A winner and a strategy for talking with teens about purity

Thank you to everyone who shared how they take care of themselves on last Thursday’s post. If you need ideas on how to take care of yourself while you’re caring for your family, you can read all the great ideas HERE!

The winner of the drawing from Thursday’s discussion is Stacy!  Stacy, I’ll send you an email with the instructions for choosing the Hearts at Home book of your choice.

Now for the strategy…

Last night I was cleaning up the kitchen when my 17-year-old starting talking to me about boy/girl relationships.  It was a good conversation and I felt it was time to share the “pie illustration” with him.

This illustration can be shared with any pre-teen or teen who is showing interest in the opposite sex.  A friend shared it with me years ago and I found it helpful with a couple of my older kids when they were teens.

The concept of the “pie illustration” is that each of us comes into this world with a whole pie.  The pie represents our heart which is all of who we are emotionally, physically, and relationally.  Our job before we get married is to keep our pie whole so we can give it to our future spouse.

If we date too early or too much in the teen years, we risk giving away pieces of our pie.  Then someday when we find the one we want to marry, we only have part of our pie to give them.  The parts we gave away may now be replaced with mistrust, hurt, and self-protection—all things that don’t belong in a marriage.

I also shared with him that it is his job as a gentleman to protect the pies of any girlhe is friends with or any girl he likes.  Someday she will be someone’s wife and he needs to be responsible to not take a piece of her pie that she will someday need to give to her husband.

The illustration seemed to make sense to him.  I remember it being effective with a couple of our older kids, as well.

That’s why I thought I’d share it with you.  If you’re looking for a creative way to talk with your pre-teen or teen about purity and making wise choices about dating and relationships with the opposite sex, it’s a good tool to have in your parenting toolbox!

If you’re looking for more strategies for raising tweens and teens check out my book Got Teens? Time Tested Answers for Moms of Tweens and Teens.

Speaking of parenting toolboxes, don’t forget about the free online parenting event I’m “speaking” at starting today.  You can find more info and register HERE.

And it’s still not too late to register for the upcoming Hearts at Home conference in IL. You can find that info HERE.

What about you? Do you have any discussion tools you can share to help communicate purity to teens?

Six Words No Parent Should Ever Say


Did you know there are six words no parent should ever say? These six words—when put together—can almost always make a liar out of you. Want to know what these words are?

My-child-would-never-do-that.

These words will always come back to haunt any parent who ignorantly utters such nonsense. A parent should never underestimate their child’s ability to do wrong. Your child can—and will—make choices that will cause you to wonder if this child really is your own.

When this happens, the most important thing a parent can do is to allow their child to suffer the consequences of their actions. Let the chips fall where they may. Don’t rescue them. Let them fail in the safe environment of a loving family. You might even help them fail…if there’s a lesson to be learned along the way.

It was somewhere around six years ago that my husband and I found out that our high school age child had been skipping several classes on a regular basis. We waited for him to be caught, but it never happened. Mark and I agreed it was time to help him get “caught,” so I promptly called the school principal.

“Hello Mr. Principal. This is Jill Savage. Can you tell me what punishment is given to a student skipping class?” 

“Well, we take that very seriously, Mrs. Savage. Detention is given for skipping class.”

“Mr. Principal, my son has been skipping class and has not been caught. My husband and I would like to arrange that he would be caught and given the appropriate punishment.”

“I think we can arrange that, Mrs. Savage. Thank you for letting me know.”

“Your welcome, Mr. Principal.”

“Mrs. Savage, I must be honest with you. This phone call is quite rare. I receive calls almost every day from parents who want to get their kids out of trouble. I don’t know that I’ve ever received a call from a parent looking to get their kid in trouble. This is honestly quite refreshing.”

Our job as parents is to cultivate character and nurture responsibility. Protecting our kids from the consequences of their actions will increase entitlement and foster irresponsibility. It’s not easy to watch our kids suffer, but it is sometimes necessary in order for them to grow in wisdom.

