Category Archives: Parenting

Eight Factors Common in Childhoods of Sex Addicts

I am a huge baseball fan and the postseason is great. Last year in the 10th inning of the decisive game of the World Series, Chicago Cub Ben Zobrist drove in the winning run.

Was this just about an opportunity? Or was this path set much earlier: the Houston Astros who first drafted him? His high school coach who convinced him to try out? His whiffle ball games with his friends at age 8?

It was the opportunity AND the path.

What about a person struggling with pornography? Is it just about an opportunity? Or is it about a path that had been set many years before? Again, the answer is both.

Patrick Carnes lists eight factors common in families of sex addicts.

  1. Addiction.

This can be alcohol, gambling, nicotine, eating, drugs, sex, or pornography. Often it is a combination.

  1. Secrets.

This “elephant in the living room” is having a huge impact on life but everyone pretends it is not there.

  1. Rigid and authoritarian.

There is only one way to do things. There is no give and take.

  1. Sex-negativity.

Sex is always negative, dirty, bad, sinful, or nasty.

  1. Sexual duplicity.

Parents do not live up to their standards about sex. There are affairs, pornography, sexting, etc.

  1. Little intimacy.

Family members are disengaged. There is little sharing of feelings or vulnerability.

  1. Neglect.

This could be capital N neglect: sexual, physical, emotional abuse or a lack of food, shelter, clothes, or safety. It could be little n neglect: lack of attention, empathy, or love.

  1. Compartmentalization.

People act one way in one situation and something totally different in another. There is an overreaction or under-response to life’s problems.

Are any of these factors present in your home? King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 22:6, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Apparently, that is true negatively and positively.

Carnes, P. (2015). Facing the Shadow: Starting Sexual and Relationship Recovery (Third ed.). Carefree, AZ: Gentle Path Press.

Topkin, M. (2009, July 13). Tampa Bay Rays’ Ben Zobrist has taken a surprising path to today’s All-Star Game. Retrieved from Tampa Bay Times: http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays/tampa-bay-rays-ben-zobrist-has-taken-a-surprising-path-to-todays-all-star/1018198

Not Recycling versus Pornography

By Angela Tooley

I often have conversations with individuals who are not aware of the dangerous nature of pornography. Of course, as a part of my work I share this fact as much as possible.

Do you know pornography’s growing prevalence in our culture and its dangers?

The Barna Group released a landmark study last year showing a shift in morality as values are eroding. Teens (ages 13-17) and young adults (ages 18-24) were asked to rank the following actions as to whether they were morally wrong.

  1. Stealing 88%
  2. Adultery 75%
  3. Lying 71%
  4. Not recycling 56%
  5. Thinking negatively of someone with a different point of view 55%
  6. Overeating 48%
  7. Wasteful consumption of water or electricity 38%
  8. Jealousy 32%
  9. Viewing pornographic images 32%

Be sure to take a good look at that again. Did you notice that not recycling is considered a greater danger to our society than having future generations who are unable to have lasting, meaningful relationships because they thought pornography wasn’t wrong?

The study also confirms that pornography is not just a problem for men. 67% of male teens and young adults and 33% of females are seeking out porn on a frequent basis.

That is 1 in 3 females!

Pornography isn’t much better when we get over the age the age of 25: 47% of men and 12% of females frequently seek out pornography.

Even among Christian women ages 18-24, 56% viewed pornography at least once a month. For Christian women over the age of 25, it is still 27%.

If that wasn’t enough, 49% of all women surveyed think of pornography as acceptable.

Sobering. Clearly there is much that needs to be done in educating ourselves and those around us about the harm of pornography.

Barna Group. (2016).The Porn Phenomenon: The Impact of Pornography in the Digital Age. Ventura, CA: Barna Group.

Parent Corner

Welcome to a new feature of Noble Notes, Parent Corner. In this spot of the newsletter, we will give parents ideas about how to use the information in the feature article. We are excited to offer this new feature periodically.

  1. Give your teens the list of nine actions above. Ask them to rank them in order of the worst to the least worst. Then discuss their list and their reasoning. Be careful not to judge their answers as right or wrong.
  2. Ask your teens how they thing their classmates as a whole would rank the list. Discuss what makes them think they would rank them this way.
  3. Share the way you would list them and why but again being careful not to claim the “right” answer. Offer it simply as another point of view.
  4. Quote the statistics about females viewing pornography. Ask if that is their experience with the females at their school.
  5. Ask your teen what they would do if they were offered pornography to view. This could be via text, YouTube, website, etc. Offer ideas and what you would like them to do.

Are you a Hypocritical Parent?

Finger PointWhen I was two years old, a drunk driver swerved and hit our car head-on. My parents and my injuries were so severe that my grandparents were told my dad and I would not likely live through the night.

None of us were wearing seat belts. We were lucky to survive.

Every memory I have of my dad driving us in the car anywhere is his “obsession” with making sure we all had on our seat belts.

Was my dad a hypocritical parent?

I mean he didn’t wear a seat belt when he was younger. What right did he have to force his children to do something that he wasn’t even able to do when he grew up?!!

