Be a Know No Parent

By Eric Tooley

What are our biggest worries regarding our kids?

A recent study of over 2,000 American adults revealed the following list:

  • Childhood obesity
  • Smoking
  • Drug abuse
  • Bullying
  • Stress
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Internet safety
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Not enough physical activity

Very good list. Several of them are main focuses of our work at Noble Choices.

What do these worries all have in common?

The need for our children to say, “No.”

Do you teach your children to say, “no”?

Many parents actually do the opposite. They will respond to their child’s “no” with hurt, withdrawal, guilt, anger, threats, and punishment.

Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend offer the following examples of parents not allowing their children to say “no.”

  • “Mommy needs to hold you now.”
  • “How can you say ‘no’ to your parents who love you?”
  • “Don’t talk back to me.”
  • “Someday you’ll feel sorry for hurting your parents’ feelings like that.”

Ask your self the following:

  • Do you allow your child to disagree with you?
  • When your child wants distance or to play something else, do you allow it?
  • If your child argues about bedtime, do you listen, consider, and even change your mind occasionally?
  • Even if you enforce the bedtime, do you do it without withdrawing love?
  • If your child doesn’t want to give affection, do you force it?

How can we expect our teens to say no to smoking, drugs, alcohol, pornography, or teen sex if we haven’t allowed them to say no to anything else while growing up?

However, if you teach them it is safe to say “no” and allow them to practice it, they will have ten years of practice before hitting their teen years.

Don’t be a NO NO parent. Be a KNOW NO parent.

 

Cloud, D. H., & Townsend, D. (1992). Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, To Take Control of Your Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. (2014, August 11). School violence, gun-related injuries in top 10 child health concerns in U.S. Retrieved from National Poll on Children’s Health: http://mottnpch.org/sites/default/files/documents/081114_top10.pdf

 

 

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.

Your Escape Room

Have you heard the latest craze? Escape rooms.

People pay $30 to be locked in a room. They have sixty to ninety minutes to solve a series of puzzles to find their way out. An escape room in Dallas should clear a million dollars just this year. You can find them all over the world even in Iraq and Iran.

Escapes have always been popular: movies, reality shows, books and songs. What are we escaping from though? Actor Nicolas Cage gives us a clue,

“As a child, superheroes provided an escape for me from my mundane existence, from my lack of friends or my inability to communicate well with people.”

We all have something from which we want to escape.

What is your escape room?

Some of us have socially acceptable escape rooms:

  • television/movies
  • video games
  • exercise
  • Facebook
  • workaholism/success/wealth

Some of us have addiction escape rooms:

  • pornography
  • alcohol
  • drugs
  • gambling
  • eating
  • sex

Our escape rooms become the very thing from which we cannot escape.

1 Peter 4:1-2 beautifully expressed in The Message gives us our true escape room:

Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want. (MSG)

We try to escape our suffering instead of going through it like Jesus did. Yet it is that very suffering that brings us our freedom.

Follow Paul’s yearnings in Philippians 3:10:

All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death, in the hope that I myself will be raised from death to life. (GNT)

So when you feel that temptation to go to your escape room, ask yourself:

  • What suffering am I trying to avoid?
  • How is God wanting me to be like Him in this suffering?

Then remember His promise:

 Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want. 

 

Study on Porn Use

A recent study shows that porn use is worse than we thought. And we thought it was pretty bad.

The Barna Group surveyed a representative sample of U.S. adults.

Men age 18 to 30 who viewed pornography more than once a month was 75%!

It wasn’t much better for men age 31 to 49 which was 59%.

Viewing porn more than monthly was relatively the same across all income levels and education levels and specifically was:

  • 69% of Hispanic men
  • 64% of Black men
  • 49% of White men
  • 56% of non-Christian men
  • 52% of Christian men
  • 62% of non-married men
  • 40% of married men

Roughly 1 out of every 5 men either said they were addicted to pornography or were unsure.

Particularly alarming was the rate of women using pornography.

