The Antithesis of Fifty Shades of Grey

There is a movie coming out Valentine’s weekend that I am actually excited to see. It is NOT Fifty Shades of Grey.

Old Fashioned looks like the kind of love story that is worth seeing and sharing, unlike the other Valentine’s weekend release.

One is unashamedly lustful and dark, the other unabashedly not. Call me old fashioned, but I find it much more fulfilling to spend my time and money on reminders of the good in life.

Virginity: a Renewed Conversation

Pop culture seems to have a renewed obsession with talking about virginity, ranging from incredulity at Tim Tebow’s public commitment to wait until marriage, to a new TV show, Virgin Diaries, devoted to the subject.  In an age when it seems like “everybody’s doing it,” voices are being heard more and more, saying “I’m waiting.”  In fact, recent research indicates that a surprising number of young people have not been sexually active.  “A report issued last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics found from 2006-08, 29 percent of women and 27 percent of men ages 15-24 had had no sexual contact with another person, up from 22 percent in 2002.”  The article I read referencing that statistic has a couple of quotes from unashamed virgins…one of whom is a young man I met when he attended college with my daughter.  Kevin has become a good friend of mine, and I tell his story to students I speak with about the choice to be abstinent.  They need to know there really are  guys who choose to wait…decent guys…the kind of guy a girl would want to marry some day. In the same article, our program, Amplify Youth Development, even gets a mention, with a quote from our program director about her decision to wait until marriage.

Calling all Dads!

With respect to a teen’s ability to postpone sexual activity, it turns out that dads may have up to TWICE the influence of moms.  (If you are a mom reading this, you might want to forward this to your child’s father!)  A study published in 2009 in the journal Child Development showed that dads’ knowledge of teens’ friends translated to less teen sexual activity.  Even more influential was time spent together:  “The impact of family time overall was even more striking. One additional family activity per week predicted a 9 percent drop in sexual activity.”  What about Mom’s influence? The study hypothesized that Dad’s effect on Mom, supporting childrearing, may be a significant key to understanding these findings.  That brings up the question:  What if a father is absent or uninvolved? It just means that a mother has to be extra aware of her teens’ vulnerability, and encourage other positive influences such as involvement in sports or church (or other religious group), enlisting mentors, etc.

A Holistic View

How is a teen in today’s world going to accept and attempt to live out the concept of waiting until they get married to have sex? Abstinence is a tough sell. Trying to get a young adult to understand the idea of delayed gratification alone is hard, even grown adults have trouble with this. That’s why it’s important to present a holistic view of abstinence education. Here at Amplify we want teens to understand that abstinence is achievable and a very healthy choice aside from the other views.  Now making a case for abstinence isn’t easy and it is important to show all benefits along with the risks of being sexual active before marriage. Our program covers supporting topics such as:

  • The holistic nature of sex
  • The consequences of sexual activity before marriage
  • The pressures around them
  • Healthy Relationships
  • Marriage
  • Goal Setting
  • Character development
  • Personal Testimony which shows the reality of the issues

As we come in contact with teens, our desire is provide the best and most accurate information available along with our genuine concern for their life and their future. This can be a huge challenge for us as we are limited with the time we have with the teens we serve. This again is where you come in. As parents it is so important that you continue this conversation. As you can see there is a lot to talk about and you need to be ready to answer their questions honestly and accurately.


Hey parents ! Just wanted to take a moment to share something inspiring that took place the other week. It’s not to often that we receive feedback from students or see the fruit of our labor. In this line of work… it is truly awesome to get a response like this.

“you came to my school last week with your wife and told us your story I’d rather not give my name, but thank you so much you and your wife’s story changed my life. To see every cause happen to real people was amazing. I’m sorry all of this happened but thank you both for sharing your story!! It honestly did change my life  … Thanks again 🙂 “

Wow! I hope that this lifts your spirits and gives you hope that there are kids out there who are watching and listening to what we are saying. If you have an inspiring story you would like to share, please contact us @

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“Idol”izing Role Models

I’ll admit it: I’m an American Idol watcher. I love the show. My husband is extremely musical and desires to be in the industry, so we watch it together and critique the contestants as though we were the judges.

 I do not, however, love the commercialism of the show. The quantity of advertising annoys me (I doubt anyone likes it), as does the vague uneasiness that whoever becomes the #1 American Idol becomes a sellout. I doubt that David Cook is living the rocker life he imagined before being on Idol.

