10 QUESTIONS KIDS ASK ABOUT SEX

Chapter 9

Will You Help Me Avoid Mistakes?

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And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless.

Philippians 1:9-10

Some days the contrasts are sharp and obvious. Bill and I were recently headed to a pro-life fund-raiser for a local crisis pregnancy center. We were going to listen to Pam Tebow, and I was excited to hear her mommy wisdom. She raised five amazing kids, including the famed Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow. Bill was the emcee for the evening. We parked in the far parking lot and crossed along the sidewalk that divided the local city park from the Arts Center where our event would take place. The beautiful San Diego sun was setting. It had been a warm afternoon and several teenage couples were scattered around the park. A few were kissing. The youth pastor and mom in me wanted to take action to help them all make better choices, but God drew my heart to one couple on the far side of the park.

This couple was much further along in their foreplay. He was on top of his “date” and her legs were spread open. He was in the rhythm of coitus, pants on but riding low. Honestly, I was pretty sure we were about ready to witness a premarital teenage “crisis pregnancy” in the making. My heart flooded with all the statistics, all the pages and pages of negative consequences I knew from my years in ministry and the research for this book. I could not just pass by, so I ran across the park in my high heels and black cocktail dress. A few feet from them, I began to realize where I was—in a park known for its gang activity. People had been shot and stabbed on the lawn into which my heels were now sinking. As I got closer, I thought that perhaps this young man could also be a part of a local gang. Nonetheless, he was someone’s son and moreover, the teenage girl was someone’s daughter. He was not respecting himself and he was definitely not respecting her—and this disrespect for intimacy and commitment was on display for all the public park to see.

In my passion to protect, that mama inside just took over. As I got nearer I began to talk loudly enough to give him the opportunity to make a better choice. I tried to convince them both to make a different choice. As I wrapped up, I leaned in and said, “But most of all, this just isn’t a good choice for either of you. God has a better plan for you.” The young woman nodded in agreement and gave a thumbs-up sign as if to say, “I hear ya, lady.” She pushed her date off her and he rolled away in a huff, shouting that his behavior wasn’t against the law.

I don’t know if that encounter will change anything in their future. They might have felt this old lady was all “up in their business,” but for that moment in time, maybe my interruption delayed a crisis and perhaps provided one more opportunity to rethink their choices. I pray so, or they will soon need the services of the crisis pregnancy center we raised funds for!

Many adults have simply thrown in the towel, concluding, “All teens will have sex, so why fight it?” But when is conceding defeat ever a good choice? Do we just give up the fight against terrorism, drinking and driving, genocide, rape, illegal drugs, or any other part of society’s malaise? No, we press on. We can turn things around: If we all care, if we all speak up, if we all seek to educate, support, and encourage the teens of this generation, things can change. God cheers us on in this worthy battle. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

But we have to be watchmen—on many fronts—on many walls—as our kids enter the tween and teen years. It’s like our kids are walking in a minefield, with explosives ready to blow up at their every step. Our kids are asking us to help them avoid the land mines. They may not verbally ask for help, but they have some legitimate fears as they look ahead at the teen landscape too. They’re asking for help with choices about media, friends, urges, and mistakes.

One of our friends is an explosive device technician (an expert at defusing bombs) for the military. He went to a specialized school to be trained in how to safely neutralize the danger. To be successful at this risky task, he must fully understand the enemy and the enemy’s weapons. It is the same with our task as parents. We are the trainers and our teens are the ones who must be fully equipped to successfully defuse the land mines. Our goal is to help push the enemy further and further back so more prisoners of this war on values can be freed. Let’s look at the arsenal and how to equip our kids to counteract the attack.

Media

Media is forging an all-out war against our Christian family value system. My friend Julie Hiramine, founder of Generations of Virtue, writes about media, peer pressure, and eroding sexual values in her new book, Guardians of Purity. I won’t repeat all her good advice, but I will point out a few important statistics to whet your appetite for this helpful resource:

• The average child spends more than 53 hours a week engaging with media (more than an adult will spend at work).

• 71 percent of teens have a TV in their own room (as well as 43 percent of those ages four to six and 30 percent of those under three).

• 90 percent of kids ages eight to sixteen have viewed porn online (67 percent of boys and 49 percent of girls saw nothing wrong with doing it).

