Talk:Essay:Best Concepts to Teach Teenagers

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4 and 5 are too vague to be helpful. They are not concepts or principles, and I suggest replacing them.--Aschlafly 12:57, 31 August 2008 (EDT)

As a teacher I would disagree. Perhaps they are not worded well, but teaching teens how to make decisions, and how to evalulate information in this world is critical to their becoming successful and moral adults. This site is a perfect example. Why is the information on this site valuable? We state that Wiki is biased, but how do we teach teens to figure that out for themselves? How do we teach teens the tools to say "ah, sex is not for me", rather than just parrot us. When teens parrot, they only know the answers to the question we provided. But when we teach them how to look at evidence with a critical eye, and say "fine so science says X, but how do we know it is true or not" - we do our kids in our schools a disservice. Critical thinking seems to be core here. So teaching that skill is far more important than just teaching what you or I or some other adult has found using "critical thinking". That's my 02 cents, anyhow. Michelle. --MHayes 13:02, 31 August 2008 (EDT)
Six is WONDERFUL. Something I wish I were more aware of as I watch my "babies" turn 9 and 6. gak!--MHayes 13:22, 31 August 2008 (EDT)

4 through 7 are ineffective or worse. 4 and 5 can be interpreted any way anyone likes (making them useless), and 6 and 7 are not going to persuade any teenagers.--Aschlafly 13:25, 31 August 2008 (EDT)

And 1-3 will persuade any teenagers? I know teenagers, it's hard to get them away from the tellie. DLerner 18:37, 31 August 2008 (EDT)
I doubt you've taught 145 teenagers, as I have. Teaching the meaning of opportunity cost is effective.--Aschlafly 18:39, 31 August 2008 (EDT)
I've taught roughly a thousand. I agree that cost-of-opportunity is a useful concept to teach them. I question, however, the addition of "destructive" to the point about values. Surely values can also have constructive effects? Teaching them to avoid destructive values is only half of the equation. --Benp 19:34, 31 August 2008 (EDT)
You've taught about a thousand teenagers??? I bet quite a few of them ended up becoming addicted, imprisoned or depressed, after adopting Hollywood values. Tell them beforehand and the disastrous outcomes are less likely.--Aschlafly 19:44, 31 August 2008 (EDT)
Yes, Andy, I've taught about a thousand teenagers. Is that really so surprising? --Benp 20:13, 31 August 2008 (EDT)
If so, Benp, then please tell us how many ended up becoming addicted, imprisoned or depressed. Hundreds?--Aschlafly 20:24, 31 August 2008 (EDT)
To the best of my knowledge, not one has been imprisoned. I can think of a few who have unfortunately been foolish enough to cultivate addictions (mainly to tobacco.) I doubt that if any of them has cultivated addictions stronger than that, they'd make that knowledge public; likewise, I'm not in a position to say how many of them have suffered from depression in the time since I taught them. I am neither their confessor nor their psychiatrist, and while I do have a degree in psychology, it's only a BA; as such, speculations would be irresponsible of me. I do know that there have been no suicides; one former student died, but that was a tragic accident.
In general, though, I've been blessed with well-adjusted and optimistic students and supportive parents, and I'm fortunate enough to teach in a well-ranked and well-to-do suburban school in a conservative district. I suspect that the story would be much different if I were teaching in an inner-city school. --Benp 21:02, 31 August 2008 (EDT)
Most teens I've met (and I'll concede that I haven't yet taught 145), don't care about opportunity cost, (the same reason you objected to 6-7). That said, I agree that opportunity cost is a great life lesson, but also that some things are more important than money, (spending time with family even though you can be earning $$$). DLerner 18:43, 31 August 2008 (EDT)
They care once it's explained to them. But most people won't explain opportunity cost to young people.--Aschlafly 19:44, 31 August 2008 (EDT)

There are three kinds of teachers: those who can count, and those who can't. --Ed Poor Talk 18:51, 31 August 2008 (EDT)

There are 10 kinds: those who understand binary, and those who don't. ;) --Benp 19:36, 31 August 2008 (EDT)
I stand corrected, sitting right here! ;-) --Ed Poor Talk 19:55, 1 September 2008 (EDT)

What about teaching trust as a positive value, rather than encouraging a negative attitude of expecting deceit? Sideways 19:57, 31 August 2008 (EDT)

