March 3, 2001
AN ''ADOLESCENT WEEKEND''
When my oldest
son, Adam, was 14, I heard about something called an ''Adolescent
Weekend,'' that a friend at church, Reg Jones, described as ''the
greatest insurance you can buy for the Christian upbringing of your
parent of the same gender as the child, takes him or her away to a
resort where you can do two things together: have fun and listen to six
extraordinary tapes by Dr. James Dobson that are designed to help your
child through the most stressful and threatening time of life -
''How would you
like to be 13 years old again?'' Dobson asks. Most adults would say,
''No thanks,'' because they remember their agonizing feelings of those
years of self-doubt, inferiority, and vulnerability to embarrassment,
ridicule or failure with the opposite sex.
Yet parents do
not know how to ease that pain for their own children. What too many
parents - three out of five - do, is give in on demands for a TV in the
child's room. That invites the sewer of MTV to fill their children's
minds with people such as Eminem, the rapper who has sold millions of
''I put lives at
risk when I drive like this/
''I put wives at
risk with a knife like this...
take drugs, rape sluts...''
Weekend'' is a better gift for your child. By taking a whole weekend
off, you communicate how important your child is to you. Dobson's
''Adolescent Weekend'' tapes provide uplifting answers to a teenager's
I drove Adam,
and later, younger sons on their 13th birthdays, to Lake Mohonk, an old
resort in the Catskills on a lake where they played their first game of
golf with me, went fishing, canoeing, hiking, and enjoy wonderful meals.
On the two hour drive we listened to the first of Dobson's six tapes,
which is about what teenagers worry about most, ''that awful awareness
that nobody likes you, that you are not as good as others.''
For example, he
notes that 80 percent of teenagers don't like the way they look. Eighty
percent! When he said that, I turned off the tape, and recalled how
terrible I felt as a teenager because I was 6'7'' but no basketball
player. My sons later said by being vulnerable, I helped them realize
that feelings of inadequacy are universal.
''Develop true friends and your natural interests or strengths so that
you have something to be proud of.'' He also suggested Christians offer
their lives to God in a prayer like this: ''Dear Jesus, I'm asking you
to use me in whatever way you wish. Make me the kind of person you want
me to be. And from this moment forward, I will not worry about my
That was 20
years ago. I asked Adam, now 34 and a Christian radio talk show host in
San Antonio, what he recalled. ''I remember it like it was yesterday.
You set a special weekend aside where we enjoyed hiking, horseback
riding, listening to a piano concert. In the midst of the comradery, I
remember Dobson's Adolescent tapes that were like having a third parent
along, who emphasized the importance of making decisions now about
He recalled that
Dobson said it is almost certain that you will be in a car with kids,
one of whom will pop some red pills in his mouth, and pass them around.
''What will you say? You know they are harmful to your body. Now is the
time to decide whether you will be a jellyfish. Do you have enough
confidence in yourself to oppose the group, saying, `No. That's
''All of our little choices add up to long term consequences. Dobson
said, 'If a rocket ship takes off and is only 1 percent off course, it
will totally miss the target.' The world presents small bad choices as
inconsequential. But in truth, bad choices reap bad habits which reap
bad character, whether it is a matter of staying drug free, or remaining
abstinent till marriage. Ultimately, God has the best for us in mind and
is not some giant presence in the sky prohibiting us from having fun. He
wants us to have the most thrilling and abundant life possible.
''For me, going
on an Adolescent Weekend was a significant step in my Christian maturity
and it helped me to make the choice to stay drug free, to have never
gotten drunk, to have never had sex.... I learned the difference between
puppy love and true love, and wanted to hold out for true love.
helped a father and son, the gender which is not as likely to be
verbally communicative and emotionally vulnerable - to inspire genuine
communication and vulnerability. The tapes are a resource that inspires
both.'' Any Christian bookstore would have them.
Copyright 2001 Michael J.
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