• Only three out of ten teenagers have any rules overseeing their media use.1

We created a media contract as a way to help your tweens and teens think through their media choices. This can include reading (on websites or e-readers), television, radio (online or traditional), internet use, gaming, movies, cell phones, social media, and video use. We also encourage you to download a free copy of “The Beatitudes of Social Media” article at our website (www.love-wise.com). A side benefit of the media contract is it can help prevent your child from becoming the victim of an online predator because he or she will learn to be a safe, savvy, street-smart internet user. We, of course, recommend internet filters, television parental control settings, and all the software safeguards that technology can provide. (There is even a DVD player called Clearplay that will take any movie and edit it as it plays to make it G-rated!) However, there is no substitute for discernment, inner conviction, and a resolve for righteousness. In his book Moral Revolution, Kris Vallotton says:

Your virtues train your attitudes, attitudes dictate your choices, choices decide your behavior, and your behavior determines your destiny. The way that this whole process begins is by giving your virtues authority over your thoughts. If your virtues do not govern what you allow yourself to think about, this process of reaching your destiny will be sabotaged. Trying to behave inside your virtues, without taking control of what movie is being shown in the theater room of your heart, simply won’t work. Everything in life begins with a thought, an image that is projected on the movie screen of your mind.2

Media feeds thoughts and the virtues (or lack thereof) into your teen’s life, so regulating media intake should be a priority while parenting a tween or teen. On our website we offer a Teen Media Contract that you can download to help your teens think through the major decisions having to do with all forms of media and technology use. We recommend that you have your child complete the contract, sign the pledge to media purity, and then reward him or her with movie tickets or a gift card to download music or a video, thus rewarding his or her newfound discernment.

The main principle of the media contract is to build that inner compass that will help a person make wise choices when no one is around but God. Remind your child of Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” One family we know taped these verses to the TV and the remote control as a reminder of what to watch. If this is what a person takes in throughout his or her life, they will gain the ability to produce great literature and award-winning media. We can help develop the Christian community to inspire the world and take back the hearts and minds of our society, moving us all closer to the plan God intended.

Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits…So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:16-17 NASB). He went on to explain that “the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders” (Matthew 15:18-19 NASB). This is the basic “Garbage in, garbage out” principle. What goes into a heart, mind, and soul is the kind of fruit that will be produced. If nothing edifying is what is digested, it is almost guaranteed you will see a life in a downward spiral. However, if you raise the quality of the morality and excellence of what is put into a life, that child will soar!

Here is a simple pledge that we suggest you and your teen sign. The best kind of leadership is by example!

I commit to guard my heart, my ears, my mind, and my spirit by selecting excellence in what I read, watch, and listen to. I will be honest to my accountability partners and parents when asked what I am inputting into my soul, and I will seek to glorify God in all ways, at all times, in all things. I will hold to a standard of integrity using the same media in public and in private. I commit to all this before God with my whole heart.

Signed:

Date:

My Friends

The peer group makes all the difference at this stage of life. The best strategy to help a child make good peer choices is to raise them with a balance of compassion and righteousness. Compassion keeps them reaching out and their peers will look to your child as a leader and example. Help your child see the honor and the responsibility that comes with leadership. The below passage lists the qualities of an overseer, and it’s a good set of goals to prepare our teens to emulate. (While this text is in the context of men who lead a church, the list is a nice set of character qualities that will serve both genders in any form of leadership well.)

An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it (Titus 1:6-9).

In addition, teach your teen to walk in step with God’s Holy Spirit. Here’s a simple way to explain being in step with God’s Spirit that we learned from Dr. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru). When we were in youth ministry, I (Pam) often used a set of salt and pepper shakers to explain this.

You are the pepper and you are walking with the salt (God). You are meant to be a matching set, staying next to each other. As you go through life, God might whisper to your heart, Say this, do that. Often He will do this as you read the Bible, but we should learn to tune our ears to God’s Spirit all day every day. He will also point out sin. That’s when you have a choice. You can do what the Bible says in 1 John 1:9 and “confess [your] sins,” believing that God is faithful to forgive. Or you can argue about the sin, and your heart and life begin to wander away from God. At first it might seem fun or enjoyable, but soon you might think things like, “Why am I so miserable? Why isn’t my life fulfilling or running smoothly? Why do I feel far from God?” Your goal is to equip your child to stay in step, obeying at the first moment God whispers to his or her heart so they can stay in the center of God’s plan for their life.