While less than 10% of women over 30 view pornography more than once a month, for women 18 to 30 it was 34%!

Income and education levels also had little differences among the rate women viewed porn more than once a month. Specifically:

  • 14% of White women
  • 12% of Hispanic women
  • 7% of Black women
  • 22% of non-Christian women
  • 10% of Christian woman

However, there is a problem among married women.

  • 19% of married women view porn more than once a month
  • compared to only 10% of non-married women.

Where do you fit in this study?

Maybe you only view pornography a few times a year or even less. Before you think you don’t have a problem, let me tell you that was the rate of my porn use. It still caused me great pain. I never could quit until I started admitting I had a problem and got help. Please do the same. The freedom and restoration of your sexuality is worth the work. Call me at 972-342-0753 or email me. I can help.

As a parent, teacher, or youth worker, what are you doing about this problem among our young adults?

Just this month, I have had three churches and one school pull back from having my pornography presentation because of resistance from their parents about addressing this topic. Their fear is that if we talk about it, the students will become more curious and therefore more likely to try it. There is not a single study that shows addressing sexual issues with young people increases their likelihood to engage in that activity. Call me at 972-342-0753 or email me or submit our online scheduling form. Let’s protect our youth.

2014 ProvenMen.org Pornography Addiction Survey (conducted by Barna Group). The survey results are located at www.provenmen.org/2014pornsurvey/pornography-use-and-addiction.

Dating Apps with Teens are Dangerous for Adults

Deceptive Teens Phone(This is the second of a three-part series on the dangers of dating apps and teenagers. See the first in the series here.)

It is obvious to tell teens on dating apps their vulnerability to sexual predators. What is not so obvious is the danger to adults when teens use these apps.

In June, a Houston man used the dating app Plenty O’ Fish to meet an 18 year-old woman. After talking online for three days, the woman invited him to her apartment. When he arrived, the woman claimed to need to take a phone call. When she left, two male teens approached with a gun. When the man had no money and refused to take them to his car, the teens shot him. The man survived by playing dead and calling 911 when his attackers fled. The girl was only 14 and had done the same scheme with another victim.

In Indiana last month, a nineteen year old man used the app, Hot or Not, to meet a 17 year-old girl (“of age” in Indiana). The two meet and have sex. It turns out the girl was only 14. The girl testified at his trial and admitted lying about her age. She said, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you my age. It kills me every day, knowing you are going through hell and I’m not. I want to be in trouble and not you.”

However, even if the sex was consensual and even if the girl did lie about her age, it is not a defense under most statutory rape laws. After a short jail sentence he is listed as a sex offender for 25 years. As such, he cannot live with his parents because his brother is 15. He is forbidden from using computers or smart phones to communicate with minors the rest of his life.

These stories aren’t just important for adults to reconsider their use of dating apps. Teens need to know them as well. The Indiana story shows what a young teen can do to someone they care about when they lie about their age in these apps.

For a list of these apps see my previous article on dating apps.

ABC 13 Eyewitness News. (2015, July 6). Police: Man played dead after being shot in southwest Houston. Retrieved from News: http://abc13.com/news/police-man-played-dead-after-being-shot-in-sw–houston/831467/
Kasparian, A. (2015, August 5). How a dating app hookup landed a teen on the sex offender registry. Retrieved from Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/2015/08/teen-listed-as-a-sex-offender-for-dating-app-hookup/
Phillips, K., & Fitzpatrick, D. (2015, August 4). How a dating app hookup landed a teen on the sex offender registry. Retrieved from CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/03/us/dating-app-sex-offender-registry/
Shay, M. (2015, July 10). Charges dropped against teen accused of luring shooting victims. Retrieved from ABC 13 Eyewitness News: http://abc13.com/news/charges-dropped-against-teen-accused-of-luring-victims/840675/

R.E.S.T. to Avoid Pornography

Young Couple at Beach at Dusk --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisMy battle with pornography began in the third grade. It is a battle I still fight every day.

