A Child’s Early Years What Should Parents Do?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

WHAT a person learns or does not learn during childhood can affect his future abilities. What, then, do children need from their parents to develop into balanced, successful adults? Consider what some have concluded based on research done in recent decades.
The Role of Synapses

Advances in brain-imaging technology enable scientists to study brain development in greater detail than ever before. Such studies indicate that early childhood is a critical time for developing the brain functions necessary to handle information, express emotions normally, and become proficient in language. “Brain connections are being wired at an extraordinarily rapid rate in the early years, as the landscape of the brain is shaped by moment-to-moment interactions of genetic information and environmental stimuli,” reports Nation magazine.
A baby

Scientists believe that the majority of these connections, called synapses, are made in the first few years of life. This is when “a baby’s potential future wiring for intelligence, sense of self, trust and motivation for learning is laid down,” according to Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, a professional in the field of child development.

A baby’s brain grows dramatically in size, structure, and function during the first few years. In an environment that is rich in stimulation and learning experiences, synaptic connections multiply, creating a broad network of neural pathways in the brain. These pathways make thinking, learning, and reasoning possible.

Baby left alone

Infants left alone without stimulation may not develop as well as others


It may be that the more stimulation an infant brain gets, the more nerve cells get turned on and the more connections are made between them. Interestingly, this stimulation is not merely intellectual, acquired through exposure to facts, figures, or language. Scientists have found that emotional stimulation is also needed. Research indicates that infants who are not held and touched and are not played with or stimulated will form fewer of these synaptic connections.
Nurturing and Potential

Eventually, as children get older, a sort of pruning takes place. The body appears to discard synaptic wiring that may be unnecessary. This could have a profound effect on a child’s potential. “If a child does not get the right kind of stimulus at the right age,” says brain researcher Max Cynader, “then the neurological circuits will not develop properly.” According to Dr. J. Fraser Mustard, the result can be lower IQ, poor verbal and mathematical skills, health problems as an adult, and even behavioral problems.

So it seems that the experiences a person has as an infant can have a definite effect on his adult life. Whether the person is resilient or fragile, whether he learns to think in abstract terms or is lacking in this ability, and whether he becomes empathetic or not can be influenced by his early childhood experiences. So the role of parents is especially important. “One of the most critical aspects of this early experience,” notes a pediatrician, “is a sensitive parenting figure.”

That may sound simple enough. Nurture and care for your children, and they will prosper. Unfortunately, parents know that understanding how to care for children properly is not always so simple. Effective parenting is not always intuitive.

According to one study, 25 percent of parents polled did not know that what they did with their child could enhance or hamper his or her intelligence, confidence, and love for learning. This raises the questions: What is the best way to develop your child’s potential? And how can you provide the right atmosphere? Let us see in the fellowing article. to get the next article please post a comment or subscribe for new hits okay.

How Important Is Early Child Training?

A woman who was 40 years old and desperately wanted a child. During her pregnancy, however, a doctor warned her that her baby could be born with a learning disability. She refused to give up, and she gave birth to a healthy baby.

Shortly after the birth of her son, she began reading to him and talking to him at every opportunity. As he got older, they played games, went on outings, practiced counting, and sang songs. “Even during bath time we played something,” she remembers. It paid off.

While still in his mid-teens, Stephen graduated from the University of Miami with honors. Two years later, at age 16, he finished law school, and according to his biography, he later became the youngest lawyer in the United States. His mother, Dr. Florence Baccus—a former teacher and retired guidance counselor—has devoted much time to the study of early learning. She is convinced that the attention and stimulation she gave her son in his infancy changed his future.
Nature Versus Nurture

A subject of important controversy among child psychologists in recent times has been the role in a child’s development of “nature,” that is, what the child has inherited, and “nurture,” the rearing and training it has received. Most researchers are convinced that a child’s development is influenced by a combination of these two factors.

Little girl typing on a computer

Early life experiences
can influence how a
child’s brain develops


Child-development expert Dr. J. Fraser Mustard explains: “What we clinically now know is that the experiences the child is exposed to in the early years of his life influence how that child’s brain develops.” Professor Susan Greenfield likewise states: “We know, for example, that violinists develop more brain territory for fingers on the left hand than other people do.”
What Training to Provide

Taking a cue from these findings, many parents not only go to great lengths to send their children to the right day care but also spend lavishly on music and art classes. Some believe that if a child practices everything, when he gets older he will be able to do everything. Specialized tutoring programs and preschools are proliferating. Some parents are willing to do whatever they possibly can to give their children an advantage over others.

Young boy playing with paints

Play stimulates creativity
and develops a child’s skills


Does this type of devotion prove entirely beneficial? While it may seem to offer children an upbringing with boundless opportunities, in many cases these children miss the crucial part of the learning experience that comes through unstructured play. Spontaneous play, say educators, stimulates creativity and develops a child’s social, mental, and emotional skills.

Some development experts believe that parent-led play is creating a new type of problem child—micromanaged children who are stressed and emotionally volatile, cannot sleep, and complain of aches and pains. One psychologist observes that by the time these children reach their teenage years, many have not learned to develop coping skills and are “burned out, antisocial and rebellious.”

Thus, many parents are in a quandary. They want to help their children to reach their full potential. Yet, they can see the folly of pushing small children too hard, too fast. Is there a way to strike a reasonable balance? What capacity do young children have for growth, and how can it be nurtured? What can parents do to ensure that their children will be successful?

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT CHAT ROOMS

Sunday, December 21, 2008


“Being shy, I can go into a chat room online and talk with people I normally would not talk to. They have no idea who I am.”- Ali
“In a chat room, you have the feeling that you can say whatever you want.”-Zacon
CHAT ROOMS are “areas” on the Internet where users can have live, two-way conversations via text messages. Chat rooms can accommodate large numbers of people, who can read and respond to each other’s messages.

Some chat rooms are particularly appealing to youthful Internet users. Millions of young people from a variety of cultures exchange opinions daily on almost any subject. Some schools now tap this global resource. For example, with their teacher’s supervision, students in the United States might discuss social issues with fellow students in Spain, England, or elsewhere. Students may even chat about their class project with a qualified engineer, chemist, or another expert. Many people who visit chat rooms, though, are not there to discuss academic subjects. If you have access to the Internet, what dangers should you be aware of? A Hunting Ground for Sexual Predators “I was talking with some people in a chat room,” says Abigail, “when a man asked me if I knew any 14-year-olds. He wanted to have sex with them. He said that he was willing to give them money for sex.” Abigail’s experience is not an isolated one.
The problem of online predators is so widespread that some governments have produced guides on how youths can be protected. For example, a publication of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States warns of individuals who immediately engage in sexually explicit talk. It also warns of those who “gradually seduce their targets through the use of attention, affection, kindness, and even gifts.”
Describing the specific methods used by some of these predators, the FBI guide says: “They listen to and empathize with the problems of children.
They will be aware of the latest music, hobbies, and interests of children. These individuals attempt to lower children’s inhibitions gradually by slowly introducing sexual context and content into their conversations.”
It is not just perverted adults who pose a danger. You also need to beware of youths who are ignorant of or who deride the Bible’s moral standards. Consider the experience of a young man named Cody. He was chatting with other youths online when a girl invited him into a private chat area. She then asked him a sexually suggestive question. Cody had the self-control to terminate the conversation immediately. Because of a natural interest in sex, you may find it extremely difficult to react the way Cody did. Peter, mentioned earlier, admits: “I thought I had enough self-control to terminate a chat session if the subject turned to sex. But time and again, I found myself hanging on and chatting about sexual subjects. I felt bad later.” You may wonder, though, ‘If I hide who I am in a chat room, is there really any harm in talking about sex online?’ Are Online Sex Discussions Harmful? The Bible talks openly about sex. (Proverbs 5:18, 19) Admittedly, humans have an increased interest in sex during youth. So you should talk about sex. You need answers to your questions on this important subject.#
However, the way you satisfy your curiosity about sexual matters will have a profound impact on your happiness, both present and future.
If you choose to chat online about sex, even if it is with people who say they are your friends, your experience could well end up being like that of a young man described in the Bible. Out of curiosity, he wandered near the house of a prostitute. At first, she just talked to him. Once his desire was aroused, though, talk was not enough. “All of a sudden he is going after her, like a bull that comes even to the slaughter, . . . just as a bird hastens into the trap.”—Proverbs 7:22, 23. Similarly, talking about sex online could easily lead to your going after greater gratification. “I was chatting online with someone,” recalls a teen named Philip, “when an immoral picture popped up on my screen.
The person I was chatting with had sent it to my computer.” Once your desire to consider sexually explicit material has been aroused, you may be tempted to pursue your interest further, such as in an adult chat room.% Many who fall into the trap of viewing pornography go on to commit immorality and suffer the inevitable consequences.—Galatians 6:7, 8.
People who want to talk about sex with you online do not have your best interests at heart. These strangers want to lure you into immoral talk—and possibly actions—to gratify their own desires.^ In an attempt to protect his son from a sexually exploitive person, King Solomon wrote: “Keep your way far off from alongside her, and do not get near to the entrance of her house, that you may not give to others your dignity, . . . that strangers may not satisfy themselves with your power.” (Proverbs 5:8-10) The principle behind this advice might be applied this way: Do not get near chat rooms where sexual topics are discussed so that you do not give your dignity to strangers who just want to satisfy themselves at your expense. “Those Who Hide What They Are” You may say, though, that you do not want to talk about sex online.
Like Peter and Abigail, mentioned previously, you might see a chat room as a place where you can express yourself anonymously, without fear of embarrassment.** Even so, there is another danger that you should be aware of.
The anonymous nature of chat rooms could tempt you into becoming deceitful. Abigail says: “I would start conversations with people and then take on a personality to fit the conversation.” Like Abigail, you may be tempted to assume a different personality to fit in with a certain chat room group. You might conform to their standards of language or adopt their interests in an attempt to make new friends. Conversely, you may see a chat room as a place to express ideas and feelings that you think your parents or friends would disapprove of. Either way, you end up deceiving one group or the other.
By pretending online to be someone you are not, you are deceiving your chat room contacts. On the other hand, if you do not express your real feelings and ideas to your family and friends, you are deceiving them. So make an adjustment to these to get God's favor in the day of his judgment.