This logic is absurd, isn’t it? My dad was now acutely aware of the risks of not wearing a seat belt. He loved his family so much that he would do everything to protect us.

Change the topic from seat belts to sexual activity or pornography or drinking or drug use. The logic of the hypocritical parent is still absurd.

Yet it is one of the top reasons I hear from parents as to why they don’t address these issues: “I can’t ask my children to do what I was unable to do myself.” I am glad my dad didn’t have that problem with demanding that I wear a seat belt.

You should not have that problem either. If you love your kids, do everything to protect them even if it means being a hypocritical parent.

In reality, asking your children not to make the poor choices you made does not make you a hypocrite. It makes you a good parent.

Teaching Kids About Same-Sex Marriage

Same Sex MarriageThe Supreme Court’s ruling about same-sex marriage is a monumental change in our culture.

Noble Choices is not changing. We still help people see all of their choices and empower them to choose the highest quality of life. We must now help people make Noble Choices about marriage.

Here are five things parents should do to help their children with this choice.

1. Talk about it!
It is uncomfortable. We fear being judgmental or hypocritical. We are unclear what or how to say it. Do you fear that talking about it will “spoil their innocence,” or “make them desire it?” A 2014 study of 118 evaluations of sex education programs found that 99% did not increase the start of sexual activity. 56% actually showed some positive results. The most effective programs encouraged youth to have genuine talks with their parents.

2. Save sex for marriage.
Saving sex for marriage (same-sex or not) is still the best choice for health, emotions, and success of the marriage. Nothing changes for this value.

3. Acknowledge the choice.
Like it or not, your children have the choice of same-sex marriage. “This is not an option” closes communication and denies their reality. I have always listed abortion as an option in dealing with a teen pregnancy. This allowed me to address abortion and show other options as better. The same approach should be taken with same-sex marriage.

4. Teach the positive.
From an early age, teach your children what you believe about marriage and why you believe it. Teach more about what you are “for” than what you are “against.”

5. Acceptance is not approval.
God gives us freedom to choose His way or not. If we choose another way, He still loves us and wants the best for us even if He does not approve. We should be like God. You already do this with a host of other issues: drinking, divorce, smoking, using God’s name in vain, over-eating, church attendance, etc. We must now do it with same-sex marriage. Your children will encounter others who choose same-sex marriage. Talk about how to respond to them.

Fish, H., Manlove, J., Moore, K. A., & Mass, E. (2014, December). What works for adolescent sexual and reproductive health: lessons from experimental evaluations of programs and interventions. Retrieved from Child Trends: http://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/2014-64WhatWorksTeenSexualReproHealth.pdf

Six Things to Check at Your Teen’s Job

My first job as a teenager was at McDonald’s. I remember being so proud to drive myself to work, get a pay check, and have real responsibilities.

I also was amazingly naive and my new boss (who was very young himself) was quick to take advantage of me. I kept getting scheduled at times I said I wasn’t available and was asked to work after hours almost every shift.

Then abruptly it stopped. I wouldn’t know until I was an adult that my father talked to my boss. Dad didn’t tell me he did this and swore my boss to secrecy as well so my pride would be maintained.

Regardless of whether you agree with my father’s tactics, are you involved in the working life of your teenager? You need to be.

According to a recent study, the majority of parents do not help their teen ask questions about workplace safety or help their child learn about youth work restrictions.

How many U.S. teens each year experience death, injury or illness at their job? 146,000. The stakes are high.

Ask your working teens:
• How much training did you receive?
• Have you been trained about what to do if there is a robbery?
• Are you ever alone in the workplace?
• Are there hazardous machinery or tools?
• Have you been trained on how to deal with an angry customer?
• Is there an adult manager always on site?

(“Parental Involvement With Their Working Teens.” Runyan, et al. Journal of Adolescent Health, July 2011, Volume 49, Issue 1 , Pages 84-86.)

Teens and Sleep

Sleeping_while_studyingParents today have to deal with so many issues when parenting teens that it is easy to lose track of the basics, sleep for example.

Did you know that a lack of sleep in teenagers is linked to:
• suicide
• high blood pressure
• heart disease
• Type 2 diabetes
• depression
• sexual activities
• car accidents
• poor school performance
• mental health issues
• risk-taking behavior
• substance abuse
• binge drinking
• obesity
• social inhibition
• sedentary behavior
• low socioeconomic status

The CDC reports that the recommended amount of sleep for teens is nine to ten hours. A recent study found that 60% of high schoolers report they do not get over seven hours. The majority of high school teens are falling at least two hours short! This shortfall results in a
• 47% greater likelihood to binge drink
• 80% greater likelihood to have regretted sexual activity

What can parents do?

