By Rosanna Emenusiobi
We continue x-ray how mothers can raise pure teens.
.1.3 Pray with Your Teens
It is not enough to pray for your children. You must pray with them. Prayer teaches us to encounter Christ in our daily lives. First and foremost, attend Holy Mass. Sunday Mass is not a suggestion from God, but a command. Fulfilling it teaches your children to put first things first. In other words, it teaches them that God is more important than games or sports. Let vocal prayer also be a regular part of your family life. Get over your discomfort about prayer.
If you are afraid to talk to God with your children, children will grow up thinking that spirituality does not extend beyond the walls of their Church. Let them see you praying for their needs and that of your spouse. Consider praying a Rosary in the evening with your family after supper. If you are living a nearby parish with Eucharistic Adoration Chapel, consider spending at least an hour each week, bringing with you a different family member each time.
Another beautiful form of prayer is listening to God by reading the Scripture. Try to read the Gospels or the Letters of St. Paul each day, spending a moment in silence and letting each family member share what God is saying to them through His word. There is powerful grace given when we listen to what God has to say and then apply it to our lives. Again, check the time in your parish for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). Ensure that your entire family avail themselves of this great medium of grace, at least, once a month. Taking up the habit of frequent confession shows teens that even you, as the mother, need the help of God to overcome your shortcomings.
It is important to stress that, for a teenager, the habits of personal prayer, Mass, the Rosary, and frequent Confession need to be developed at early age (prior to college life) as such habits may be difficult to form at the campus. The Church teaches, “Young people especially should earnestly foster devotion to the Immaculate Mother of God, and take as example the lives of saints and other faithful people, especially young ones, who excelled in the practice of chastity.” St. Philip Neri also said that “devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to the Blessed Virgin are not simply the best way, but in fact the only way to keep purity. At the age of 20 nothing but Communion can keep one’s heart pure … Chastity is not possible without the Eucharist.” In fact, it is unfair for a mother to expect her teens to live a virtuous life without teaching them where to obtain the necessary graces.
7.1.4: “I have prayed and prayed and the prayers don’t seem to work.”
Yes, sometimes, despite all your efforts at prayer, your children still make decisions that are almost stupid. Your natural tendency may be to blame yourself for not doing enough. Before being too harsh on yourself, remember that your children, like any other people, have the gift of free will, and they sometimes do not make the best choices. It is well known that many wayward teens have saintly parents and many saintly teens have wayward parents! It would be wonderful if the sanctity of parents automatically transferred to their children.
However, the Bible reassures us: ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). This text means that the seed you plant will come to fruition when the time comes. Do not lose hope if you have spent countless hours in prayer for your child with no signs of improvement. All these are graces stored up for the child. In the meantime, offer up the suffering, and trust that God will never be outdone in generosity. All the graces you have stored up for your child through your tears and prayers will come flowing into the dry valleys one day. Remember St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine!
7.1.5 Understand Your Teen’s Motives
In order to raise chaste teens, it is essential to understand why so many young people choose to live unchaste lives. We can now look closely at some of the most common motivating forces, and what you can do to counteract them.
22.214.171.124 Sexual Desire
Boys and girls have different reasons for engaging in sexual activity. For boys, the decision is often motivated by a desire for pleasure. This is not merely a gender stereotype. Louann Brazening in her book, The Female Brain, points out that when a boy is only eight weeks in his mother’s womb, a surge of testosterone begins that kill off cells in the communication centre of his brain, while growing more cells in the area of the brain dedicated to sex and aggressiveness. This is not to say that girls lack sexual desire, but that their desire for sexual intimacy is not fuelled primarily by hormones. Therefore, make sure you are doing all you can to help them through the struggle. Young people need to understand what is going on in their bodies and be ready to answer important questions that weigh on their heart. For instance, “why would God allow me to experience such intense sexual desire and expect me to remain abstinent?” Am I bad for having these desires”? Failure to address such questions can lead to profound confusion, a feeling that something is somehow wrong with them, and eventually, burnout. An unhealthy answer can make him feel guilty for having such desires – as if the longing for sexual intimacy is inherently wrong. The Church has some helpful instruction in this regard:
Parents should offer well-reasoned arguments about the great value of chastity … They will answer clearly, without giving excessive importance to pathological sexual problems. Nor will they give the false impression that sex is something shameful or dirty, because it is a great gift of God who placed the ability to generate life in the human body, thereby sharing his creative power with us. Indeed, both in Scripture (cf. Song 1-8; Hos. 2; Jer. 3:1-3; Ez. 23, etc.) and in the Christian mystical tradition, conjugal love has always been considered a symbol and image of God’s love for us.