HOW YOU CAN AVOID DANGERS OF CHAT ROOMS



Some people can chat on the net for more than seven hours, without blinking an eye.
CHAT ROOMS—like any other area where strangers mingle—contain dangers that you need to be aware of. To illustrate, if you visited a big city, you would logically endeavor to minimize any threat to your safety by identifying and then avoiding hazardous areas.

The same logic applies if you must visit a chat room. In the September 22 issue of Awake! two dangers inherent to many chat rooms were discussed, namely, the possibility of your coming in contact with sexual predators and the temptation for you to become a deceiver. There are other dangers that are worth considering. But, first, how are chat rooms organized?
Organized for a Purpose
Chat rooms are usually organized according to topics that attract certain groups of people. Some might be set up for enthusiasts of a particular sport or hobby. Others may be devoted to discussing a television show. Still others might cater to people claiming to belong to a particular religion.

If you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, curiosity might prompt you to visit a chat room that claims to be a place where Witness youths from around the world can make new friends. Finding friends among youths who share your faith is a desirable goal. However, these chat rooms harbor insidious dangers for Christians. What kind of dangers?
Introducing Moral Corruption

“I was in a chat room with a group of people who I thought were all Jehovah’s Witnesses,” says a youth named Tyler. “After a while, though, some of these people started disparaging our beliefs. Before long, it was evident that they were really apostates.” They were individuals who deliberately tried to undermine the morals of those who they claimed were their fellow believers.

God’s Son, Jesus Christ, warned that some of those who followed him would turn on their companions. (Matthew 24:48-51; Acts 20:29, 30) The apostle Paul called such individuals in his time false brothers and says that they “sneaked in” to do harm to those in the Christian congregation. (Galatians 2:4) The Bible writer Jude says that they “slipped in” with the goal of “turning the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for loose conduct.” (Jude 4) He also describes them as “rocks hidden below water.”—Jude 12.

Notice that both Paul and Jude identify the stealthy methods often used by apostates. These Bible writers noted that the apostates “sneaked in” or “slipped in” with the purpose of morally corrupting those in the Christian congregation. Today, chat rooms offer such corrupt ones the perfect cloak for their devious endeavors. Like rocks hidden below water, these false Christians mask their real intent beneath a pretense of concern for Witness youths. But their goal is to shipwreck the faith of unwary ones.—1 Timothy 1:19, 20.

This journal, as well as other material produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses, has repeatedly warned of this particular danger.# Therefore, anyone you meet in a chat room ostensibly set up for Jehovah’s Witnesses is, at best, a person who disregards such counsel. Do you really want as friends those who choose to downplay Bible-based direction?—Proverbs 3:5, 6; 15:5.
The Trap of Isolation

Another aspect of chat rooms that you do well to consider is the amount of time they consume. José, mentioned at the start of this article, says: “I sometimes became so involved in chat room discussions that I missed meals.”

You may not become as absorbed in chat rooms as José. However, to spend time chatting online, you must buy out time from some other activity. The area prone to suffer immediately may not be your homework or your household chores. The first casualty may be communication with your family. Adrian, who lives in Spain, says: “I would leave the table immediately after a meal and go online to chat. I became so hooked on chat rooms that I virtually stopped talking to my family.”

If you are spending valuable time in chat rooms, you may likewise be isolating yourself from those who matter most to you. The Bible provides this relevant warning: “One isolating himself will seek his own selfish longing; against all practical wisdom he will break forth.” (Proverbs 18:1) The strangers you meet in many chat rooms are unlikely to encourage you to live by the practical wisdom found in the Bible. It is more likely that they will encourage you to seek selfish interests and will tempt you to break free from Christian moral standards.

True, one of the lures of chat rooms may be that you find it easier to talk online than to communicate with family members. Your chat room associates may seem eager to hear your opinion on matters and might openly express their feelings. Your family members, on the other hand, might appear too busy to listen to your concerns and may find it difficult to express their feelings freely.

However, ask yourself: ‘Do my online associates know who I really am? Are they really interested in my long-term welfare?’ Members of your family are far more likely to care about your emotional and spiritual health. If your parents are trying to live by Bible standards, they are keenly interested in communicating with you. (Ephesians 6:4) If you respectfully express your thoughts and feelings to them, they may surprise you by responding more kindly than you expect.—Luke 11:11-13.
A father monitoring his son's use of the Internet

Wisely, show your parents your online destinations
Avoiding the Dangers

You may have a compelling reason to access a chat room—for example, as part of a required school project.% If so, you can ensure that chat rooms do not become a snare for you by taking the following simple precautions.

First, avoid using an Internet-connected computer in the privacy of your own room. Doing so would be like wandering by yourself down a dark street in a strange city—you would be asking for trouble. Rather, keep the computer in a public area of the house where others can easily monitor its use.

Second, encourage better communication with your parents by showing them your online destinations and by explaining why you need to access a particular chat room. Also, set a time limit on how long you will be at the computer, and then stick to it.

Third, install computer programs that will help protect you from online sexual harassment by filtering the content of incoming messages. If you do receive sexual solicitations while online, let your parents or teacher know immediately. In some countries adults who know you are a minor yet solicit you through sexually suggestive text messages or other pornographic material are committing a criminal offense. They should be reported to the police.

In addition, never give out your name, your address, the name of the school you attend, or your phone number to someone you meet in a chat room. And never accept an invitation to meet face-to-face with a person you meet online!

Although written thousands of years ago, the words of wise King Solomon are relevant to the dangers posed by chat rooms: “Shrewd is the one that has seen the calamity and proceeds to conceal himself, but the inexperienced have passed along and must suffer the penalty.”—Proverbs 22:3.

PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR LIVING TOGETHER WITH YOUR LOVE

Sunday, December 7, 2008

In respect to the seriousness of marriage, one should not enter into the decision to live together lightly. Since most people's ultimate goal is to become married, living together should only be a precursor to that event, and should only be entered into when both people have that as the ultimate goal.

While living together definitely has its advantages, it can become a crutch to your relationship as well. Taking the time to go over what each other expects from the other before you make these arrangements will go a long way to helping you create the long-term future you desire. And, in the unfortunate event of a break up, you will have some sort of agreement to fall back on.

Answer the following questions together to help you come to a predetermined agreement about the way things should be handled.

  • Who will pay the bills? Discuss what arrangements you want to make regarding the bills. Will you both split the bills? If so, who will be the one responsible for ACTUALLY paying the bills. If one partner is paying the majority or all of the bills, what will the other partner do to have an equal exchange?