Trust of one's superiors can be good, when the superiors merit that trust. Overlooking evil in proven liars is no virtue, though.
We don't expect other people to deceive us, but "he was a liar and a murderer from the beginning" is a good description of Satan. Fred Schwarz wrote a book about "trusting" the Communists. --Ed Poor Talk 19:58, 1 September 2008 (EDT)
Well, the text as it stands is "deceit exists far more than you expect", so that is saying that we should expect deceit, & in fact we should expect it more than we already do. If a generation of young people is brought up with this outlook, it will result in a generation of cynical and distrusting adults, who may be hesitant to take chances, make commitments or form relationships for fear that they will be let down or are being deceived. Sideways 20:14, 1 September 2008 (EDT)

The Liberal Notion that Authority is necessarily Wrong

Well the liberals are correct on this one. Some things are better than others, while still being less than perfect. As there is only one truth this truth would be perfect. A claim to not being wrong is a claim to perfection. I think we can all agree that any earthly authority is necessarily less than perfect. Thus it is necessarily not true, thus it is necessarily wrong. It might be spectacularly good, it might be very valuable but there is still room for improvement. That improvement in an authority can only arise through criticism (which may be self-criticism) of the authority. Many authorities have not just avoided being good but have been positively bad. It is essential that children are taught to question and not blindly obey "authority", lest they obey bad instructions of authority later in life. If we do not teach children to question we run the risk of happy, drug free, intelligent people pushing other people into gas chambers because they were always taught at school to do what they were told without question. --Toffeeman 08:09, 1 September 2008 (EDT)

Toffers, you are the incorrigible Liberal. How you can claim that authority is neccesarily wrong, I do not know. We Conservatives hold that freedom of thought is essential: seek truth from facts, not leftist dogma, and challenge authority when it is seen to be in error. But authority as neccesarily, as intrinsically a Bad Thing? No! Bugler 09:04, 1 September 2008 (EDT)
I don't see much freedom of thought in this list - just teaching a kid a series of absolutes and prohibitions. The entries on teaching them to think for themself, evaluate situations and come to their own decisions were deleted. Sideways 09:09, 1 September 2008 (EDT)
They are not prohibitions, they are freedoms. Freedom from disease, from pre-marital pregnancy, from ruined education and ambition, from addiction, crime and untimely death. Discipline, and self-discipline, is the doorway to freedom and should be embraced. Bugler 09:12, 1 September 2008 (EDT)
Perhaps, but if freedom of thought is to be embraced, then surely this is one of the most important things to teach, allowing the young person to think for themself. The list as it stands has quite an authoritarian, commanding look to it. Sideways 09:21, 1 September 2008 (EDT)
The problem is that far too many people think of freedom as a privilege or an entitlement--not a stern responsibility and duty. It most manifestly is. --Benp 10:46, 1 September 2008 (EDT)
Better that than 'Hey! Dude! Like, anything goes!' Bugler 09:26, 1 September 2008 (EDT)
Not necessarily a bad thing - I did specifically say that it might be "spectacularly good" - but it must necessarily have something wrong with it. "Good" and "bad" is a matter of gradient, "right" and "wrong" are binary, the two only meet at "perfection". The problem with authority is that its a good place to hide from responsibility. "Why did you do that?", "Because x told me to" nicely shifts the blame onto x. (I've just seen what you wrote above on self-discipline. From authority may come discipline, but it prevents self-discipline)--Toffeeman 09:27, 1 September 2008 (EDT)
You need to learn discipline before you can discipline yourself. Bugler 09:31, 1 September 2008 (EDT)
What's the difference between freedom of thought and 'Hey! Dude! Like, anything goes!'? Sideways 09:51, 1 September 2008 (EDT)
It is the distinction between liberty and licence. Bugler 09:58, 1 September 2008 (EDT)
Well, I find it interesting that somebody who holds freedom of thought to be essential is so keen to narrow the range of belief here at Conservapedia. Sideways 10:10, 1 September 2008 (EDT)
If you read my statements carefully, instead of just looking at the header and jumping to erroneous conclusions, you would see that I have no wish to narrow any field of debate, nor to advocate hatred of atheists (in fact, quite the reverse), but merely to enable Conservapedia to operate free from the overt and covert sabotage being carried out by those people. Were they able to debate properly, there would be no problem. Bugler 10:19, 1 September 2008 (EDT)

(unindent) I agree with Bugler on this point; the idea of "questioning authority" has been perverted into the universal rejection of authority. Questioning authority is both valuable and necessary; had the Founding Fathers not questioned the authority of the King, we would not enjoy the freedoms we know today. The Founders were also well aware that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people required that the people take responsibility for holding government to task.

