Tips For Teens
Prom: Although cosmetic, dress and limo companies have conspired to convince you that this is the equivalent of Cinderella’s ball, your wedding and your ultimate coronation of some distant kingdom that your grandmother Julie Andrews will reveal you are heir to one day, the reality is that people don’t magically transform for one night and actions still have very permanent consequences. Forget everything you learned from “High School Musical” and consider some more practical tips from Family Honor for having fun at prom.
1. Consult your parents as you’re making plans. As your BFF is texting you about ideas for limos, dinners and after-prom parties, be sure you ask your parents what they think and listen to their ideas. The more they know about your plans up front, the less likely you’ll have last-minute disagreements about what you’re allowed to do and where you’re allowed to go.
2. Know your budget—and be at peace with it. There can be a lot of pressure to spend lots of money at a point in your life where you’ll have lots more important—and fun—bills to pay. Be creative with your friends: do your hair and make-up at home and have an older brother or cousin “chauffer” you in your mom’s minivan. You’ll be glad you saved money in the Spring when you can afford those great throw pillows for your new dorm room in the fall.
3. Go with friends you know and trust. Prom is a fun final memory to have with friends from high school. While going with a group of friends may not seem as romantic as going with the handsome stranger you just met, you’ll be able to have a final comfortable night with your friends instead of an awkward first date with someone you realize you’re not that into.
4. Learn to dance! A few weeks before prom, have a sleepover with friends, pick out some popular dances on YouTube and study up!
5. Have a plan. Decide on the particulars of before and after—having a “just along for the ride” attitude can land you in some uncomfortable situations. Be sure you know what the plans are for after the dance, how you will get there and what you will do once you are there. Share these plans with your parents!
6. Speaking of “after”, plan an after-party on your own! Talk to your parents or youth minister. They would probably love to host an after party like breakfast or a bonfire at midnight and provide a fun place for you and your friends to continue to hang out. You won’t know unless you ask!
7. Remember that alcohol impairs your ability to make good decisions, remember these poignant moments with friends and can just leave you feeling pretty sick. Don’t drink alcohol.
8. Have a plan for how you can leave your group if you need to. Know how to make a collect call (in case your phone batter dies) and where you can reach your parents.
9. Remember that nothing changes because it’s prom. Actions still have consequences and you can still lead your peers closer or further away from God. Resolve—before you set foot out the door—that your actions will lead people closer to God.
10. Pray! Pray for yourself, for your friends and for prudence to recognize the right choice and do it!
Read more About Chastity
Chastity: Chastity means being pure in our thoughts, words and deeds. The images, messages and lessons that we take in everyday can affect the way that we think, speak and act. Research has shown that the average teen absorbs between 7-10 hours of media every day. Just like a good diet helps our body to be healthy, taking in good media helps our soul to be healthy.
But how do we do that?
It would be impossible to list all the television shows, movies and songs that you might see or hear even in this one week. However, they will all contain messages—either positive or negative—about your beliefs.
Media is enjoyable, but it may seem like a chore to be constantly listening to what is being said. However, these messages shape how we see the world, each other and our relationships. Just like we wouldn’t eat stale food if we don’t want to get sick, we shouldn’t consume harmful media that might harm our souls.
The best way to monitor this is to form our conscience—our ability to tell right from wrong—through listening to our parents, teachers, pastors, youth ministers and other role models as well as studying further what we don’t understand. It’s also important to pray and receive the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation often. This is a chance to receive God’s forgiveness AND get the strength to do the right thing in the future.
Part of being an adult is doing what’s right not because you might get caught, but because it’s what’s best for you—spiritually, physically , , intellectually, creatively, and emotionally (SPICE). Your parents won’t always know what you’re watching, listening to and reading, but by paying attention to the messages you take in, you’ll be able to ensure that you develop your SPICE attributes in a positive way.
Does this mean we can only read the Bible and listen to “church music”? Those are good things to do—but there are also many good messages and lessons to be learned from other sources. Consider each of the SPICE attributes and how they can be helped or hurt by messages in the media.
Spiritual: Our culture tends to talk about God a lot but can be negative about particular Churches or teachings. As you watch, listen or read, ask yourself:
- What is this telling me about God? Does this acknowledge that He exists and loves me? Or does this deny that He exists?