  • How will you divide the household responsibilities? Will only one person be responsible for cleaning up? Who will handle the food preparation? What is your idea of a clean home? What is your partner's? Who will do laundry? Will you both be responsible for your own mess?

  • How will you handle private time? One factor in living together to consider is that your privacy will be severely limited. What kind of agreement will you make regarding needing time alone? Will girls or guys nights out be a problem? Will you spend one day a week on your own?

  • What pet peeves really, really, really bother you? You might as well get these out now, BEFORE you move in! Agree on a compromise or solution to handling these.

  • How long do you plan to live together before deciding if marriage is right for you? The purpose here is marriage, so having some general decide or cut your loses deadline will avoid wasted years and keep the ultimate goal in target.

  • What will happen if you split up? Couples tend to make major purchases together. If you split up, how will those things be handled? Who will keep the apartment or house? How will you handle pets, if you have any? How will you handle any bills you are both responsible for?

SAFETY TIP!
Make an agreement up that will include the following things:
-- What bills you are both responsible for. List each one, and add new ones as they come. Trust me you do not want to be stuck in a bad break up and be held responsible for all the remaining bills! Keep all records of payment.
-- What items belong to whom? Avoid any unnecessary problems by keeping track of what belongs to whom. Keep all receipts.

Things you need to know about Condom

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Getting ready, Choosing the right condom
condoms

A number of different types of condom are now available. What is generally called a condom is the 'male' condom, a sheath or covering which fits over a man's penis, and which is closed at one end.

There is also now a female condom, or vaginal sheath, which is used by a woman and which fits inside her vagina. The rest of this page is about the male condom.
What are condoms made of?

Condoms are usually made of latex or polyurethane. If possible you should use a latex condom, as they are slightly more reliable, and in most countries they are most readily available.

Latex condoms can only be used with water based lubricants, not oil based lubricants such as Vaseline or cold cream as they break down the latex. A small number of people have an allergic reaction to latex and can use polyurethane condoms instead.

Polyurethane condoms are made out a type of plastic. They are thinner than latex condoms, and so they increase sensitivity and are more agreeable in feel and appearance to some users. They are more expensive than latex condoms and slightly less flexible so more lubrication may be needed. However both oil and water based lubricants can be used with them.

It's not clear whether latex or polyurethane condoms are stronger – there are studies suggesting that either is less likely to break. With both types however, the likelihood of breakages is very small if used correctly.
The lubrication on condoms also varies. Some condoms are not lubricated at all, some are lubricated with a silicone substance, and some condoms have a water-based lubricant. The lubrication on condoms aims to make the condom easier to put on and more comfortable to use. It can also help prevent condom breakage.
Spermicides and Nonoxynol 9

Condoms and lubricants sometimes contain a spermicide called Nonoxynol 9. Nonoxynol 9 was thought in the past to help to prevent pregnancy and the transmission of HIV and other STDs, but it is now know to be ineffective.
Some people have an allergic reaction to Nonoxynol 9 that can result in little sores, which can actually make the transmission of HIV more likely. Because of this, you should only use condoms and lubricants containing Nonoxynol 9 if you are HIV negative and know that your partner is too. However, using a condom (even if it contains Nonoxynol 9) is much safer than having unprotected sex.
What shapes are there and which should I choose? What about flavoured condoms?
condom

Condoms come in a variety of shapes. Most have a reservoir tip although some do have a plain tip. Condoms may be regular shaped (with straight sides), form fit (indented below the head of the penis), or they may be flared (wider over the head of the penis).

Ribbed condoms are textured with ribs or bumps, which can increase sensation for both partners. Condoms also come in a variety of colours.

It's up to you which shape you choose. All of the differences in shape are designed to suit different personal preferences and enhance pleasure. It is important to communicate with your partner to be sure that you are using condoms that satisfy both of you.
Some condoms are flavoured to make oral sex more enjoyable. They are also safe to use for penetrative sex as long as they have been tested and approved.
What about the condom size?

Condoms are made in different lengths and widths, and different manufacturers produce varying sizes.

There is no standard length for condoms, though those made from natural rubber will in addition always stretch if necessary to fit the length of the man's erect penis.

The width of a condom can also vary. Some condoms have a slightly smaller width to give a "closer" fit, whereas others will be slightly larger. Condom makers have realised that different lengths and widths are needed and are increasingly broadening their range of sizes.

The brand names will be different in each country, so you will need to do your own investigation of different names. There is no particular best brand of condom.
So when do you use a condom?

You need to use a new condom every time you have sexual intercourse. Never use the same condom twice. Put the condom on after the penis is erect and before any contact is made between the penis and any part of the partner's body. If you go from anal intercourse to vaginal intercourse, you should consider changing the condom.
Where can I get condoms?

There are no age limitations on buying condoms. Buying a condom no matter how old you are shows that you are taking responsibility for your actions. Family planning and sexual health clinics provide condoms free of charge. Condoms are available to buy from supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol/gas stations. Vending machines selling condoms are found in toilets at many locations. You can also order then online from different manufacturers and distributors.
How can I check a condom is safe to use?

Condoms that have been properly tested and approved carry the British Standard Kite Mark or the EEC Standard Mark (CE). In the USA, condoms should be FDA approved, and elsewhere in the world, they should be ISO approved. To find out more about condom testing see our Condoms history, effectiveness and testing page.

Condoms have an expiration (Exp) or manufacture (MFG) date on the box or individual package that tells you when it is safe to use the condom until. It's important to check this when you use a condom. You should also make sure the package and the condom appear to be in good condition.
Condoms can deteriorate if not stored properly as they are affected by both heat and light. So it's best not to use a condom that has been stored in your back pocket, your wallet, or the glove compartment of your car. If a condom feels sticky or very dry you shouldn't use it as the packaging has probably been damaged.
How do you use a condom?
condoms

Open the condom package at one corner being careful not to tear the condom with your fingernails, your teeth, or through being too rough. Make sure the package and condom appear to be in good condition, and check that if there is an expiry date that the date has not passed.

Place the rolled condom over the tip of the hard penis, and if the condom does not have a reservoir top, pinch the tip of the condom enough to leave a half inch space for semen to collect. If the man is not circumcised, then pull back the foreskin before rolling on the condom.

Pinch the air out of the condom tip with one hand and unroll the condom over the penis with the other hand. Roll the condom all the way down to the base of the penis, and smooth out any air bubbles. (Air bubbles can cause a condom to break).

If you want to use some extra lubrication, put it on the outside of the condom. But always use a water-based lubricant (such as KY Jelly or Liquid Silk) with latex condoms, as an oil-based lubricant will cause the latex to break.

The man wearing the condom doesn't always have to be the one putting it on - it can be quite a nice thing for his partner to do.
What do you do if the condom won't unroll?
unrolled condom

The condom should unroll smoothly and easily from the rim on the outside. If you have to struggle or if it takes more than a few seconds, it probably means that you are trying to put the condom on upside down. To take off the condom, don't try to roll it back up. Hold it near the rim and slide it off. Then start again with a new condom.
When do you take off the condom?

Pull out before the penis softens, and hold the condom against the base of the penis while you pull out, so that the semen doesn't spill. Condom should be disposed properly for example wrapping it in a tissue and throwing it away. It's not good to flush condoms down the toilet - they're bad for the environment.
What do you do if a condom breaks?

If a condom breaks during sexual intercourse, then pull out quickly and replace the condom. Whilst you are having sex, check the condom from time to time, to make sure it hasn't split or slipped off. If the condom has broken and you feel that semen has come out of the condom during sex, you should consider getting emergency contraception such as the morning after pill.
What condoms should you use for anal intercourse?

With anal intercourse more strain is placed on the condom. You can use stronger condoms (which are thicker) but standard condoms are just as effective as long as they are used correctly with plenty of lubricant. Condoms with a lubricant containing Nonoxynol 9 should NOT be used for anal sex as Nonoxynol 9 damages the lining of the rectum increasing the risk of HIV and other STD transmission.
Is using a condom effective?

If used properly, a condom is very effective at reducing the risk of being infected with HIV during sexual intercourse. Using a condom also provides protection against other sexually transmitted diseases, and protection against pregnancy. In the laboratory, latex condoms are very effective at blocking transmission of HIV because the pores in latex condoms are too small to allow the virus to pass through. However, outside of the laboratory condoms are less effective because people do not always use condoms properly. To find out more about the effectiveness of condoms, go to our Condom history, effectiveness and testing page.
How do you dispose of a used condom?

