Are We Preparing Our Teenagers?

"In their ongoing National Study of Youth and Religion, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that in their survey of over 3,000 students, the Mormon youth were the most successful in avoiding premarital sex and alcohol. They excelled in school and their outlook on life was more positive than the second highest group, conservative Protestants." When I read this article in a recent publication of the Oregonian newspaper, I was troubled to learn that the Mormons are better able to teach their teenagers the importance of keeping their moral values intact than we as evangelicals.

Benton Johnson, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Oregon said, "They have a more religiously articulated home life culture than even evangelical families." Parents, wake up! Listen to the conversation of your family for a few days and see what topics are discussed, especially with your children. We often choose to allow involved issues of spiritual lessons to slide until a more convenient time, which may never come.

Christian parents struggle with the enormity of teaching their children how to apply Biblical concepts to their everyday life.

As our children become teens, this challenge becomes more pronounced. John Bartkowsi, a sociology professor from Mississippi State University, who helped conduct the NSYR study, said he did not see the same rebellion in LDS teens that he did in others.

We want to protect our children from going down destructive pathways, some of which we have traveled in earlier years.

Christian families face the same issues as I did when my children were young, only the problems are more intense and invasive. Our church programs for children and youth have remained basically unchanged over the last 35 years. Perhaps we should re-evaluate our methods and consider adopting some techniques into our programs that are working with the LDS youth.

I am amazed at the level of commitment the Mormon families and churches have to train their youth on a daily basis and to encourage them to study in the church's structured seminary classes. According to the Oregonian, the LDS seminary classes are held every morning of the week before the students go to their respective public high schools. In these classes, they study scriptures and learn how to apply them to their lives. This may be the equivalent to our Sunday school classes. However, instead of once a week, they have a daily time to meet with other teens and get instruction. I have to admire that type of dedication. Just imagine if our young people had the same opportunity, how much stronger they would be to withstand temptations.

  • Are we, as parents, living examples of what the Bible teaches?
  • Is our daily conversation with our family a reflection of our faith in the Lord?
  • Do we discuss the Bible and Biblical teachings with our children?
  • Do we have daily family devotional time where Mom and Dad participate?
  • Have we examined our priorities in light of the limited time we have to impact our children?
  • Do we keep the lines of communication open with our children, even when the timing is inconvenient?

The issues that face our teens today can determine their future. We dare not tire in the effort to equip them with the faith and knowledge they need to make godly choices.

Barbara Lighthizer