Every day? The rest of my life? It sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?

My Lord Jesus Christ gives me hope.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Sounds great, but how does that work?

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” – Mark 14:38

Notice that first word? Watch. It wasn’t just prayer. I am also to watch so that I will not fall into temptation.

Now every day in prayer, I watch for temptation. Since my desire is for Jesus’ REST, I use the word “R.E.S.T” as an acronym to help me watch.

R is for relationships. Is there anything in any of my relationships that is a problem? Wife, daughter, mother, boss, co-workers, friends, customers, etc. Any strife that disturbs my REST? The strife doesn’t have the slightest connection to pornography. However, I may turn to porn to feel better (temporarily!) instead of turning to God.

E is for emotions. Do I have any strong emotions disturbing my REST? Depression, anger, disappointment, disillusionment, anxiety, hurt, nervousness can motivate a turn to porn. I have also learned that strong positive feelings of accomplishment, excitement, and even happiness can lead me to porn as a “reward.”

S is for spiritually. How am I doing with God? Am I surrendering the battle to Him? Am I having my daily prayer time? Am I in the place of servant and He in the place of Lord? If not, I will fail in the battle against porn. He doesn’t fail.

T is for tired. Am I getting enough sleep? How am I doing physically? Hungry? Sick? Hurting? Nervous Jitters? Physical ailments disturb my REST and can take my focus off of God and allow me to turn to pornography.

Fighting pornography every day is a weary and burdensome task. Watch and pray to Jesus. He gives REST.

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.

12 Dangerous Dating Apps for Teens

Woman phone-Masked man(This is the first of a three-part series on the dangers of dating apps.)

A fourteen year-old girl feeling (like most young teens) lonely and unsure of herself, turns to her smart phone.

She installs the app MyLOL claiming to be the “#1 teen dating site in the US, Australia, UK and Canada.” She meets a young teen boy who finally gives her the attention she can’t get at school.

Two months later they arrange to meet for the first time at her home when her parents are away. The young teen boy proves to be a 28 year-old taxi driver. After sexually abusing her, he returns three days later to her school. The girl tells her teacher who calls police who arrest the man.

The police find that he had been in contact with other young girls through MyLOL. He pleaded guilty to six counts of sexual activity with a child and is now in prison.

MyLOL markets itself to 13 to 20 year olds and claims to monitor posts for illegal activity and nudity. However, the age of users is not verified.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) calls MyLOL a “playground for pedophiles.” The NSPCC is

“calling on all teen dating apps and websites to take immediate steps to protect their young users. … For many young people socializing … through mobile phone apps is part of everyday life. So it’s vital that when they sign up to an app they aren’t exposed to adult sexual content or have encounters with adults that puts them at risk of being sexually abused.”

Parents this is just one app of many to keep away from your teen’s phone. Here is a list of teen dating apps that pose this danger:

  • Hot or Not
  • Meetme
  • MyLOL
  • Omegle

Dating apps for adults are also dangerous for teens and are not difficult for teens to bypass their age requirements:

  • Badoo
  • Bumble
  • Coffee Meets Bagel
  • Happn
  • Hinge
  • OkCupid
  • Plenty O’ Fish
  • Skout
  • Tinder

Conway, P. (2015, February 9). 6 Adult Dating Apps Teens Are Using Too. Retrieved from Common Sense Media: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/6-adult-dating-apps-teens-are-using-too

DailyMail.com. (2014, January 24). Teenagers joining ‘playground for pedophiles’ MyLOL website to avoid being checked up by Mum on Facebook. Retrieved from Daily Mail News: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2545658/Teenagers-joining-risky-websites-avoid-check-Mum-Facebook.html

MyLOL. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.mylol.com

Philby, C. (2014, August 11). Teenage dating apps are hunting ground for adult abusers. Retrieved from The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/teenage-dating-apps-are-hunting-ground-for-adult-abusers-9662817.html

Woda, T. (2015, May 1). Teen Dating Apps That Are Bad News. Retrieved from uknowkids: http://resources.uknowkids.com/blog/teen-dating-apps-that-are-bad-news

Cyber Rape

Speak UpAt age 23, Holly had a new boyfriend.