- What is this telling me about the Catholic Church? Is it making fun of what I believe as a Catholic? Of prayer? Of Mary and the Saints?
- Does this affirm the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Marriage? Does it make me appreciate God’s plan for marriage to be between a man and a woman for their entire lives, or does this message promote something else?
Physical: Our culture emphasizes the importance of our physical appearance. While there is nothing wrong with looking your best, it’s important to remember that we’re created in God’s image, that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and should be respected. As you watch or listen, ask yourself:
- Is this calling my attention to who someone is or what they look like? For example, is this song about someone or a specific part of their body?
- Is this encouraging me to use my body and the bodies of others, as a means of giving glory to God or to selfishly receive pleasure?
- What does this say about being made male or female? Does it recognize that there is a difference between men and women? That there are good things about each gender, that each gender should be respected?
Intellectual: Our minds and ability to understand the world are a gift from God. What we read, watch and listen to can and should strengthen this ability. While we all enjoy idle games and silly humor, it is important that we not spend too much of our intellectual ability on things that are pointless and we should avoid humor that is at the expense of others. As you read, watch and listen, ask yourself:
- Are the messages in this media lifting my mind up to that which is true, good and beautiful?
- Is it encouraging me to think about others or just myself?
- If it’s funny, is it mean or at the expense of others?
- Is this enforcing what I know to be true about God, the Church and the human person?
Creative: The ability to create is a God-given gift that can be used to help and build up others or cause emotional and physical harm. Many forms of media—especially video games—encourage violence or reward points for creative ways to cause destruction. As you watch, ask yourself:
- Is this encouraging me to think of ways to help or hurt others?
- Is this causing me to laugh at or appreciate cruel actions or actions that are kind?
- Is this giving me examples of others who have used their creativity for good?
Emotional: Part of maturity is learning about our emotions and the right way to act on them. When we feel happy, it’s good to share that joy with others. When we’re angry, it means we have to be cautious about not reacting in a way that would be harmful. When you are watching, reading or listening, ask yourself:
- What emotions are the characters or artists experiencing? Are they reacting in a way that is helpful or hurting those around them?
- What emotions does this cause me to feel? Sometimes we feel anger or sadness because we are witnessing something that is a normal part of life (natural death, a disaster that causes suffering) and it makes us more empathetic people, meaning our emotions drive us to pray for and help others. Sometimes, though, media can cause us to be irrationally angry for no good reason (like angry music that yells at people). This does not help us to be emotionally mature.
- Is this encouraging empathy for others or entertaining at their expense? For example, there is a trend in television to show people’s deepest secrets and the intricacies of their emotions on reality shows. While some reality shows can be inspiring, some encourage us to take pleasure in the faults and failings of others. This is not emotional maturity.
- What is this teaching me about friendship? Is it modeling friendship that shows genuine love for others—wanting what’s best for my friends? Or is it showing friendship as a way to use people to get what you want?
Other Tips and things to think about.
Messages about Family: Remember that your family is a gift to you. Sometimes they can seem strange, annoying or quirky, but your parents love you very much and deserve love and respect. Ask yourself:
- Is this encouraging you to respect your mother and father, brothers and sisters? Is it showing you that your family is your ally in life?
- Is this recognizing that marriage is between a man and a woman? That all children are a gift from God? That God’s plan for new life is that it begin from the sexual union of a man and women in the Sacrament of Marriage?
Wondering about something specific? The following websites offer reviews of specific music, movies and television shows. Check them out before you turn on the TV, go to the movies or download a song or game:
- Life Teen’s Culture Blog: http://www.lifeteen.com/category/blog/live-your-catholic-life/music-and-movies Music and Media reviews, as well as social commentary
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: (www.usccb.org) The United States Bishops publish reviews of most movies as they are released in limited or general circulation. They have their own criteria for rating movies that take into consideration the messages the movies are conveying, not just how many times a certain word is said (listed here: http://www.usccb.org/movies/criteria.shtml). The USCCB’s movie reviews are archived here: http://www.usccb.org/movies/movieall.shtml. Also on the site are their Top 10 movies of the last several years, some of which may be surprising. Worth a look!
- Plugged In: (http://www.pluggedin.com/) is Focus on the Family’s media-review site. It contains helpful reviews of the latest in movies, music, television and other notes on culture and media that parents would find helpful.