Detention was served. Skipping class was squelched. And this set of parents was reminded that every child has the propensity to choose wrong.

When have you had to be the parent and let your child suffer the consequences of their actions even when it was hard? 

Parent Strategy: Contracts for Teens

When my kids were little we used chore charts with stars to motivate and hold our kids accountable to carry out their home responsibilities.

As they’ve grown older, we found the need for a new strategy.  And with our two teens at home, we’ve found that contracts work quite well.

I first learned about the concept of contracts when co-authoring the book Got Teens? with Pam Farrel. The Farrel’s had used contracts with their three boys.  We’ve adopted the concept and found it very helpful with homework, cell phones, driving, dating, and more.

As of last week, Kolya now has his driver’s license.  With a license, comes a cell phone for safety purposes.  So this week we’ve drawn up two contracts, one for driving and one for the cell phone. 

Here’s the cell phone contract:

Parents and Teens Contract: Cell Phone Use
I know that having a cell phone to use is a privilege. I respect that my parents love me and want to keep me safe. My parents respect that I am becoming a young adult and want the privilege of having the use of a cell phone primarily for safety purposes when I’m driving and away from home. With that in mind, we agree:

1. I will remember what usage is allowed with our cell phone plan and I will not go over the limits of that usage. My limits are 300 minutes per month usage. Unlimited text.

2. I know that I am required to contribute to the cost of my cell phone. My contribution is: $10/month. Mom and Dad will pay for phone insurance and minutes.  (Jill’s note: it cost us $10/month to add the phone to our family plan and we did not have to increase our minutes.)

3. My cell phone must be turned off at 9pm each school night and 10pm in the summer and Friday and Saturday nights. It is my responsibility to be sure the cell phone is being recharged each night in the kitchen.  (Jill’s note: we learned from experience that allowing them to recharge their phone at night in their bedroom is too tempting for late night usage.)

4. I agree that if I am unable to keep up with my responsibilities, the use of my cell phone can be taken away from me. This can happen even if I have contributed to the cost of the cell phone plan.

5. I will not use my cell phone to take pictures of nudity, violence or other unallowed instances. (Jill’s note: we had picture texts and internet blocked on his phone number.)

6. I will not use my cell phone to call anyone for malicious purposes. (bullying, crank calling, etc.)

7. I will not use my cell phone while driving. If the phone rings or I get a text while I’m driving I will not look to see who is calling and I will not answer it.  If I need to make a call or text, I will pull into a parking lot to do so.

8. I will limit the number of people that have my cell phone number.

9. I will limit the amount of time I am on the phone. These limitations include no texting during meals, when spending time with family or extended family, and when my parents ask me to put the phone away for any reason.

10. Mom and Dad will know any phone passwords and voice mail passwords. I understand that mom and dad have the right to look at my text messages and my phone history at any time they ask.

 The consequences for not following through with these limits on my cell phone use are:

  • Loss of phone use for one week if any part of the contract is broken for the first time.  
  • Loss of phone use as determined by mom and dad if there is a recurring issue.

Signed (Teen) _________________________________

Signed (Parent) ________________________________

Signed (Parent) _________________________________

Date __________________________________________

There are two websites where I’ve found helpful wording for teen contracts.  They can be found HERE and HERE.

One of the keys to contracts is to have the teen help determine the consequences.  We find it best to give them the contract a couple of days before we sit down to discuss it.  We tell them to bring their suggested consequences to the table when we sit down to discuss and sign the contract.  Then we discuss and agree on the consequences, adding them to the contract we will sign. 

Just like toddlers, we’ve found that teens like to know the boundaries.  They respond to structure.  And if the expectations are clearly stated, they are more likely to meet them.  Contracts help to clearly state the expectations and the consequences that will happen if the expectations are not met.

Have you ever used contracts in any way?  Did your parents use them with you?  Do you have any insight to add to this parenting strategy?