Flowers Fit for a Funeral!

Growing up, I often heard older people say, “Give me my flowers while I can still smell them.” Many times, this was said after they had attended a funeral and left the funeral wondering whether the deceased had been told before he/she died all of the wonderful things that were said at the funeral.

White coffin with pink sympathy flowers

This past weekend I saw a great example of flowers being given to a person while she was still alive to smell them, and that quote from the older people came alive for me like it never has before.

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Saving Your Child from Driving over the Cliff!

 Fifteen-year-olds are not young adults. They are big kids. They are not ready to make major life-decisions on their own, and they will ultimately hold us adults accountable for not being there to put up a roadblock when they have their foot on the pedal and are [bent] on driving their lives off a cliff.
–Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Red car balancing on the edge of cliff above city.

At a recent presentation, a parent approached me afterwards to thank me for what I am doing and to tell me that I was speaking to her and about her because she was a teen parent. She also said she wished there had been someone around like myself to speak with her when she was a teenager.

What she said next really struck me:

I have been having a lot of problems with my 16-year-old daughter lately. She has been dating an older guy and making some bad decisions sexually.  She really needed to hear everything you said today. She is at home because she refused to come and now I am kicking myself for not making her come.

At this point in the conversation, I am a little confused. I don’t understand how a 16 year old can refuse to go to a presentation that may save her from a lot of pain, heartache and regret, especially when the mother already knows the daughter is making bad decisions in this area. This young lady is living in her mother’s house, sleeping in her mothers’ bed and eating the mother’s food. At what point does the mother step up as a parent and tell the daughter that she does not have a choice about whether she will attend or not?

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The Day I Changed What I Pray!

iStock_000005119542SmallThe other morning I woke up thinking about something that had happened the previous day that changed the way I pray every day.

Let me give you a little background. Before I go into a classroom or an assembly, I pray that God's Spirit will rest upon me as I speak.  I’m aware that His Spirit is always present on the inside of me. My prayer is that His Spirit also rests upon me so the students can sense His presence. I also take authority over every demonic spirit that will try to hinder the students from hearing and receiving my message of TRUTH.

You say the truth and I am happy you tell it like it is because that’s what my generation needs…the TRUTH. ~High School Student

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Are You Speaking Your Child’s Love Language?

HiResI know why girls search for love & try to get it any way they can. My parents never really loved me in the right ways and I have found that this guy does, but I am so desperate for someone’s love. ~High School Student

Does this young lady’s parents love her? I’m sure they do! The problem: They are not speaking her primary love language. In fact, this young lady did not say her parents did not love her. She said they never really loved her in the “right ways,” which has caused her to search for love from a guy.

The search for love in a teenager’s life can lead him or her to make some very dangerous and detrimental decisions. As a matter of fact, my experiences in the past twelve years of working with teens have led me to believe that at the heart of much of their misbehavior is the fact that many teenagers don’t feel loved, and subsequently don’t love themselves. 

Learn to Speak their Language

Watch the video below as Jackie shares information from the book, The Five Love Languages of Teens, in a parent workshop.

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3 Things Teens Say Can Prevent Them from Having Sex!

iStock_000014225228SmallAdults have a tendency to come up with solutions on their own for the issue of teenagers’ bad decision-making. So I decided to survey teens to see what they believe the solutions are. Below are some of the most common responses I received when I specifically asked students what they thought it would take to decrease the number of teenagers having sex:

1. Higher expectations from parents and adults!

I believe that if teens knew that their parents believed in them, parents would not be disappointed. ~High School Student

I have reconnected with many former students who told me the reason they had not had sex was because they didn’t want to disappoint me (not their parents, but me). For many of them, their parents expect them to be sexually active as a teen. I am saddened when I hear them say I have higher expectations of them than their own parents have.

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A Youth Pastor’s Experiences with Pornography

Java Printing

In my last post, I discussed how parents could lessen their child’s risk for exposure to pornography. As I said, it’s not a matter of if their child will be exposed to pornography, but rather when. This week, I will share a very enlightening interview I conducted with a Youth Pastor at a large, prominent church in the metro Atlanta area about what he sees in his interactions with the youth in his church.

It’s bigger than you think!

Jackie: How big of a problem do you think pornography is for teenagers based on what you see in your work as a Youth Pastor?

Youth Pastor: I have no doubt that pornography has become one of the biggest threats and attacks on teenagers today. I think it’s a bigger problem than drugs or alcohol, even more so with technological advances such as, smart phones, iPods and even gaming systems that can access the Internet. When I started in youth ministry 10 years ago, I would sometimes hear about struggles with pornography. As the years have advanced, it’s now one of the top issues I hear from teenagers as far as their struggles and for a lot of them it has become an addiction.

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5 Things That May Increase Your Teen’s Likelihood of Having Sex

mother shouting at doughterIt’s not easy being a parent today. Your teens are inundated with so many competing voices that influence their decision-making. I certainly empathize with the countless number of parents that have reached out to me over the years, seeking advice on how to talk with their teens about sex. Sometimes it’s just as important to know what not to do as it is to know what to do. So I thought it would be great to hear directly from teens.

I believe the following letters will speak for themselves…

1. Yelling:

I thought I was in love with this boy until your class.  My mother has always told me these things, but she yelled so I didn’t listen.  I really want to thank you. Now I will be a virgin until I’m married. 

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Six Things I Learned from a Former Student’s Phone Call

Cell PhoneI received a call Saturday from a soon to be 22 -year-old young lady who served on the leadership team of an after-school club I worked with when she was in high school.  I had not spoken with her since she graduated from high school.

She began by telling me she had wanted to talk with me for a couple years, but had just built up enough courage to call me. She was reluctant to call because she was ashamed of her decision to begin having sex at 19 years old. She was also afraid I would be disappointed in her.

As I listened to her talk about how she was parented and why she made the decision to have sex, I heard some very interesting things that I would like to share with you:

1. Children need rules and want high expectations!

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Fatherless Sons: Exposing the Epidemic and Breaking the Cycle

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For the past two months, I have been hearing a great deal about Oprah’s Lifeclass series on "Fatherless Sons," and was finally able to watch a full episode last night.

It was not long into last night’s show before I realized it would be difficult to watch the entire show without being reminded of the painful stories and letters that I have heard and read over the past 11 years.

One of the stories I was reminded of while watching was a conversation I had with a 9th grade young man four or five years ago. This young man waited to speak with me after class and shared the following: 

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How do children spell “LOVE?”

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