A Better Way to Raise a Child
"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Raising your child to understand that he/she is called to a better life style - a lifestyle full of blessings and freedom.
A thread was started on the now-defunct Squidu Forum asking "Would you put your 14 yr old on birth control?".
photo credit: Martin Pettitt, on Flickr
The discussion generated by this thread surprised me in a number of ways:
- Points mentioned were self-centered rather than focusing on what would be best for the 14 year old child. Comments seemed to focus on the pain and embarrassment that the parent would encounter if their child were to become pregnant or contract as STD. For some parents, it seems as though the worst by-product of young pregnancy is the possibility of their having to raise their grandchild.
- Points mentioned seemed to indicate that adults feel they have very little influence in a child's life. Any mention of sexual abstinence was quickly dismissed as being completely unrealistic. The majority of the comments endorsed the idea that a child will do as he/she pleases and the best that a parent could hope for is to minimize the consequences (see item 1).
- Points mentioned seem to try to justify the earlier life choices made by commenters rather than to encourage children to pursue a better way of life.
What happened to "Train up a child in the way he should go?" What happened to encouraging a child to resist peer pressure? When did we stop encouraging our children to pursue what's best in life? When did we stop wanting our children to have a better life than we had?
Q: So, why am I posting this message here rather than posting my thoughts on the thread?
A: Long thread comments tend to not be read. This is too important a subject for it to be allowed to disappear into cyberspace.
The Better Way
What is the "Better Way?" The better way is to encourage a child to pursue what is truly good rather to accept what is easy (or what appears to be easier at the time).
There are two root problems in the question "Would you put your 14 yr old on birth control?":
- The first is that you shouldn't wait until your child is 14 years old to begin.
- The second is that "birth control" (as well as protecting against STDs) is not the problem or the solution; pregnancy among unwed teens is merely the symptom.
A parallel example is that of stealing: should we teach our children to not shoplift or to not get caught? The better way is to not shoplift.
In the same way, children should be encouraged to maintain sexual purity solely because God tells us to - it is the better way. Yes, it prevents unwanted pregnancies and Yes, it prevents the spread on sexually transmitted diseases - many good things come from following God's plan.
Sexual Purity also Encourages Stronger Marriages
Every relationship carries with it the baggage from every previous relationship. Sexual histories can be a source of serious baggage which become points of conflict in future relationships, including marriage. As having a long, healthy, happy marriage is something that most people would consider to be a good thing, abstinence before marriage by both parties is a noble goal.
Adultery is a leading cause of conflict within a marriage. Is it not reasonable to assume that a married person that has never had sex with any person other than his/her spouse, would be less likely to engage in extramarital sex? Would it not set many a mind at ease to know that one's spouse respects marriage enough to maintain monogamy not only during marriage, but also before marriage?
As a parent and as someone that works with teenagers, I can tell you that Abstinence does work. It is not unrealistic or nor is it oppressive. The key is to have the right motive for abstaining and that right motive is because God tells us to. It's that simple - just trust that God knows what's best (He did make us after all; it just makes sense that He would know what's best).
If a teenager is told to abstain as a means to not become pregnant, that teen will be able to come up with some other solution - condoms, pills, etcetera.
If a teen is told to abstain as a means of avoiding STDs, that teen will be able to come up with other solutions.
If a teen is told to abstain as a means to preserve a reputation, that teen will be able to come up with other solutions.
If a teen is told to abstain as a means of avoiding parental punishment, that teen will be able to come up with other solutions.
If a teen is taught and understands that abstinence outside of marriage is part of God's perfect plan, that teen can be successful knowing that there is a higher purpose for his/her life.
Abstinence is more than a rule; it's an understanding of a better way.
Do not be afraid to expect great things from your children. Encourage them to pursue the Better Way.
I will praise You,because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.Your works are wonderful,and I know this very well.
- Psalm 139:14
This "Better Way" has applications that extend far beyond the issue of sexual purity and far beyond the teenage years. Pursuing God's Way will ensure blessings in: finances, marriages, friendships, joy, internal peace and eternal security just to name a few.
If you want your comment to be published, then write a comment worth publishing:
- You may disagree with an expressed opinion, but I won't publish your comment if it's profane, abusive or offensive.
- Explain why you believe what you believe. Help the rest of us to understand your point of view.
- No spamming. No trolling.