Ways To Teach Right & Wrong The Adolescent Trip

David and Laurie Callihan
Once we reach the secondary school grades, our children should have a clear picture that there is a right and wrong, good and evil, true and false; there are absolutes. Now, it is critical that your children not only know that there is a right and wrong, but to be able to discern which is which, and why.

Puberty, Adolescence, and the Thrills of Parenting Teenagers
Teaching our children discernment is not ever easy. As your child enters secondary school, it is even more difficult because of the additional influences that confront this age level. The effects of puberty are taking their toll. Hormones are engaging while we are trying to teach our young ones to become discerning. It is a double challenge. Learning wisdom in and of itself can be a challenge at any age, and even that much more when emotions get out of balance.

We have a real opportunity as parents to be involved with our teenagers as they learn how to discern things. On the other hand, anyone who has ever tried to motivate a teenager whose hormones are just starting to kick in knows it is a challenge. Teens can want to sleep until noon, become quite obnoxious on a regular basis, and develop hearing impairments (at least they have a hard time listening to instructions even though we clearly know they heard them).

The Adolescent Trip
We have followed the advice of Dr. James Dobson, Ph.D., founder of Focus On The Family who recommends taking each of your children away for an "adolescent trip" sometime between the ages of eleven and eighteen. We have done this with all five of our children. Mom accompanied each of the girls, and dad the boys. We do not regret spending one penny of the money or one second of the time invested in this event for our five children. We took Dobson's Preparing For Adolescence tapes with us and listened to them during the trip. Each of our children chose their trip. Jeremiah went with David to Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania and then to a Philadephia Eagles Monday Night Football game. Josiah went to visit two of his best friends in Philadelphia, after a 9-hole golf outing, followed by an Eagles Monday Night game as well. (David has gotten the benefit of two Eagles wins - a rarity of itself these past few years!) Wesley took a jet ride to St. Louis and joined David at a National Christian Businessman's Committee Conference. (Yes, that was Wesley's legitimate choice. He just wanted to go away on a trip somewhere with his dad.) Rebekah chose a trip to Niagara Falls, staying at a nice hotel and shopping at a mall there. Katie went to a Dude Ranch to spend time with Mom riding horses, swimming, and boating. The parent makes out better than the kids in some respects, as Laurie will attest. She had a great time with both daughters.

The greatest value in this sort of trip is the relationship it reinforces between the young person and the parent. It shows that we value our children. It gives us an opportunity for valuable one-on-one time. And we get to air out some significant issues like puberty, sex, trust, peer pressure, and other issues of critical concern to adolescents. It has been worth the cost to us hands-down.

There are other materials that could be used besides the Dobson series. Another great resource is Family Life Ministries ( They have some great tapes and books to help parents work through the issues of sex, drugs, and life.

Mark Your Calendars and Join Us At the Chat!
For those who want to learn more, we have a special event coming up on Saturday evening , August 5th during our regular homeschooling your teens chat from 11 p.m. to midnight at the homeschool room. Our guest will be Jim Weidmann, who directs Focus On The Familys Heritage Builders Ministry. Jim will join us to talk about the Preparing For Adolescence material and how you as a mom or dad can do an adolescent trip. Join us for what we are sure will be the first of many good conversations on ideas to make your life as a home school family with teens a wonderful time of loving, learning and growing together. See you Saturday night!