Knowing Is Half the Battle

I have that on good authority from a cartoon version of GI Joe.  You can’t argue with that sort of credential.

But who should be doing the teaching?  Now there’s a more interesting issue.  This article from the Christian Science Monitor caught my eye.  It’s a short article on a good topic – teens being taught relationship skills and how to navigate the oft’times treacherous waters of adolescent and young adult dating.  Certainly something that ought to be dwelt on.  But I find it interesting that it’s the government that is doing it.  
I could make a few jokes about the fact that the government is providing tips on how to break up but not tips on skills for making wiser decisions about the types of people you get into relationships with, but that’s  not entirely fair.  A lot of criteria may go into how people find themselves in relationships, but there are comparatively simpler rules of conduct on how to end them.  The problem is that when you’re in a bad relationship, expecting the ending to be better than the relationship itself is probably not a reasonable expectation.  
What kids really need is help in figuring out what sorts of relationships are healthy and appropriate, and what sort of people are healthy and appropriate for them to be in relationship with.  That seems to be a glaring shortcoming.  Is it the government’s job to do this?  I don’t think so – by a long shot.  Traditionally it would be the family and the church – two institutions that have been severely damaged and marginalized in the last century, both by their own foolishness as well as cultural agendas that see both of them as more burdensome than anything.  
How many youth groups in churches talk with kids – not just teens but pre-teens – about relationships?  The church is more likely to promote a program for abstinence and purity, but what about even more foundational stuff about how to wisely choose a girlfriend or boyfriend?  It’s tempting to jump away from that in the name of individuality and freedom, but how is that any more responsible than designing programs to pick up the pieces?  Congregations may prefer to think of parents doing this sort of training, but how realistic is that?  
We don’t have many young adults in our congregation, but they need mentoring and guidance as they make the transition from ‘boys are icky’ to ‘boys are really, really interesting’.  How do pastors and youth leaders open dialogue with parents so that conversations can be had, wisdom and experience can be shared, and young men and women can be given some really good input on how they approach the issue of dating?  Have you experienced such a program as you were growing up?  Are you part of one now as a parent?  How would you react to a pastor approaching you about working together to talk with your son or daughter about these issues, and at what age are such discussions generally (since every child is somewhat different) appropriate?
Lots of good questions that ought to be asked, before the government has to help pick up the pieces.

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