All condoms should be disposed of by wrapping in tissue or toilet paper and throwing them in the bin. Condoms should not be flushed down the toilet as they may cause blockages in the sewage system and pollution.
Latex condoms are made mainly from latex with added stabilizers, preservatives and vulcanizing (hardening) agents. Latex is a natural substance made form rubber trees, but because of the added ingredients most latex condoms are not biodegradable. Polyurethane condoms are made from plastic and are not biodegradable. Biodegradable latex condoms are available from some manufacturers.
How can I persuade my partner that we should use a condom?

It can be difficult to talk about using condoms. But you shouldn't let embarrassment become a health risk. The person you are thinking about having sex with may not agree at first when you say that you want to use a condom when you have sex. These are some comments that might be made and some answers that you could try...
EXCUSE ANSWER
Don't you trust me? Trust isn't the point, people can have infections without realising it
It does not feel as good with a condom I'll feel more relaxed, If I am more relaxed, I can make it feel better for you.
I don't stay hard when I put on a condom I'll help you put it on, that will help you keep it hard.
I don't have a condom with me. I do.
I am afraid to ask him to use a condom. He'll think I don't trust him. If you can't ask him, you probably don't trust him.
I can't feel a thing when I wear a condom Maybe that way you'll last even longer and that will make up for it
I don't stay hard when I put on a condom I'll help you put it on, that will help you keep it
I don't have a condom with me I do
It's up to him...it's his decision It's your health. It should be your decision too!
I'm on the pill, you don't need a condom I'd like to use it anyway. It will help to protect us from infections we may not realise we have.
It just isn't as sensitive and I can't feel a thing Maybe that way you will last even longer and that will make up for it
Putting it on interrupts everything Not if I help put it on
I guess you don't really love me I do, but I am not risking my future to prove it
I will pull out in time Women can get pregnant and STDs from pre-ejaculate
But I love you Then you'll help us to protect ourselves.
Just this once Once is all it takes

There are many reasons to use condoms when having sex. You could go through these reasons with your partner and see what she/he thinks.
Reasons to use condoms

1. Condoms are the only contraceptive that also helps prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including HIV when used properly and consistently.
2. Condoms are one of the most reliable methods of birth control when use properly and consistently.
3. Condoms have none of the medical side-effects of some other birth control methods may have.
4. Condoms are available in various shapes, colours, flavours, textures and sizes - to increase the fun of making love with condoms.
5. Condoms are widely available in pharmacies, supermarkets and convenience stores. You don't need a prescription or have to visit a doctor.
6. Condoms make sex less messy.
7. Condoms are user friendly. With a little practice, they can also add confidence to the enjoyment of sex.
8. Condoms are only needed when you are having sex unlike some other contraceptives which require you to take or have them all of the time.

Here are also some tips that can help you to feel more confident and relaxed about using condoms.
Confidence tips

* Keep condoms handy at all times. If things start getting steamy - you'll be ready. It's not a good idea to find yourself having to rush out at the crucial moment to buy condoms - at the height of the passion you may not want to.
* When you buy condoms, don't get embarrassed. If anything, be proud. It shows that you are responsible and confident and when the time comes it will all be worthwhile. It can be more fun to go shopping for condoms with your partner or friend. Nowadays, it is also easy to buy condoms discreetly on the internet.
* Talk with your partner about using a condom before having sex. It removes anxiety and embarrassment. Knowing where you both stand before the passion stands will make you lot more confident that you both agree and are happy about using a condom.
* If you are new to condoms, the best way to learn how to use them is to practice putting them on by yourself or your partner. It does not take long to become a master.
* If you feel that condoms interrupt you passion then try introducing condoms into your lovemaking. It can be really sexy if your partner helps you put it on or you do it together.

What you should do if you have condom breakage during Sex.

How frequent is condom breakage/slippage? International research indicates that male condom breakage ranges from zero to 12 percent, with both breakage and slippage occurring around 2 percent of the time. The percent of condoms that slip off the penis during or after intercourse is similar.

A 1993 FHI study showed that most condom users rarely experience condom breakage and/or slippage. A small group of users is often responsible for a majority of the breaks and slips. In the study, 177 couples used 1,947 condoms and reported a combined breakage/slippage rate of 8.7 percent. If every couple were equally likely to experience condom breakage/slippage, then each couple would have been expected to have about 1 out of 11 condoms either break or slip off. However, in this study, 16 couples (less than 10 percent of participants) were responsible for 50 percent of all the breakage/slippage. Well over half the couples did not experience any condom breakage/slippage among the 11 condoms each couple used.
Observed vs. Expected Number of
Condom Breakage/Slippage 177 Couples

Number per Couples Observed # of Couples Expected # of Couples
0 110 65
1 26 68
2 17 33
3 8 9
4+ 16 2
In this study, four factors for men were significantly associated with increased condom breakage and slippage:
  • no condom experience in the past year;
  • condom breakage in the past year;
  • not living with partner;
  • 12 or fewer years of schooling.
Several other reasons for condom failure have been mentioned in the literature:
  • opening the package with sharp objects or teeth;
  • incorrect methods of putting on the condom, such as pulling it on like a sock;
  • use of oil-based lubricant;
  • lengthy and vigorous intercourse;
  • using condoms for non-vaginal intercourse;
  • not holding rim of condom during withdrawal;
  • re-use of condoms.
In addition to presenting overall percentages of breakage and slippage, it also may be informative to present their distribution among study participants (i.e., the percentage of users with no breaks, the percentage with one break, etc.). This illustrates that for a majority of condom users, condom breakage and slippage are rare events.

It is equally important to understand that not all breakage/slippage exposes the condom user to the same risks. Researchers have begun to distinguish between clinical and non-clinical breakage. Clinical breakage occurs when condoms break during intercourse or withdrawal and are the only type of break that directly put the couple at risk of pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Nonclinical breaks occur when opening the package and putting on the condom and do not expose the couple to pregnancy or STD. In a recent review of ten FHI condom studies, about one-third of the breaks were classified as non-clinical.

Although the condom literature mentions relatively high breakage and slippage rates, it is important to remember that:
  • these rates may be caused by certain behaviors and certain characteristics of a very small proportion of users;
  • about one-third of the breaks do not put the users at risk of pregnancy and disease transmission because they occur prior to intercourse.
Condoms are an effective method of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases if they are used correctly and consistently during each act of intercourse. The dissemination of condom use instructions must be a high priority in service delivery programs to assure that maximum protection is provided by the use of condoms.
Condom Instructions
A multitude of condom instructions have been developed over the years by various organizations. The following instructions are based on FHI research findings.

Follow these guidelines for proper use:
  • Carefully open package so condom does not tear.
  • Do not unroll condom before putting it on.
  • Put the condom on end of hard penis.
  • Unroll condom until it covers all of penis.
  • Always put condom on before entering partner.
  • After ejaculation (coming), hold rim of condom and pull penis out before penis gets soft.
  • Slide condom off without spilling liquid (semen or come) inside.
  • Throw away or bury condom.
Other considerations:
  • Do not use grease, oils, lotions or petroleum jelly to make condoms slippery, only use a jelly or cream that does not have oil in it.
  • Use a condom each time you have sex.
  • Use a condom only once.
  • Store condoms in a cool, dry place.
  • Do not use condoms that may be old or damaged; do not use a condom if:
    • the package is broken
    • the condom is brittle or dried out
    • the color is uneven or changed
    • it is unusually sticky

What’s Wrong With Dating Secretly?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Jessica* was caught in a dilemma. It all started when a classmate named Jeremy began showing interest in her. “He was very cute,” she says, “and my friends said he was the most decent boy I’d ever meet. Several girls had tried to start a relationship with him, but he wasn’t interested in them. He liked only me.”

Before long, Jeremy asked Jessica out. Jessica says: “I explained to him that as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I wouldn’t be allowed to date someone who wasn’t of my faith. But then Jeremy had an idea. He asked, ‘Why can’t we just date behind your parents’ backs?’”

Related topics:

* What if I'm Invited to “Hook Up”?
* Why Am I Drawn to the Wrong People?