One way to help a tween or teen make wise friendship choices is to help him or her gain a wide net of friends in many settings and circles. By having a wide net of friends, if one group begins to wander from God your child will have other (wiser) friends to fellowship and socialize with. To achieve this, we encouraged our sons to be involved in many Christian youth groups and parachurch groups. We made it a tradition for our teens to attend our church on Sunday (as we served as a family there) but we were open to them visiting other youth groups during the week. They were also involved in Christian clubs, such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Teen Impact, and Student Venture. In some cities, in addition to these, Youth for Christ or other Christian groups might be options. Sit down with your teen and lay out all the options. Have them develop a multifaceted plan for developing strong Christian friendships.

Our own sons all went to Christian schools through eighth grade. The older two wanted to be missionaries on their local public high school campus as athletes, but by the time our youngest arrived on the scene, he was very discouraged by the darkness and eroding education there. At this point Bill had the opportunity to change jobs and move cities, so Caleb attended a very strong Christian high school.

It is interesting though, that the sons in public school and the one in Christian school all had many social circles of Christian friends and pre-believing friends who followed our sons’ leadership. However, they all needed to make strategic choices at times to change friendship circles when they were unable to persuade some of the friends to follow God’s will for their lives.

In a baccalaureate address, our son Zach once advised high school graduates, “If you can’t change your friends then change your friends.” If your kids can’t sway their friends to righteousness, they need to move themselves to fellowship with others who are seeking God’s will. Peer pressure is a powerful thing—and it can work for your family. If your kids surround themselves with others who also want to make smart choices, it will be easier for them to keep choosing well.

My Urges

We’ve already discussed how to help teens handle feelings for the same gender, and in the next chapter we will discuss how to help a teen “pre-decide” how to handle feelings and actions within a dating relationship. But right now we’ll focus on how to help teens handle urges that might be leading them to self-stimulation (masturbation). This is the topic parents usually want to pretend doesn’t exist. But it does exist, and your teen needs you to be brave and discuss it.

The main reason to address masturbation is that if it is left unaddressed it can escalate, becoming addictive and depriving your son or daughter of the interpersonal relationships that lead to healthy dating and a healthy marriage. If they enter marriage addicted to masturbation, especially if it is linked to an addiction to pornography, it will erode the sex life God intended. The second reason is that excessive masturbation can lower a teen’s inhibitions. They become used to a sexual release and then in a dating relationship, they will want that same sexual release. Lastly, if sex is created for marriage, that implies it is made for a relationship of two. If only one person is involved, it is being used outside its intended purpose.

Masturbation and porn addictions often go hand in hand. In either case, it is your responsibility to help your son or daughter regain control over his or her urges, desires, and passions. In general, try to avoid shaming or outrageous statements like, “If you do that you’ll go blind” or the simplistic suggestions to “Take a cold shower” or “Think of your grandmother” if an urge hits. These threats might work, but a realistic plan for success will work better. The Bible doesn’t directly talk about masturbation, so let’s look at some principles that will help your son or daughter not be mastered by masturbation or become a prisoner of porn. Here is a list of what a teen should keep in his or her life and what needs to be removed.

First, keep sexual feelings but remove igniters. God created sexual feelings, but when those feelings are put in the driver’s seat they can escalate into masturbation and porn addictions. Some factors act like accelerants to the addictions, and it’s your job to help your teen rid himself of:

• sexually saturated media of all kinds

• leisurely nakedness (lounging around with little or nothing on)

• long lengths of time alone, especially in his or her room with the door shut

• unregulated internet access

• dating boundary violations (making out, petting in or outside of clothing, mutual masturbation, etc.)

All of these things can be fuel to sexual desires. If you can set up preventions within your home early, they will be easier to reinforce later. These can be simple things like having a computer in a main family room, doing homework with the door to their room open, or leaving a door open unless you’re changing clothes. An open-door home is an invitation to integrity.

In our home, those of the opposite sex were not allowed in bedrooms, even with the door open, and if our teens had friends in, we tried our best to always have a parent on site. Those of the opposite gender were never allowed inside to visit if we weren’t home, and our sons were instructed to follow this rule at others’ homes as well as our own.

Second, keep guilt but remove shame. We would never recommend that your teen take the boundaries off and masturbate any time, but we also do not encourage them to wallow in shame. Responsive guilt that motivates us to repent from poor decisions is a good thing, but chronic shame can become a destructive force that causes people to become self-absorbed, self-centered, and self-destructive. Jesus died to free us from our shame, and He calls us to walk in grace. When we regularly dwell on our shame rather than confessing our sins and accepting God’s forgiveness, we fight against the growth He is trying to accomplish in us. The goal is to stay focused on God’s grace. Godly guilt realigns our path, correcting our choices to keep us nearer the heart of God; shame causes us to run from the heart and presence of God.