This season, one other thing that bothers me is the number of single moms that have run through the show. For a while there were three – now we’re down to two. And if I am doing my math correctly, they were all teen moms. Why does this bother me? I think it has to do with how American Idol is focused around “creating” a new pop star to become a package deal “role model” for the American public. The judges always talk about “likeability” – those higher on the scale make it further in the competition. And that means that the winning Idol is chosen because America loves him (or her) and wants that person in the spotlight as an example of success. What is America going to do with Alexis and Megan?

At W4YM, we spend a lot of time encouraging teens to believe that marriage is not only an excellent institution, but that it is necessary, and a very attainable goal for them. I have no doubt that these two single moms work hard and desire a great life for their children. Alexis actually said that she was pursuing this competition because she wanted the best life possible for her child. And I know plenty of great single moms – my own mom was on her own a while.

But I don’t want either one of these women to win. I wonder what kind of great life is in store for their kids if they fall victim to pop stardom. If one of them is chosen, what message does her example send to our teen girls in relation to teen pregnancy, motherhood, and success?

Findings on Marriage

Christmas is only a few days away. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about family. We’re traveling halfway across the country to be with my husband’s family this holiday, and I am really looking forward to it. I love my “in-laws” – they are wonderful, warm, loving people. They are one of the reasons I think being married is great.

Speaking of being married, just the other day I received an update from – the topic this month was a study on the benefits of marriage. They stayed away from the warm fuzzies and focused on pure practicality. Here are just a few of the findings:

1.  On average, married couples are less likely than cohabiting couples to be in poverty.

2.  Over time, married couples—with or without children—have a higher family income, on average, than all other family structures.

3.  Married-couple households have, on average, substantially greater net-worth than households with other types of living arrangements.

 For a full report, click here.

The Value of the Vow

I have a friend whose daughter is pregnant. My friend is waiting for her daughter’s boyfriend to propose. He has asked a blessing, he said he picked up a ring. But there’s no word that he’s popped the question. My friend is hoping for it, waiting. She thinks (in this case) it will be a good thing for both of them. I agree with her.

However, I found this article today discussing how marriage is rare for young women with unexpected pregnancies. I was not sure how I felt after reading it, but I do know I am not sure how I feel about the thought of a young couple marrying for the “sake of the baby”. Marriage is a serious vow, a permanent commitment. It’s sad that it’s not happening. Coming from a divorced family, I know it is also sad when the vow is broken.

 What do you think, parents? How valuable is marriage? In a situation of unexpected pregnancy, what is the best choice? Is it a bad thing that young couples are not marrying to provide a family for the baby? Or is it a good thing, because they may be avoiding future divorce?

Baby Mama

(The following post has been adapted from a blog I like to visit:  Feel free to check it out.)

I was visiting a favorite blog today and (aside from being reminded of those, “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” games I used to play as a kid) found out that Jamie Lynn Spears had her baby and has become a new mom. She’s pictured on the front of OK! magazine, a glowing picture of health and happiness.  See?

 Now, I have nothing against this girl. Honestly. However, I don’t know about you, parents, but this image bothers me. I confess I haven’t read the article, but look at the headline! How are we supposed to teach teens abstinence when this is what they see?

 I encourage you to show this magazine to your teens and dialogue with them about the message it’s sending. What’s positive about this situation? (There are positive aspects to this story, certainly.) What’s negative? What do your teens think about what they see? What is communicated as right or wrong about this situation? How does Jamie Lynn’s experience line up with the experiences they’ve known?

If a good conversation results, try talking like this more often with your teen. It will be good for you both, and may help them swim against the cultural tide.

Teaching generosity

Some kids naturally begin to show compassion and generosity to others, but other children seem to think the world revolves around them. You as a parent can help train your child to be generous and compassionate (and in so doing, you can set them up to have more fulfilling and successful relationships in the future). The best way to do that is to model service and generosity. Here are some ideas:

  • Go with your child to shovel a neighbor’s driveway or mow your neighbor’s lawn.
  • Help your child prepare a meal for a community member or make a card for someone.
  • Volunteer with your child, or encourage her to join a service club like 4-H or Scouts.
  • Pick a week for each family member to do random acts of kindness for another member of the family. At the end of the week, guess who did what for whom.