IF SOMEONE you were attracted to made such a suggestion, how would you respond? You might be surprised to learn that, at first, Jessica went along with Jeremy’s plan. “I was convinced that if I dated him, I could make him learn to love Jehovah,” she says. How did things turn out? We’ll find out later. First, let’s see how even an otherwise exemplary Christian youth like Jessica could unwittingly get caught in the snare of secret dating.
Why They Do It

Some youths pair off at an early age. “I have seen children with boyfriends and girlfriends at 10 or 11!” says Susan, in Britain. Why are they so eager? The natural attraction of the opposite sex and a dose of peer pressure—often that’s all it takes. “Your hormones are rushing and everyone else at school is going out with someone,” says Lois, in Australia.

But why do some date secretly? “Probably they’re scared of what their parents will say,” says Jeffrey, in Britain. David, in South Africa, feels similarly. “They know their parents would not approve,” he says, “so they don’t tell them.” A girl in Australia named Jane points out another possibility. “Secret dating is a rebellion thing,” she says. “If you feel that you’re not being treated like the young adult you think you are, you decide that you’re going to do what you want and just not tell your parents. Keeping it a secret is easy.”

Of course, the Bible commands you to obey your parents. (Ephesians 6:1) And if your parents object to your dating, they must surely have good reasons. For example, if they are Jehovah’s Witnesses, your parents would want you to date only a fellow believer—and then only when both of you are in a position to consider marriage.# Don’t be surprised, though, if you find yourself thinking:

* I feel left out because everyone is dating except me.
* I’m attracted to someone who doesn’t share my faith.
* I would like to go out with a fellow Christian, even though I’m too young to marry.

You probably know what your parents would say about these statements. And deep down, you know that your parents are right. Still, you may feel like Manami, in Japan, who says: “The pressure to date is so strong that I sometimes doubt my stand. For kids today it’s unthinkable not to be dating.” Some in that situation have begun to date and have hidden the matter from their parents. How?
“We Were Told to Keep It a Secret”

The very term “secret dating” suggests a measure of deception. Some keep their dating secret by communicating primarily over the phone or the Internet. In public they are just friends, while their e-mails, text messages, and phone calls tell a completely different story.

Caleb, in Nigeria, reveals another sly tactic. “Some youths who secretly date use code words and nicknames when they are talking among their peers so that others will not grasp what they’re talking about,” he says. Another method is to arrange for a group activity, only to pair off later. James, in Britain, says: “Once, a group of us were invited to meet at a location, only to discover that the whole thing had been set up so that two in the group could be together. We were told to keep it a secret.”

Frequently, as James points out, secret dating is carried out with the cooperation of friends. “At least one friend knows about the situation but chooses not to say anything because of a ‘don’t-tell’ mentality,” says Carol, in Scotland.

Often, blatant dishonesty is involved. “Many keep their dating secret by lying to their parents about where they go,” says Beth, in Canada. Misaki, in Japan, admits that she did just that. “I had to make up stories carefully,” she says. “I was cautious not to tell any lies other than those related to my dating so that I would not lose my parents’ trust.”
The Pitfalls of Secret Dating

If you are tempted to date secretly—or if you are already doing so—you need to consider the following.

Where will my deceitful course lead? Do you intend to marry the person reasonably soon? “Dating without the intention of marriage is like advertising something you’re not selling,” says Evan, in the United States. Proverbs 13:12 says: “Expectation postponed is making the heart sick.” Do you really want to make someone you care about sick at heart?

How does Jehovah God feel about what I am doing? The Bible says that “all things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of him with whom we have an accounting.” (Hebrews 4:13) So if you’re covering up your own dating—or that of a friend—Jehovah already knows about it. And if deception is involved, you have good reason to be concerned. Jehovah God feels strongly about lying. Indeed, “a false tongue” is listed prominently in the Bible among the things that he detests.—Proverbs 6:16-19.

Really, if you date secretly, you rob yourself of the protection that you can have when your relationship is aboveboard, out in the open. Not surprisingly, some who secretly date fall into sexual misconduct. Jane, in Australia, tells of a friend who secretly dated a boy from school and led a double life. “By the time her dad found out she had a boyfriend, she was pregnant,” Jane says.

Certainly, you would do well to talk to your parents or a mature Christian adult about any secret relationship that you may be involved in. And if you have a friend who is dating secretly, do not share in his or her course by helping to cover it up. (1 Timothy 5:22) After all, how would you feel if the relationship had harmful consequences? Would you not be at least partly responsible? Suppose a friend who is diabetic is secretly eating sweets. What if you found out about it, but your friend begged you not to tell anyone? What would be your most important concern—covering up for your friend or taking action that could possibly save his or her life?

The same is true if you know someone who is dating secretly. Don’t worry about permanently ruining your friendship! In time, a true friend will realize that you were acting in his or her best interests.—Proverbs 27:6.
Secrecy or Privacy?

Not all secrecy surrounding dating involves deception. Suppose that a young man and woman who are of an age to get married would like to become better acquainted but that for a time they wish to maintain a measure of privacy. Perhaps, as a young man named Thomas said, “they don’t want to be teased with questions like, ‘So when are you getting married?’”

Undue pressure from others can indeed be harmful. (Song of Solomon 2:7) Therefore, at the initial stage of a relationship, some couples may well choose to be discreet—while being careful not to isolate themselves. (Proverbs 10:19) “This gives two people time to decide if they’re serious about each other,” says 20-year-old Anna. “If they are, then they can go public.”

At the same time, it would be wrong to hide your relationship from those who have a right to know about it, such as your parents or the parents of the person you are dating. If you cannot be open about your dating, you should ask yourself why. Is your case similar to Jessica’s that was mentioned at the outset of this article? Do you know in your heart that your parents would have valid reasons to object?
“I Knew What I Had to Do”

Jessica, mentioned at the outset, changed her mind about dating secretly when she heard the experience of another Christian who was in the same situation. “After hearing how she broke off the relationship,” Jessica says, “I knew what I had to do.” Was breaking up easy? No! “This was the only boy I had ever really liked,” Jessica says. “I cried every day for several weeks.”

Yet, Jessica knew something else—that she loved Jehovah and that although she had got sidetracked, she truly wanted to do what was right. In time, the pain of breaking up subsided. “Now,” Jessica says, “my relationship with Jehovah is better than ever. I’m so grateful that he gives us the direction we need at just the right time!”

* Some names in this article have been changed.

# See the article “Young People Ask . . . When Can I Start Dating?” appearing in our issue of January 2007.
TO THINK ABOUT

* Look back at the three situations highlighted in bold [above]. Which, if any, of these describes how you feel at times?
* How can you address the matter without dating secretly?

More articles from the “Young People Ask . . .” series can be found at www.watchtower.org/ype
A NOTE TO PARENTS

After reading the preceding article, you may wonder, ‘Would my son or daughter date behind my back?’ Note what a number of youths told Awake! about why some may be tempted to date secretly, and then think about the accompanying questions.

“Some kids aren’t finding comfort at home, so they decide to lean on a boyfriend or girlfriend.”—Wendy.

As a parent, how can you make sure that the emotional needs of your children are adequately cared for? Are there improvements you can make in this regard? If so, what are they?

“When I was 14, an exchange student asked me to be his girlfriend. I agreed. I thought it would be nice to have a guy put his arms around me.”—Diane.

If Diane were your daughter, how would you address this issue?

“Mobile phones make secret dating easy. Parents have no idea what is going on!”—Annette.

What precautions can you take when it comes to your children’s use of cell phones?

“Secret dating is much easier when parents don’t keep a close enough eye on what their children are doing and with whom.”—Thomas.

Are there ways you can be more a part of your teenager’s life and still allow him or her appropriate freedoms?

“Often parents aren’t home when their children are. Or they are too trusting about letting their children go places with other people.”—Nicholas.

Think of your child’s closest associate. Do you really know what their activities involve when they are together?

“Secret dating can happen when parents are overly strict.”—Paul.

Without compromising Bible laws and principles, how can you “let your reasonableness become known”?—Philippians 4:5.

“In my early teens, I had low self-esteem and I craved attention. I began e-mailing a boy in a neighboring congregation and fell in love. He made me feel special.”—Linda.

Can you think of some healthier ways that Linda’s needs could have been fulfilled at home?