Third, keep self-control but remove compulsions. Pornography, masturbation, and other behaviors attached to sexuality can become a powerful habitual addiction. Other more important priorities like studies, work, friendships, or their relationship with God can go by the wayside as compulsions are fed. Help your child learn to be self-controlled in all areas of life and groom a self-disciplined attitude. It will help him or her in this intimate area as well.

For your teen to remain sexually pure it will take a sober-minded, alert-to-danger, conscientious choice. If your teen struggles with addictions, help them create a pattern, a set of actions, they take when they feel temptation coming on. Remind them of stop, drop, and roll: Stop whatever you’re doing that is causing your desires to be ignited, drop to your knees in prayer, and roll into the better choice: a walk around the block, a call to an accountability partner, listening to a worship song, exercise, changing rooms in the house to find someone to talk with (about any topic)—any change of scenery or activity will distract them from the compulsion. Help your child set a plan in place before he or she is struggling with temptation and they may avoid the whole negative cycle of indulging sexual urges.

Finally, keep goals but remove idle time. When we were in youth work, and while raising our own kids, we saw that a busy teen was a healthy teen. It is just harder for a teen to make a bad choice if his or her days are already scheduled full of good choices. This doesn’t mean they have no downtime, but that their time off to relax, rejuvenate, and recover would be more structured or supervised. Overall, we found our sons didn’t have time to develop habits to erode their lives because they set, worked for, and reached lofty goals. Work with your child to dream God-sized dreams for his or her life.

First Corinthians 6:12 draws us to the conclusion that we should never settle for being mastered by bad habits: “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but I will not be mastered by anything.” When masturbation or any other habit begins to master or dominate a life, or if your teen plans their schedule around the opportunity to engage in an addictive experience, it is time to get professional counseling.

My Mistakes

To help deter errors like premarital sex, expose your tween or teen to the sobering reality of a life after some of the possible mistakes:

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All teens seem to think, “It can’t happen to me!” So use stories to drive the point home. One young mother came up to me after I spoke at a MOPS meeting. She was sobbing so hard it took a while to help her gain enough composure for her story to tumble out. “It was just one time; just one night. Now everything is tainted,” she said. “Each pregnancy I worry about the safety of my baby. Every sexual interaction I worry about my husband. It is a wall between us. He tries to be understanding, but just taking precautions to protect him from my disease is a wall—it stands between us. I hate it! If I had just paid attention to all the good advice, all the warnings, all the adults in my life saying, ‘Don’t, don’t!’ I am only twenty-five years old and all I can see for my future is years and years of regret ahead. One day I will have to confront this. I will have to tell my own children. I didn’t even love the guy. I didn’t even know him, really. And I know he didn’t love or care for me. But he gave me a gift that keeps on giving—pain, shame, hopelessness. Such pain. Such shame. Such a waste! I don’t even know why I am sharing this. It isn’t like you can heal it. I guess I just needed to tell someone. I feel so all alone.”

Unplanned Pregnancy

Now, all children are a blessing. Psalm 127:3-5 tells us, “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Children are a blessing, even unplanned ones—but the timing can make life difficult! With three out of every ten American girls becoming pregnant by the age of 20,3you need to use every possible teaching moment to educate your teen about the cost, the work, and the responsibility of parenting a child. Encourage them to work in children’s ministry, mission trips for children’s causes, youth camps, or Vacation Bible School. Volunteer to have your family care for special needs kids or a single or teen mother. Even making your children be fiscally responsible can clue him or her into the escalating cost of parenthood. Draw up a budget and make your teen responsible for earning and paying for some of their own needs: shoes, clothes, social life, etc. Give them the responsibility of helping clip coupons or helping grocery shop.

If friends, family, or even a television show bring up the topic of teen parenthood, discuss the lifestyle changes that come with the responsibility of having children. Then take steps to move your teen out of the highest risk groups: Teen girls who live with non-parent relatives begin having intercourse at a younger age than those who have always lived with at least one biological parent. One study found that almost one third of girls in foster care become pregnant at least once by age 17. Teenage girls whose boyfriends are in a gang are twice as likely to become pregnant as their peers.4 Teens in single-parent homes are more likely to become sexually active, as are teens whose parents were unmarried when they themselves were born.5 The likelihood that teenage girls will become pregnant increases by 11 percent with each change in family structure (parental marriage, divorce, remarriage, etc.). Are you seeing a pattern? Teens most at risk are those without two parents (or an attentive single parent) and in a social setting where teen pregnancy is seen as acceptable or the norm.

