When my kids walk out the door to spend time with friends, I often holler after them, “I love you! Make good decisions!” After talking to Crystalina Evert at the SEEK2019 conference in early January, I decided to change my parting call to “I love you! Listen to your voice!”
Crystalina Evert is the founder of Women Made New ministries and the co-founder with her husband, Jason, of The Chastity Project. She is a best-selling author, a national speaker on issues of chastity and sexuality, a mother of seven and a rock star Catholic. She is a tiny woman with a big message and her enthusiasm is contagious. She was kind enough to talk with me and answer my questions about navigating these issues with teens.
My first question was how I, as a mother of teens, can impart the value of chastity to my kids when they are surrounded by a society that has largely rejected God and his truths. Kids receive the message that sex is something we are owed, not something we give to that one person we have committed to.
Her message was simple: “Protect. Protect. Protect.” But also educate. Don’t be afraid to be honest. (So maybe those dinnertime conversations about sexually transmitted diseases weren’t a bad idea …) As mothers, we can use our intuition from God. He doesn’t just drop these kids on us, chuckle, and run away. He is with us and desires to help us. After all, they are His kids too.
I wondered how to do that since teens are often convinced that their parents don’t know anything.
Here’s where listening to the voice comes in. The voice of God is the “compass to heaven,” Crystalina said. She refers to the voice as “whispers in my heart.” The voice of God is not just within us as mothers, but within our children. She said they may not want to listen to it because what they want to do is against God’s will. Our job is to help them be obedient to that voice.
Crystalina knows what she is talking about. As a teen, she battled sexual promiscuity and drug and alcohol addiction. “Your voice inside is everything,” she said. Every time she ignored that voice she regretted it.
As we teach our children right and wrong, truth and lies, we lay a foundation. God is in that foundation and while we cannot be with them all the time, God is taking care of them. We can trust in His presence. She also said that we can remind them that we cannot get them to heaven — the end goal. Only they can do that. God is there to help.
What can I tell kids about how to deal with homosexuality and gender identity in our culture? People who follow Catholic teaching are called bigots and homophobes. This is hard enough to deal with as an adult; how does a teenager, who desires peer acceptance handle it?
Crystalina recommended teaching children and teens that their identity is as a son or daughter of God. Identity is not what their desires are. As parents we answer hard questions and it’s okay to say, “I don’t know, but I will find out.” The devil will give them the wrong answers if we don’t provide the right ones. Her website, Chastity.com, offers resources and is a great place to start if you don’t know how to respond.
Finally, we can build trust. Our kids need to know they can trust us. We aren’t going to freak out and run hysterically from the room (even if that’s what we want to do!). If they can trust us to listen and be honest, we can keep the conversation going.
One thing Crystalina emphasized is that it’s never too late to begin teaching, listening and talking. It’s helpful to know we are not alone in trying to raise holy children. Others are out there and God is with us every step of the way. Our Mother Mary will intercede for us and for our children. Crystalina said that Jesus in the Eucharist is a “huge, powerful weapon.” Prayer is a powerful weapon too.
Jesus was clear that following him would be hard. There’s even a beatitude about it:
“Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me” (Matthew 5:11).
Happily, we are not left alone. The Lord’s voice speaks to us every step of the way.
Copyright 2019 Merridith Frediani