Why not use this article as a basis for discussion with your son or daughter? The best countermeasure to secrecy is heartfelt and forthright communication. It takes time and patience to discern the needs of a young person, but the rewards make the effort worthwhile.—Proverbs 20:5.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH PREMARITAL SEX


CAN you relate to the way Jordon and Kelly feel? After all, traditional customs and values that once discouraged premarital sex are all but gone. (Hebrews 13:4) A survey in one Asian country revealed that the majority of 15- to 24-year-old males felt that premarital intercourse was not only accepted but expected of them. Little wonder that throughout the world most young people have had sex before they reach 19 years of age. Then there are youths who refrain from intercourse but who engage in so-called sexual alternatives, such as fondling one another’s sexual organs (sometimes called mutual masturbation). A disturbing report in The New York Times reveals that “oral sex has become a commonplace initiation into sexual activity, widely perceived by many young people as less intimate, and less risky, than intercourse . . . [and] as a means of avoiding pregnancy and of preserving their virginity.” Just how should a Christian view premarital sex? And what about so-called alternatives to intercourse? Are they acceptable to God? Are they safe? And do they really preserve one’s virginity? If a youth engaged in any form of fornication, could he or she be considered a virgin in God’s eyes? What Fornication Includes An authoritative answer to these questions can come only from our Creator—Jehovah God. And in his Word he tells us to “flee from fornication.” (1 Corinthians 6:18) Just what does that mean? The Greek word translated “fornication” is not restricted to sexual intercourse but includes a variety of lewd acts. So if two unmarried people engage in oral sex or in fondling each others’ reproductive organs, they are guilty of fornication. But could they still be considered virgins—that is, in God’s eyes? In the Bible the word “virgin” is used as a symbol of moral purity. (2 Corinthians 11:2-6) But it is also used in a physical sense. The Bible tells of a young woman named Rebekah. It says that she was “a virgin, and no man had had sexual intercourse with her.” (Genesis 24:16) Interestingly, in the original Hebrew, the word for “intercourse” evidently included other acts besides normal man/woman intercourse. (Genesis 19:5) So, according to the Bible, if a youth engaged in any form of fornication, he or she could hardly be considered a virgin. The Bible exhorts Christians to flee not only from fornication itself but also from all forms of unclean conduct that could lead to it.# (Colossians 3:5) Others may ridicule you for taking such a stand. “‘You don’t know what you’re missing!’ is what I heard all through high school,” says a Christian youth named Kelly. However, premarital sex is nothing more than the “temporary enjoyment of sin.” (Hebrews 11:25) It can cause lasting physical, emotional, and spiritual harm. Serious Threats The Bible tells us that King Solomon once observed a young man being seduced into premarital sex. Solomon compared the young man to “a bull that comes even to the slaughter.” A bull that is to be butchered seems to have no idea what is about to happen to it. Young ones who engage in premarital sex often behave similarly—they seem to show little or no awareness that there are serious consequences to their actions! Solomon said of that young man: “He has not known that it involves his very soul.” (Proverbs 7:22, 23) Yes, your “soul”—your life—is at stake. For example, each year millions of youths contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD). “When I found out I had herpes, I wanted to run away,” says Lydia. She laments, “It is a painful disease that will never go away.” Over half of all new HIV infections worldwide (6,000 a day) occur among those who are between 15 and 24 years of age. A doctor informing a young man that he has a sexually transmitted disease Those engaging in premarital sex risk contracting a sexually transmitted disease Females are particularly vulnerable to a host of problems related to premarital sex. In fact, the threat of STDs (as well as HIV) is higher for females than for males. If a young girl becomes pregnant, she places herself and her unborn child at further risk. Why? Because a young girl’s body may not have developed to the point of being able to handle childbirth safely. Even if a teen mother escapes severe health consequences, she must still face the serious responsibilities that parenthood brings. Many girls find that fending for themselves and for a newborn infant is far more difficult than they had imagined. Then there are the spiritual and emotional aftereffects. King David’s sexual sin endangered his friendship with God and nearly led to his spiritual ruin. (Psalm 51) And while David recovered spiritually, he suffered the consequences of his sin for the rest of his life. Young ones today can suffer similarly. For example, when she was only 17 years old, Cherie became physically intimate with a boy. She thought he loved her. Years later, she still regrets her actions. She laments: “I took Bible truths for granted and suffered the consequences. I lost Jehovah’s favor, and that was devastating.” A youth named Trish similarly admits: “Premarital sex was the biggest mistake of my life. I would do anything just to be a virgin again.” Yes, emotional wounds can linger for years, causing stress and heartache. Premarital sex can wound the conscience of a God-fearing youth Learning Self-Control Young Shanda raises an important question, “Why would God give young people sexual desires, knowing that they should not use them until after marriage?” It is true that sexual desires can be particularly strong during “the bloom of youth.” (1 Corinthians 7:36) In fact, teenagers may experience sudden sexual arousal for no seeming reason. But this is not something wicked. It is a normal part of the development of the reproductive system.% It is also true that Jehovah designed sexual relations to be pleasurable. This was in harmony with his original purpose for humans to populate the earth. (Genesis 1:28) Nevertheless, God never intended for us to misuse our procreative powers. “Each one of you should know how to get possession of his own vessel in sanctification and honor,” says the Bible. (1 Thessalonians 4:4) To act upon every sexual desire would be, in a sense, as foolish as hitting someone each time you felt anger. Sexual relations are a gift from God, a gift that is to be enjoyed at the appropriate time—when one is married. How does God feel when we try to enjoy sex outside of marriage? Well, imagine that you have purchased a gift for a friend. Before you can give it to that friend, he or she steals it! Wouldn’t you be upset? Imagine, then, how God feels when a person engages in premarital sex, abusing the gift that God has provided. What should you do about your sexual feelings? Put simply, learn to control them. Remind yourself that “Jehovah himself will not hold back anything good from those walking in faultlessness.” (Psalm 84:11) “When I find myself thinking that premarital sex would not be so bad,” says a youth named Gordon, “I reflect on the bad spiritual consequences and realize that no sin is worth the loss of my relationship with Jehovah.” Exercising self-control may not be easy. But as young Adrian reminds us, “it leaves you with a clean conscience and a good relationship with Jehovah, free to focus on the more important things, with no guilt or remorse for past actions.”—Psalm 16:11. There are many good reasons for you to “abstain from fornication” in all its various forms. (1 Thessalonians 4:3) Admittedly, this is not always easy. A future article will address practical ways in which you can “preserve yourself chaste.”—1 Timothy 5:22.

WHY APOLOGY IS THE KEY TO MAKING PEACE WITH OTHERS.

Thursday, November 27, 2008



"APOLOGIES are powerful. They resolve conflicts without violence, repair schisms between nations, allow governments to acknowledge the suffering of their citizens, and restore equilibrium to personal relationships." So wrote Deborah Tannen, a best-selling author and sociolinguist at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

The Bible confirms that a sincere apology is often an effective way to repair a damaged relationship. For example, in Jesus' parable of the prodigal son, when the son returned home and offered a heartfelt apology, the father was more than ready to receive him back into the household. (Luke 15:17-24) Yes, a person should never be too proud to swallow his pride, apologize, and seek forgiveness. Of course, for sincerely humble individuals, apologies are not so difficult to make.
The Power of an Apology

Abigail, a wise woman in ancient Israel, provides an example of the power of an apology, although her apology was for a wrong that her husband had committed. While dwelling in the wilderness, David, who later became king of Israel, together with his men protected the flock that belonged to Abigail's husband, Nabal. Yet, when David's young men asked for bread and water, Nabal sent them away with very insulting remarks. Provoked, David led about 400 men to go up against Nabal and his household. Upon learning of the situation, Abigail set out to meet David. When she saw him, she fell upon her face at his feet. Then she said: "Upon me myself, O my lord, be the error; and, please, let your slave girl speak in your ears, and listen to the words of your slave girl." Abigail then explained the situation and gave David a gift of food and drink. At that, he said: "Go up in peace to your house. See, I have listened to your voice that I may have consideration for your person."—1 Samuel 25:2-35.

Abigail's humble attitude along with her words of apology for her husband's rude behavior spared her household. David even thanked her for restraining him from entering into bloodguilt. Although it was not Abigail who had mistreated David and his men, she accepted the blame for her family and made peace with David.

Another example of someone who knew when to apologize is the apostle Paul. Once, he had to defend himself before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court. Infuriated by Paul's honest words, the high priest Ananias ordered those standing by Paul to strike him on the mouth. At that, Paul said to him: "God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall. Do you at one and the same time sit to judge me in accord with the Law and, transgressing the Law, command me to be struck?" When onlookers accused Paul of reviling the high priest, the apostle immediately admitted his error, saying: "Brothers, I did not know he was high priest. For it is written, 'You must not speak injuriously of a ruler of your people.'"—Acts 23:1-5.