There are some choices you can make as a parent that will help your child not to become a statistic. According to the Heritage Foundation, your teen will be less likely to engage in premarital sex if you:

• stay married or keep your marital status stable in his or her teen years

• talk to them about sex

• monitor their activities and behavior

• show them that you disapprove of premarital sex

• allow them to watch less TV than their peers

• talk with them about sex and sexual standards6

Answers to Have Ready

Make some notes for a conversation with your tween or teen in each area we have discussed:

Media: Have your child download and complete the Teen Media Contract (available at www.Love-Wise.com).

Friends: Set up a date to discuss expanding or improving your student’s peer circle and involvement with teens seeking to live wisely.

Urges: Set up a time to discuss masturbation with your child (this might be more comfortable if Mom talks to daughters and Dad talks to sons).

Mistakes: Set up a time to discuss potential mistakes or missteps to avoid. If you have any adjustments to make in your parenting to help your teen make wiser choices, this is the time to explain what family traditions will be instituted and why.

Parent to Parent

Why should we stand for pro-life? This can be a divisive topic because so many have been touched personally by the decision to choose life…or not. We think this is a pivotal core belief. This is one reason why even the founders of the United States wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

But there is another document that also raises life as a core value to be cherished. In Psalm 139:13-16 we read,

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

A person who honors and protects life, the life of the yet unborn, the most innocent of them all, is more likely to honor and protect their own life and the lives of those around them.

The big question science and theology has wrestled with is, “When does life begin?” We taught our children that life begins at the first moment an egg and a sperm unite. From that moment on, all it takes is time and care for a child to be born. That is why we encouraged you to use a beautiful book that included photographs of a baby in the womb when teaching very young children where a baby comes from—and to bring it back out as your kids turn the corner into their teen years. Life is beautiful and those who cherish life have the ability to create beautiful lives and help others do the same.

God sets life in motion. By the eighteenth day of pregnancy the child’s heart is already beating. Just a few days later its blood is being pumped through its own separate circulatory system, and the eyes, ears, and respiratory system are developing. Before the two-month mark brain waves can be recorded, the skeleton is complete, and reflexes are present. Their hands, eyelids, toes, and nose develop. The baby begins to kick and can suck its thumb. Every organ is in place, bones begin to replace cartilage, fingerprints begin to form, and the baby can begin to hear.

By the end of the first trimester of pregnancy, the baby can squint, swallow, move his or her tongue, make a fist, frown, and hiccup. Teeth form and tiny fingernails develop. The baby can “breathe” amniotic fluid and urinate. All organ systems are functioning and the baby has all of the parts necessary to experience pain, including nerves, a spinal cord, and a thalamus. Vocal cords are complete. And just a few weeks later, the genitals will form and a parent will know whether the baby is a boy or a girl.

That’s life by any standard. Yet one out of three women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are forty-five.7 The reasons most frequently cited for having an abortion were that having a child would interfere with a woman’s education, work, or ability to care for dependents; that she could not afford a baby now; and that she did not want to be a single mother or was having relationship problems.8 None of these reasons would be grounds for a mother to kill her already born child, yet we reach inside the womb and justify the action before birth. In addition, the choice for abortion in cases of rape and incest are less than one percent.9 And in the only major study of pregnant rape victims ever done prior to this book, Dr. Sandra Mahkorn found that 75 to 85 percent did not have abortions.10 To the victim, an abortion seemed just another form of violence against them.