Teens should be made to know that God is the Architect of our bodies. And He is the one who planted within us the yearning to become one flesh with someone’ else. Therefore, it is essential for teens (especially boys) to know that it is perfectly healthy and normal to experience strong sexual desires. It is also essential to help teens understand the difference between sexual desire and lust. Lust is a selfish and sinful desire to use another for one’s own gratification. Sexual desire, on the other hand, is a biological urge that takes on a moral value depending upon how we react to it. Teens who are not taught the difference between lust and sexual desire will not be able to integrate their sexuality with their faith. Because teens’ sexual desire can be so strong, the possibility of sanctity would seem impossible. But if they understand that their desires have been given by God, they will be able to make sense of the desires.
126.96.36.199 Keep Them Busy as They Look for Love
To keep the teens busy with positive things is another way to help them deal with sexual desire. It is a known fact that some battles are best won by avoiding them all together. Nothing leads to lust like boredom. St. Bellarmine warns, “Flee idleness, for no one is more exposed to such temptations than he who has nothing to do.” When they have too much free time, it is not surprising that they would turn to pleasure as a form of entertainment. Therefore, encourage your teens to become active in sports, school activities, clubs, youth group, pious societies, or work. Thus, they will have fewer hours to surf the internet.
Again, many girls become sexually active out of the desire to feel accepted, wanted, and loved, especially as they experience the natural need for affirmation that accompanies their physical and emotional development. Many of them are yearning for security, especially when they lack a close and positive relationship with their fathers (on account of abuse or divorce), then they will look elsewhere for male approval through sexual intercourse. Some even may sleep with numerous boys because they had total and complete lack of love in their lives. This attraction to sexual activity for teen girls (and also for boys) can be overwhelming when they feel unloved or deprived of affection. Teens long for love; if they are not receiving it, they become determined to find it, often in the wrong ways. Mothers, you have to be aware of this need. Check the relationship between your teen girls and their dads; you have to also check your own relationship with your boys. Are these relationships cordial? Are they positive? Do all you can to forestall divorce! Period!
188.8.131.52 Physical Affirmation and Time
Make sure they find true love at home. Home needs to be a safe haven of love and acceptance for your child. Teens live in a ruthless world: Internet bullying, gossip, sarcasm, and all the social pressures that a teen may experience. These and others leave them thirsting for praise and affirmation. If they feel ignored or rejected at home, this only primes them for illicit forms of affection and false love. It is essential, therefore, that you (parents) praise your children as often as they need it. Even, when you have to correct them, always express love in your face, no matter how difficult this may be. They need to hear you to hear: “I love you”, “I am proud of you´, “Ezigbo nwa”, “So nwa”, “You look pretty (or handsome)”, “Nwa ma ife”, and other such things. If your teens, especially your daughters are used to these affirmative words, when a boy or a man says to them, “You look beautiful, or I love you”, she will think, “I know. My Mom or Dad has been telling me that since I was in diapers.” They would not use their bodies to respond to such things. Physical affirmation like hugging and pecking are important, too. Don’t forget simple touches, such as hand in hand, hand on shoulder or a little blessing on their forehead before bed.