What can we learn from
Paul's example?
Apostle Paul

What Paul had said—that the one appointed as judge should not resort to violence—was valid. Still, he apologized for unknowingly speaking to the high priest in a manner that could be viewed as being disrespectful.* Paul's apology paved the way for the Sanhedrin to listen to what he had to say. Since Paul was aware of the controversy among the members of the court, he told them that he was being tried for his belief in the resurrection. Consequently, much dissension arose, with the Pharisees siding with Paul.—Acts 23:6-10.

What can we learn from these two Biblical examples? In both instances, honest expressions of regret opened the way for further communication. So words of apology can help us to make peace. Yes, admitting our mistakes and apologizing for damage done can open up opportunities for constructive discussions.
'But I Have Not Done Anything Wrong'

When we find out that someone was offended by what we said or did, we may feel that the person is being unreasonable or too sensitive. Yet, Jesus Christ advised his disciples: "If, then, you are bringing your gift to the altar and you there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, and go away; first make your peace with your brother, and then, when you have come back, offer up your gift."—Matthew 5:23, 24.

For example, a brother may feel that you have sinned against him. In such a situation, Jesus says that you are to go and "make your peace with your brother," whether you feel you have done him wrong or not. According to the Greek text, the word Jesus here used 'denotes mutual concession after mutual hostility.' (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words) Indeed, when two humans are at odds, there may be a measure of blame on both sides, since both are imperfect and prone to err. This usually calls for mutual concessions.

The issue is, not so much who is right and who is wrong, but who will take the initiative to make peace. When the apostle Paul noticed that the Christians in Corinth were taking fellow servants of God to secular courts over such personal differences as financial disagreements, he corrected them: "Why do you not rather let yourselves be wronged? Why do you not rather let yourselves be defrauded?" (1 Corinthians 6:7) Although Paul said this to discourage fellow Christians from airing their personal differences in secular courts, the principle is clear: Peace among fellow believers is more important than proving who is right and who is wrong. Keeping this principle in mind makes it easier to apologize for a wrong that someone thinks we have committed against him or her.
Sincerity Needed

Some people, though, overuse the words that are meant to express apology. For instance, in Japan, the word sumimasen, a typical expression used in apologizing, is heard thousands of times. It can even be used to express gratitude, implying an uneasy feeling of not being able to reciprocate the favor shown. Because of its versatility, some may feel that the word is used too often and may wonder if those saying it are really sincere. Forms of apology may seem to be overused in other cultures too.

In any language, it is important to be sincere when extending an apology. The wording and the tone of voice should convey the genuineness of sorrow. Jesus Christ taught his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount: "Just let your word Yes mean Yes, your No, No; for what is in excess of these is from the wicked one." (Matthew 5:37) If you apologize, mean it! To illustrate: A man in line at an airport check-in counter apologized when his luggage nudged the woman waiting next in line. A few minutes later, when the line moved, the suitcase again touched the woman. Once more, the man courteously apologized. When the same thing happened yet another time, the woman's traveling companion told him that if he really meant what he had said, he should make sure that the baggage did not touch the woman again. Yes, a sincere apology should be accompanied by the determination not to repeat the mistake.

If we are sincere, our apology will include an admission of any wrong, a seeking of forgiveness, and an effort to undo damage to the extent possible. In turn, the one who was offended should readily forgive the repentant wrongdoer. (Matthew 18:21, 22; Mark 11:25; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13) Since both parties are imperfect, peacemaking may not always proceed smoothly. Still, words of apology are a strong force toward making peace.
When an Apology Is Inappropriate

Although expressions of regret and sorrow have a soothing effect and contribute to peace, a wise person avoids using such expressions when it is not appropriate to do so. Suppose, for example, that the issue involves integrity to God. When Jesus Christ was on earth, "he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake." (Philippians 2:8) He did not, however, apologize for his beliefs in order to alleviate his suffering. And Jesus did not offer an apology when the high priest demanded: "By the living God I put you under oath to tell us whether you are the Christ the Son of God!" Instead of sheepishly apologizing, Jesus courageously replied: "You yourself said it. Yet I say to you men, From henceforth you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Matthew 26:63, 64) The thought of keeping peace with the high priest at the cost of his integrity to his Father, Jehovah God, never occurred to Jesus.

Christians show respect and honor to people in authority. Still, they have no need to apologize for their obedience to God and for their love for their brothers.—Matthew 28:19, 20; Romans 13:5-7.
No Obstacle to Peace

Today, we make mistakes because we inherited imperfection and sin from our ancestor Adam. (Romans 5:12; 1 John 1:10) Adam's sinful condition was a result of his rebellion against the Creator. Originally, though, Adam and Eve were perfect and sinless, and God has promised to restore humans to this state of perfection. He will wipe away sin and all its effects.—1 Corinthians 15:56, 57.

Just think what that will mean! In his counsel on the use of the tongue, Jesus' half brother James said: "If anyone does not stumble in word, this one is a perfect man, able to bridle also his whole body." (James 3:2) A perfect man can control his tongue so that he does not have to apologize for its misuse. He is 'able to bridle his whole body.' How wonderful it will be when we become perfect! Then, there will no longer be obstacles to peace between individuals. In the meantime, though, offering a sincere and appropriate apology for a wrong committed will go a long way toward making peace.

* It might well have been because of Paul's poor eyesight that he did not recognize the high priest.

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO APOLOGIZE !!!!!



IN July 2000, the California State Legislature in the United States passed a bill designed to relieve people of liability if they express sympathy to an individual who was injured in an accident in which they themselves were involved. Why the legislation? It was noted that when an accident causes injury or damage, people often hesitate to extend an apology lest it be construed in court as an admission of guilt. On the other hand, those who feel that they should be given a prompt apology may get upset, and a minor accident may turn into a major dispute.

Of course, it is not necessary to apologize for an accident that is not your fault. And there may be times when the wise course is to be careful about what you say. An old proverb says: "In the abundance of words there does not fail to be transgression, but the one keeping his lips in check is acting discreetly." (Proverbs 10:19; 27:12) Still, you can be courteous and helpful.

Is it not true, though, that many people have stopped apologizing, even when lawsuits are not involved? At home a wife may lament, 'My husband never apologizes for anything.' At work a foreman may complain, 'My men do not admit their mistakes, and they hardly ever say that they are sorry.' At school a teacher may report, 'Children are not trained to say excuse me.'




"Children are not trained
to say excuse me"
Misbehaving school children

"My men do not
admit their mistakes"
Careless workers


"My husband never
apologizes"
Upset husband and wife



One reason why a person hesitates to apologize may be the fear of rejection. Troubled by the thought of being given the cold shoulder, he may not express how he really feels. Why, the person who was hurt might totally avoid the offender, making reconciliation very difficult.

A lack of concern for other people's feelings may be another reason why some hesitate to apologize. They may reason, 'Apologizing will not undo the blunder I have already made.' Still others hesitate to say that they are sorry because of the possible consequences. They wonder, 'Will I be held responsible and be asked to make compensation?' However, the biggest hurdle to admitting a mistake is pride. A person who is too proud to say "I am sorry" may in essence conclude, 'I don't want to lose face by admitting my blunder. That would weaken my position.'

For whatever reason, many find words of apology hard to utter. But is it really necessary to apologize?

Satisfying Our Hunger for Friendship


Satisfying Our Hunger for Friendship

“LONELINESS is not an illness,” states the book In Search of Intimacy. “Loneliness is a healthy hunger . . . , a natural sign that we are lacking companionship.” Just as hunger moves us to take in nourishing food, feelings of loneliness should move us to seek out good friends.

Yet, as Yaël, a young woman in France, observes, “some people avoid all contact with others.” But isolating ourselves, for whatever reason, solves nothing and inevitably makes us feel lonelier than ever. A Bible proverb says: “One isolating himself will seek his own selfish longing; against all practical wisdom he will break forth.” (Proverbs 18:1) So first we need to recognize our need for friendship and then resolve to do something about it.
Take Practical Steps Toward Friendship

Instead of feeling sorry for yourself or envying those who seem to have more or better friendships, why not adopt a positive attitude, as did Manuela, from Italy? She says: “Particularly as a teen, I felt that I was being left out. To overcome this, I studied people who had good friends. Then I tried to develop the good qualities they had, to make myself a more pleasant person.”