1. Do what you can. Increasing sleep just one hour results in a ten percent improvement in most of the consequences.
2. Make adequate sleep a condition to drive. If your teen doesn’t get enough sleep, take their keys. You wouldn’t let them drive drunk. Why would you let them drive drowsy?
3. Remove electronics (televisions, cell phones, video games, tablets, computers, etc.) from the bedroom. Some studies show that the light of a screen makes us think it is daytime and makes it difficult to sleep. Many studies show that incoming texts and social media posts interrupt teen sleep. Other show that these items just keep teens awake longer due to their participation.
4. Regulate caffeine consumption. Energy drinks and specialty coffee drinks can have as much caffeine as ten cups of coffee!
5. Set a bedtime. Studies show that teens with a set bedtime have a much more positive sleep pattern.
6. Establish a quiet time of one hour before bedtime. Teens who do not use electronic devices or do school work an hour before bedtime got more sleep.
7. Set a good example. The CDC says adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Model the suggestions above in your own life.

Brody, J. (2014, October 21). Hard Lesson in Sleep for Teenagers. The New York Times, p. D5.
CDC. (2013). How Much Sleep Do I Need? Retrieved from Sleep and Sleep Disorders: http://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.htm
Keyes, K., Maslowsky, j., Hamilton, A., & Schulenberg, J. (2015, March). The Great Sleep Recession: Changes in Sleep Duration Among US Adolescents, 1991-2012. PEDIATRICS, 460-468. doi:10.1542/peds.2014-2707
National Seep Foundation. (2006). Sleep in America Poll – Summary of Findings. Retrieved from Teens and Sleep: http://sleepfoundation.org/sites/default/files/2006_summary_of_findings.pdf
Wong, M., Robertson, G., & Dyson, R. (2015, February 16). Prospective Relationship Between Poor Sleep and Substance-Related Problems in a National Sample of Adolescents. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, 335-362.

Teen Texting Rules

Texting girlWhat is the number one way people use their cell phones?

Checking the time.

Number two? Texting.

In fact the average teenager will send a text every ten minutes they are awake. That’s over 3100 texts per month! This isn’t even counting the number of texts they receive.

Here is some advice for parents regarding texting.
1. Get an unlimited texting plan. Teens will likely text far more than the minutes they will use on phone calls.
2. Use parent-controls. These can not only help to avoid going over any limits but also can make sure texting is not done at inappropriate times.
3. No texting in class.
4. No texting at meals.
5. No texting overnight.Be sure to set the specific time each night when texting is no longer allowed as well as the time each morning when it can begin.
6. No texting while driving.
7. No texting while walking, Search this in YouTube for video evidence of why this is a bad idea.
8. No texting to cheat in class.
9. Texting rules include reading texts as well as sending.
10. Establish clear consequences for misuse. Confiscate the phone for a period of time. Then limited use for a period after they get it back.
11. Monitor messages. Text messages can go viral. Therefore, they are not private. You are not invading privacy by reading them. Have your teen give you their phone every night at least one hour before bedtime. This is your time to monitor their messages and phone use. Return their phone to them the next morning.
12. No sexting.Teach that sexting by teenagers is a crime. It is child pornography and is a prosecutable crime even if they are voluntarily taking the picture of themselves. Therefore it will not be tolerated whether they are the sender or receiver.
13. Embrace the technology yourself. 63% of parents believe texting improved their relationship with their teen. Quickly check in with your teen with a “How are you?” “Where are you?” or “Need anything?” text.
14. Set a good example. Follow your own rules. Don’t text while driving. Don’t text your child in class if you don’t allow them to look at texts in class.

(“Responsible Text Messaging Tips” by Common Sense Media. December 21, 2011. San Francisco, CA: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/responsible-text-messaging-tips)

The Premarital Affair

Despite our culture that seems to ever increase its promotion of sexual pleasure, the vast majority of Americans (85%) still disapprove of extramarital affairs.

I believe the reason is because we feel for the betrayed spouse. Many of my coaching clients are betrayed spouses who are devastated but still want to save their marriage. If you have heard me speak, you know that my first wife had an online affair. I know that pain and devastation personally.

Dr. Shirley Glass did extensive research on infidelity. She describes the following vulnerabilities to having an affair.

You are more likely to be unfaithful if:

  1. Your friends and professional colleagues are unfaithful
  2. You work in entertainment or sports
  3. Your work or social environments condone affairs
  4. You believe that infidelity is common
  5. Your parents had an affair
  6. You are successful at work with a greater income
  7. You live in or near large metropolitan centers
  8. You travel for work
  9. You had an affair before
  10. You hold a high-status or powerful position
  11. You over indulge in alcohol and/or drugs
  12. You were the victim of sexual abuse
  13. You had premarital sex with multiple partners

Please note that Dr. Glass was quick to point out that none of these was an absolute predictor of an affair. She notes exceptions to each one. They are simply areas of vulnerability.

Besides protecting your own marriage (#5), this list gives great guidelines for parenting teenagers. Notice the link to premarital sex (#13). This is one more reason to give our teens to save sex for marriage.

We also need to teach our teens to choose good friends (#1, #3), avoid alcohol and drugs (#11), and choose a supportive work environment (#2, #3). We also need to make sure we continually battle the teens perception that “everyone is doing it [sex].” (#4)

This list can also guide our teens in the selection of who they should date or eventually marry. No one who is getting married wants or expects their marriage to deal with an affair. The real work of affair prevention may start long before we even know who we will marry.

Glass, S. P. (2003). Not “Just Friends”. New York: The Free Press.