When Holly moved away for grad school, they dated long-distance. “To keep the intimacy alive” she sent him naked photos and a personal sexual video.

However after three years, it ran its course and they had a “normal breakup.”

Several months later, Holly’s naked photos were all over the internet with her full name, email address, job title, where she worked, and other details.

“My stomach just dropped and I felt ill.” Holly worked to remove the photos but they kept coming up on more and more sites.

Then it got worse. She received an email with her photos. “Get in touch concerning your pictures. There’s also a nice video. Have [they] seen them? It’s 8:15 where you are. You have until 8:37 to reply. Then I start the distribution.” The email listed the email addresses of Holly’s co-workers and boss.

Holly did not respond. The photos were emailed to her boss and co-workers and went viral within three days. Her boss called her in to explain. Holly eventually quit her job.

Now three years after the break up, “I felt like the only thing I could do was part from that identity that had been completely defamed.” She legally changed her name to Holly from her birth name.

Six months later she was going to present her doctoral thesis at a conference. Her naked photos appeared on the web with her new name and with the date, time and location of the conference. “They said something like why don’t you go check her out and see if she’ll have sex with you for money.”

Fearing for her safety, Holly backed out of the conference and went to the police. Since she was over 18 and voluntarily gave the pictures and video, there wasn’t anything they could do.

Holly didn’t give up. She went to her state attorney’s office who took her case. Holly, now age 29, became the first person to sue an ex for their distribution of revenge pornography. “It is really cyber rape. It’s just another way of exploiting women.”

(Jacobs, H. (2013, September 8). A Message From Our Founder, Dr. Holly Jacobs. Retrieved from End Revenge Porn: http://www.endrevengeporn.org/?p=422)
(Miller, M. E. (2013, May 9). Miami Student Holly Jacobs Fights Revenge Porn. Retrieved from Miami New Times News: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2013-05-09/news/revenge-porn-miami-holly-jacobs/full/)

12 Stages of Intimacy

Holding HandsAs a teenage boy, I would talk about how far I got with a girl with the terms, first base (kissing), second base (touching above the waist), third base (touching below the waist), and home run (sex). Even as I got married I considered this the four stages of intimacy.

Boy was I wrong.

Desmond Morris discovered twelve stages of intimacy. Couples who followed these stages developed a deeper bond by spending time at each stage. Couples who rushed through or even skipped stages didn’t have as strong a bond and were more likely to divorce.

Deep down teens want a meaningful marriage that doesn’t end in divorce. We can help them by teaching them the Twelve Stages of Intimacy and the importance of spending time at each step.

1. Eye to body. You notice the person. You are interested.

2. Eye to eye. Your eyes meet. You notice each other. You are interested in each other.

3. Voice to voice. You talk. You call. You text. You email. This should be a pretty long stage. You start emotionally bonding.

4. Hand to hand. You hold hands. It may be accidental touch that is kept in contact or deliberate. You are special.

5. Hand to shoulder. You put your arm around their shoulder. This publicizes your relationship.

6. Hand to waist. Your arms around each other’s waist. You know this person about as well as you know your best friend, and you like what you know.

7. Face to face. You hug and kiss. You start physically bonding which is an extension of the emotional bond you have taken time to establish.

8. Hand to head. You run your fingers through their hair. They cradle your face. You stroke their face. This shows a deepening trust.

The following steps are best saved for marriage.

9. Hand to body. This is what I called second base as teen. For obvious reasons, the following steps progress rapidly once started.
10. Mouth to body.
11. Touching below the waist. Third base.
12. Intercourse. Home run especially if you have taken the time bond at the previous 11 steps.

Morris, D. (1971). Intimate Behaviour: A Zoologist’s Classic Study of Human Intimacy. New York: Kodansha America, Inc.