that is coming through the devices of your teen’s friends. Add to that the talk at lunch tables, sleep-overs, parties, and other places teens gather.
Sexual encounters, or even hearing of the exploits of others, can leave a teen feeling confused, ashamed, and very alone.
Think back to your teen years and some of the sexual situations or images you encountered which naturally impacted your views of your body and of sexuality. Did you feel free to talk with your parents about those encounters? The natural shame you felt was a great inhibitor. Most of us simply navigated those waters as best we could without a safe place in which to share honestly.
Your teen may not feel safe enough to share with you. Sexual issues are deep and multi-layered, connecting the heart, mind, body, and soul of a person. They’re also beautiful stepping stones to deeper intimacy with God and those we love if we will let God lead us. This is true whether you’re a child, teen, or adult.
If you want to become an ally to your teen, I encourage you to enlist the help of some other voices. One or two of these books could help bridge the great divide that can naturally occur between teens and parents.
For Teen Gals and Guys:
The Teen’s Guide to Social Media and Mobile Devices by Jonathan McKee
Trust me. You’ll love this book because it tells the truth about technology and gives teens practical ways to form a healthy relationship with it. It has discussion questions for both of you at the end of each chapter. It encourages parents to listen rather than lecture, which creates safety for deeper talks as your teen moves toward young adulthood.
For Teen Gals:
Unashamed: Candid Conversations about Dating, Love, Nakedness, and Faith by Tracy Levinson
Oh, how I could have used this book when I was growing up! Tracy has a gentle yet firm, grace-filled approach to all that is amazing, natural, and right about God’s good design for sex and sexuality. She’s candid, honest, and humble as she shares many of her mistakes. She presents scriptural truths to counteract false messaging about sexuality that today’s teens are internalizing. And best of all, she talked with teen guys and girls to get their honest thoughts. Written in a Q&A style, it’s really simple to dive into. Read this book with your teen and PRAY as you do. Let the Holy Spirit create safety and security between you and your daughter so she can thrive even amid the mixed messaging of the world. (This book is for mid to late teens. Read it first, Mom!)
Meet Me in the Middle: Ten Critical Conversations Dads Need to Have with Their Daughters. Watch for this new book by Barrett Johnson coming this fall.
For Teen Guys:
I asked a younger friend to share his thoughts on this amazingly candid and refreshing book. Here’s what Benjamin, age 15, said:
I really liked The Young Man’s Guide because it was well laid out and easy to read. It had a lot of helpful tips and practical advice. He really knows what he’s talking about and basically tells you everything a teenage boy needs to know. It feels like I now have a compass to navigate through the troubling seas of the modern world.
Barrett’s book is so creative and engaging, with short chapters and paragraphs to capture the attention of any young man. I encourage dads to read this also and to listen well as you work through it with your son. This book can help you become the ally he needs.
Guy’s Guide to God, Girls, and the Phone in Your Pocket by Jonathan McKee
A practical guide for teen guys and a conversation starter for their dads. Jonathan is funny, bold, and he loves Jesus and God’s word. He also has some great resources for parents on his website: http://thesource4parents.com.
Father-Son Accountability: Integrity Through Relationship by John Fort and Lucas Fort
This book presents a novel concept, fathers and sons holding each other accountable, birthed out of John Fort’s own recovery from years of porn addiction. Candid comments and stories from John’s son Lucas add to the credibility of this book. Dads, read it first (it’s short), then prayerfully enter into what could be one of the most powerful relationships you may ever have. I believe you’ll find it filled with truth and grace simply because John has lived with the struggle of porn addiction and knows so well the freedom found in living without it. (One caveat: my husband read this book and mentioned that it presents a more relaxed view of masturbation. This may or may not align with your personal views on it.)
For Parents of Teens:
Kathy’s book will empower you to reign in technology in a progressively screen filled world. She shares stories and great advice for today’s parents.
Some great posts and a video for parents of teens:
Becoming Your Child’s Ally in a Sexualized Culture (First in a multi-part series)
Check out this short video of two of my featured authors, Tracy Levinson and Barrett Johnson: https://www.theblaze.com/video/commentary-can-porn-ruin-your-awesomeness
I pray you and your teens have a wonderful summer and make some great memories together. I also hope you’re using this season to prepare your kids for the real world. Rather than frittering the hours away on a device, have your teen read some of these great books and encourage or even require activities that will grow him or her on the inside (e.g. working, writing, volunteering, or creating). In just a few short years your role as Manager will change to Biggest Fan. Your kids will appreciate how you trained them to manage their own lives and face the challenges of living in a sexualized culture. I know it’s not easy for them or for you. Good things seldom come easily, but they’re worth the effort.
Are you finding this series helpful? Please share it with a friend.
Let me learn from you! I welcome your comments or suggestions! In addition, if you’re in the Atlanta area and you’d like to hear or host my talk: Gatekeeper: A Guide to Parenting in a Sexualized Culture, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founder and CEO of TrueNorth Freedom Project in Atlanta, Georgia.