In my previous two postings I have touched on topics regarding chastity and dating. Today I want to share a few more treasures that I have discovered and found invaluable while teaching and supporting my teenagers during these adolescent years. I plan on using these resources with both our daughters and our sons.
For a parent just entering into these years and wondering where to start and how to communicate these topics through a solid Catholic view point, we found these booklets "Mother's Little Helper" for daughters and "Listen Son" for sons, an excellent resource. We typically begin reading these to our children around 10 years of age. I have also found that starting around 'Instruction VIII' which is towards the end of Part Two, it is very helpful to read the material from the opposite booklet. This should begin when the child is around 14 years of age. My teenagers found it very insightful to see how their actions could affect someone of the opposite sex. Personally I like the wording in "Listen Son" better.
Another thing to keep in mind is that these booklets were written and published back in the 1930s. I still find the content very accurate and meaningful, but in this day and age and with our family's active lifestyle, discussing these topics only once or twice a year has become very unrealistic.
To begin filling in the gaps, say around the 9th grade, when several of these topics started arising during group social settings, we started using a fabulous book called "If You Really Loved Me" by Jason Evert. This book includes over 100 questions about dating, relationships, purity and chastity.
Now, this is *not* the type of book I would just hand over to my teenager and let them read; Jason does address several topics that my teenagers have not been exposed to yet. Another thing I discovered is that while the questions do not pertain to personal situations, the answers are still very educational, solidly Catholic in viewpoint, and have led into many wonderful and enlightening conversations.
So how do we fill in the gaps with this book? Well, what we have found works really well in our family is for me to go through and pre-read the questions ahead of time, then highlight pertinent information in the answers. About once a week or when situations arise, my husband and/or I sit down with our teenager and we read the question (if appropriate) along with the answer together then discuss the topic in detail. Jason Evert has a special gift for speaking and giving analogies that speak right to the teenager's heart. He makes it easy to have open conversations with your teenagers on these otherwise awkward subject matters.
I have to admit this particular book has been one of the best treasures we have discovered so far and I highly recommend it!
On a more educational level, (starting in 8th grade) I set up a thematic study (about 6 weeks long) using this fabulous book called The Joyful Mysteries of Life by Catherine Scherrer, to begin addressing these topics more formally. This book is another wonderful treasure and even though it comes from a Catholic viewpoint, many of our non-Catholic families have found it insightful.
Another book that Pc1 wanted me to mention that she really enjoyed this year and one she would recommend to her teenage friends (boys or girls) was "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" by Joshua Harris.