One practical step is to take care of yourself physically and otherwise. A healthful diet, proper rest, and adequate exercise all help you to look and feel your best. Being neat, clean, and well-groomed not only makes you more desirable to be around but also gives you a healthy measure of self-respect. However, do not fall into the trap of becoming overly concerned about outward appearances. “Wearing fashionable clothing doesn’t make any difference in finding real friends,” notes Gaëlle, from France. “What good people are looking for is the inner person.”
A young man 1. exercising, 2. shaving, and 3. reading the Bible

Caring for your body and mind makes you more attractive

After all, our innermost thoughts and feelings affect what we talk about and even how we look. Do you have a confident outlook on life? This will help you to have a happy expression on your face. A genuine smile is the most attractive thing you can wear and, explains body-language expert Roger E. Axtell, “it is absolutely universal” and “is rarely misunderstood.”* Add to that a good sense of humor, and people will be naturally drawn to you.

Remember, such good qualities come from the inside. So actively fill your mind and heart with wholesome, positive thoughts and feelings. Read about interesting and meaningful subjects—current events, different cultures, natural phenomena. Listen to uplifting music. But avoid passively allowing TV, movies, and novels to clog your mind and emotions with fantasy. The relationships usually portrayed on the screen are not real life, not real friendships, but the product of someone’s imagination.

Two women talking

Friends open up to each other

Open Your Heart!

Zuleica, who lives in Italy, recalls: “When I was younger, I was shy, and I found it hard to make friends. But I knew that if we want to have friends, we have to take the initiative, make ourselves known, and get to know others.” Yes, to have real friends, we must open up to others—let them get to know who we really are. Such communication and sharing are far more important to true friendship than having good looks and a charismatic personality. “People with deep and lasting friendships may be introverts, extroverts, young, old, dull, intelligent, homely, good-looking; but the one characteristic they always have in common is openness,” observes counselor Dr. Alan Loy McGinnis. “They have a certain transparency, allowing people to see what is in their hearts.”

This doesn’t mean wearing your heart on your sleeve or revealing your innermost secrets to people you don’t feel comfortable with. But it does mean selectively and progressively revealing your true thoughts and feelings to others. Michela, from Italy, says: “At first, I had the problem of concealing my feelings. I had to make changes, to try to manifest my feelings more, in order for my friends to understand what I was feeling and to feel closer to me.”

Even if you are naturally gregarious, however, it still takes time and shared experiences for mutual trust to develop between friends. In the meantime, try not to be overly anxious about what others may think of you. Elisa, in Italy, recalls: “My problem was that every time I wanted to say something, I was afraid it wasn’t going to come out right. Then I thought, ‘If people really are my friends, they will understand.’ So if something came out wrong, I just laughed at myself, and everyone laughed with me.”

Therefore, relax! Just be yourself. Putting on an act doesn’t help. “No one can be more attractive than by being his or her sincere, best self,” wrote family counselor F. Alexander Magoun. People who are truly happy don’t have to fake it or try to impress others. Only by being genuine can we enjoy genuine friendship. Likewise, we need to let others be themselves. Happy people accept others as they are, not fretting over minor foibles. They don’t feel the need to remake their friends to conform to their own preconceived ideas. Work to be that type of happy, noncritical person.
To Have a Friend, Be a Friend

There is an even more important factor—the most fundamental one. Nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus showed that the key to success in all human relations is unselfish love. He taught: “Just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them.” (Luke 6:31) This teaching has come to be known as the Golden Rule. Yes, the only way to have real friends is to be an unselfish, giving friend yourself. In other words, to have a friend, be a friend. To be successful, friendship must be more about giving than about getting. We must be prepared to put our friend’s needs ahead of our own preferences and convenience.

Manuela, quoted previously, notes: “Just as Jesus said it would, true happiness comes from giving. The person receiving is happy, but the giver is even happier. We can give simply by sincerely asking how our friends are, by trying to understand their problems, and by doing all we can without waiting for them to ask.” So reach out to others, including the friends you already have. Strengthen your relationships. Do not sacrifice friendship for less-noble and less-fulfilling pursuits. Friends deserve time and attention. Ruben, in Italy, comments: “Taking time is fundamental to finding and keeping friends. First of all, it takes time to be a good listener. We can all improve in listening and in showing our interest in what others say by not interrupting.”
Show Respect for Others

Another key element of happy, long-term friendships is mutual respect. This includes showing consideration for others’ feelings. You want your friends to be tactful and discreet when their tastes or opinions differ from yours, don’t you? Shouldn’t you treat them the same?—Romans 12:10.

Another way we show respect is by not smothering our friends. Real friendship is neither jealous nor possessive. At 1 Corinthians 13:4, the Bible states: “Love is not jealous.” So guard against the tendency to want your friends all to yourself. If they confide in others, do not take offense and perhaps even shun them. Learn that we all need to widen out in our friendships. Allow your friends to develop other friendships too.

Consider also your friends’ need for privacy. Individuals, as well as married couples, need time for themselves. While you should not hesitate to reach out to others, be balanced and thoughtful, and do not wear out your welcome with your friends. The Bible cautions: “Make your foot rare at the house of your fellowman, that he may not have his sufficiency of you.”—Proverbs 25:17.
Do Not Demand Perfection

Of course, when people get to know each other, they become more aware of the other’s weaknesses as well as strengths. Still, we should not let this hold us back from making friends. “Some expect a bit too much from potential friends,” comments Pacôme, in France. “They want them to have only good qualities, but that’s not possible.” Not one of us has perfection to offer, and we do not have the right to demand it of others. We hope our friends will accept us despite our imperfections and make allowances for us. Shouldn’t we try to overlook our friends’ shortcomings too, by not imagining or overemphasizing them? Author Dennis Prager reminds us: “Flawless friends (i.e., those who never complain, are always loving, never have moods, are fixated on us, and never disappoint us) are known as pets.” If we don’t want to end up with pets as our closest friends, we need to heed the apostle Peter’s advice to let ‘love cover a multitude of sins.’—1 Peter 4:8.

It has been said that friendship doubles our joys and halves our sorrows. However, to be realistic, we cannot expect our friends to fill all our needs or solve all our problems. That is a selfish view of friendship.
Loyal Friends Through Thick and Thin

Once we have made a friend, we should never take his or her friendship for granted. When separated by time and distance, friends think about each other, pray for each other. Even if they can get together only rarely, they can quickly catch up on each other’s lives. Especially in times of difficulty or need, it is vital to be there for our friends. For the most part, we must not withdraw when friends have problems. That may be when they need us most. “A true companion is loving all the time, and is a brother that is born for when there is distress.” (Proverbs 17:17) And when true friends have misunderstandings, they are quick to make amends and forgive each other. Real friends do not abandon their friends just because the road gets bumpy.

By having unselfish motives and by approaching others with a positive attitude, you can gain friends. But the kind of friends you have is also important. How can you select good friends? The next article will discuss that question.

* See also the article “Smile—It’s Good for You!” in the July 8, 2000, issue of Awake!


A young woman A young man
Can Men and Women Be “Just Friends”?

Can men and women who are not married to each other be friends? That depends on what we mean by the word “friend.” Jesus was a close friend of Mary and Martha of Bethany—both single women. (John 11:1, 5) The apostle Paul was a friend of Priscilla and her husband, Aquila. (Acts 18:2, 3) We can be sure that these individuals shared warm affection. At the same time, we cannot imagine that either Jesus or Paul ever allowed these relationships to drift in the direction of romance.

Modern society thrusts men and women into each other’s worlds more than ever before, and it is becoming increasingly necessary for people of both genders to know how to have appropriate, friendly relationships with each other. Couples too benefit from wholesome friendships with other couples and with single people.

“Distinguishing between romantic, sexual and friendly feelings, however, can be exceedingly difficult,” cautions Psychology Today magazine. “The reality that sexual attraction could suddenly enter the equation of a cross-sex friendship uninvited is always lurking in the background. A simple, platonic hug could instantaneously take on a more amorous meaning.”

For married couples, being realistic and practical is especially important. “All forms of intimacy with others can threaten a marriage,” writes author Dennis Prager in his book Happiness Is a Serious Problem. “It is not sex alone that makes for an intimate relationship, and your spouse has the right to expect to be your one truly intimate friend of the opposite sex.” Jesus pointed out that maintaining moral chastity is a matter of the heart. (Matthew 5:28) Therefore, be friendly, but guard your heart and scrupulously avoid situations that could lead to improper thoughts, feelings, or actions toward anyone of the opposite sex.

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