Abortion to save the life of the mother is a rare case, a dilemma nearly made obsolete due to the great advancements in medicine. Jasper Williams, Jr., a past president of the National Medical Association, says that, “Doctors now have the tools and the knowledge with which to work so that they can handle almost any disease a patient might have…without interrupting the pregnancy.”11 Physicians on both sides of the debate concur on this but the strongest evidence may be from a pro-choice physician who said, “The idea of abortion to save the mother’s life is something that people cling to because it sounds noble and pure—but medically speaking, it probably doesn’t exist. It’s a real stretch of our thinking.”12

The Association of Prolife Physicians explains, “When the life of the mother is truly threatened by her pregnancy, if both lives cannot simultaneously be saved, then saving the mother’s life must be the primary aim. If through our careful treatment of the mother’s illness the pre-born patient inadvertently dies or is injured, this is tragic and, if unintentional, is not unethical and is consistent with the pro-life ethic.”13

So in the vast majority of cases, a child’s inconvenience to the life of the mother is the main reason women elect to abort. We have to help women think through their choices because they sometimes lose the ability to process rationally. For example, in one study of those who had an abortion, more than a third of interview respondents said they had considered adoption and concluded that it was a morally unconscionable option because giving one’s child away is wrong.14 This is an outrageous conclusion. Simply put it means these women think it is morally right to kill a baby, but it is morally wrong to allow that same baby to live and allow a loving family to raise it.

In nine out of ten cases economics is the driving fear, and women can’t picture how to provide for themselves while pregnant or for a baby after birth.15 When we support these girls, alleviate their fears with tangible help, and give them alternatives like adoption, it does help women make better choices.

One mistake—one wrong choice to have premarital sex that results in a pregnancy—is not a reason to compound the problem with more poor choices. Pushing a young couple to marry too young (without adequate premarital counseling) will make matters worse and is not worth saving face socially. Pressuring marriage before helping them mature to economically support themselves will not fix the problem but compound it. In addition, pushing abortion destroys a person—the baby—but it can also emotionally destroy a mother with long-range consequences like depression, infertility, sexual dysfunction, and other more subtle side effects. To value life, even an unplanned life, will be the road out of chaos and back to stability. If the choice is made to care for the mother and the baby, the best option will rise to the surface because this is the stand nearer to the heart of God.

We openly discussed abortion and life with our children, and our sons participated in pro-life events with us so they could become equipped to help their peers if they should find themselves in a hard situation. We tangibly supported mothers with baby showers, childcare, and other practical help. We also looked for heroic examples of love to hold up to our children, examples of courage, like these two women, conceived of a rape:

Rebecca Wasser-Kiessling, who was conceived in a rape, is rightfully proud of her mother’s courage and generosity and wisely reminds us of a fundamental truth that transcends biological paternity: “I believe that God rewarded my birth mother for the suffering she endured, and that I am a gift to her. The serial rapist is not my creator; God is.”

Similarly, Julie Makimaa, who works diligently against the perception that abortion is acceptable or even necessary in cases of sexual assault, proclaims, “It doesn’t matter how I began. What matters is who I will become.”16

When you raise your tweens and teens to honor and value life, it carries over to other areas. Your sons will be the protectors of the girls and women of their world. The women in all of our sons’ lives have shared how they have gone out of their way to ensure that all the women of their social circle arrive home safely, even if it meant them walking them to their car, walking them across campus to their dorm, or rescuing them if a tire went flat. Your son could become a protector of women—a doctor, lawyer, politician, pastor, or just a really great husband someday—because you chose to help him value life. All life.

In addition, many of the girls I have mentored are in the trenches of the pro-life movement every day, simply voicing reason and giving their friends good wisdom like, “Don’t have sex. Choose life. Don’t drink. Let me call your mom. Let me take you home. You have value. Don’t let him talk to you that way. Let me get you someplace safe…” Your daughter could become a doctor, lawyer, midwife, youth worker, mentor, politician, or a really great friend, and one day, after marriage, a really great mother herself, because you helped her embrace the value of life. If we equip our teens, they will be the watchmen not only over their own lives, but over the lives of their generation.

Answers for Your Heart

If a third of women have an abortion, many moms reading this book might be among that number. If you are one of them, do not carry this pain, this burden, this secret alone any longer. Pat Layton has written a wonderful resource for women, Surrendering the Secret, that can set you and your family free. Often your local crisis pregnancy clinic or your local church offers these types of abortion recovery programs.

Some of my best friends have turned their own pain into an outreach to rescue and redeem others. Musician Gwen Smith’s story, Broken into Beautiful, may also be a source of comfort. Tammy DeAmas, the director of alternatives women’s center, traded her shame, guilt, and pain in for God’s mercy and grace. This past year over 250 babies were saved because her staff gave the kind of accurate information she was not given. In addition, her own teens and college-aged children are making wise choices for their own future because she and her husband were brave enough to deal with their past. Mom and Dad, turn your past into a path of hope for your own children and the teens of your community. The truth will set you free.