Mindlessly rejecting all forms of authority, though, is no better than mindlessly obeying authority. One leads to anarchy and self-worship; the other, to totalitarianism and repression. --Benp 10:44, 1 September 2008 (EDT)

:"Mindlessly rejecting all forms of authority, though, is no better than mindlessly obeying authority." Agreed. But we have to be very careful not to conflate "question" with "reject". If you were teaching my son, told him something he disagreed with and he asked you "why's that?" I would expect you to have an answer. If that answer where "because I said so, I am the authority, you will not question that authority", well, you haven't given him much of an answer, you haven't taught him anything and you haven't done anything to equip him for life. I'm sure that you do allow kids to question you, and I sure that it gives you a great opportunity to impart your wisdom. When it is wisdom it has an answer to the question and doesn't need to rely on "authority".--Toffeeman 13:22, 1 September 2008 (EDT)

No-one wants to stop children asking questions, and good answers help an enquiring mind to grow. But sometimes lines have to be drawn. Bugler 13:26, 1 September 2008 (EDT)
I'd suggest that two lines are between 1)speech/thought and action and 2)questioning/holding-to-account and dismissing out of hand. Both give reasonably clear divides between what you/society/the school should allow and where you/society/the school are perfectly entitled to dictate. --Toffeeman 16:59, 1 September 2008 (EDT)

(unindent) I generally agree with freedom of thought, but particularly when it comes to adults resisting government propaganda aimed at squelching their religion. Also, in education, I prefer to let my students come to their own conclusions - instead of mandating that they believe a certain way. I tell them the truth, and if I can't convince them of it, maybe I'm not a very good teacher.

But "one is not free to thirst while drinking". So it's not true freedom to cling to a lie; and I'm not helping you to be free if I stand by idly while you fool yourself. I can't make a horse drink, but I owe him nothing less than to lead him to water. --Ed Poor Talk 20:02, 1 September 2008 (EDT)


Ed, can you explain how #12 is not at odds with #8? In #12 you tell kids that they are responsible for their choices (correct), even if their choice was to listen to others in authority like their government (still correct). Yet in #8 you're telling them that constant questioning of authority is counter-productive and destructive. If you are responsible for the consequences of every decision you make, no matter whose advice you were following, how is it wrong not to always be questioning and evaluating that advice to make sure you can live with the consequences? --DinsdaleP 22:03, 4 September 2008 (EDT)

Voting Buttons

Would voting buttons be a good idea? My vote would go for "develop good habits", I like that one. After the "fun to decide" one - I wrote that, so obviously it's brilliant :) --Toffeeman 08:39, 1 September 2008 (EDT)

In Middle Earth, much of our behavior is governed by hobbits. It is therefore critical to consciously cultivate good hobbits, and to work to overcome bad hobbits. Sideways 09:24, 1 September 2008 (EDT)
That's actually painful. (But "good habits" and self-discipline is the reason Sam is the real hero of LOTR) --Toffeeman 09:29, 1 September 2008 (EDT)
And elf-discipline is what makes Legolas so great. X-( Sideways 18:28, 1 September 2008 (EDT)
Hobbits are the strongest of all. Try reading the preface of LOTR. --Ed Poor Talk 20:04, 1 September 2008 (EDT)

Master of one's body

The idea that each person is the master of their body is used by abortionists. They regard the "proper term" for an unborn child to be the fetus - whereas conservatives regard the proper term to be nine months.

Liberals argue that the unborn child is "not human" until it takes its first breath, or can survive on its own or some such nonsense like that. This is as stupid as Mary Shelley's old horror story, Frankenstein. It takes a human mother (and father) to make a human baby, and the unborn child is human from the moment of its conception.

Moreover, no one is master of their own body to the extent that they may decide what to "do with it" without regard to their obligations to their parents, to God, to society, and so forth.

Don't go down this rabbit hole. Not in a "concepts for teenagers" list. --Ed Poor Talk 20:21, 4 September 2008 (EDT)

You have misinterpreted me entirely (possibly the fault of my original wording). I am not referring to abortion at all. I am referring to the conquest of bodily impulses, and have rewritted accordingly. Bugler 16:08, 6 September 2008 (EDT)

Number 6?

This one's a bit too much of a generalization, and contradicts #12. To pick an extreme example, what would most of the folks say here about the advice a young person gets if both parents are liberals or atheists? --DinsdaleP 12:18, 6 September 2008 (EDT)

Oh #6 sounds like a joke. That's basically saying "Parents are never wrong!". If someone actually takes this seriously and tells that to their kids, they'll have some real backlash when the kid grows a mind of their own. (Unless the purpose of this list is to prevent that, in which case... good luck) ATang 22:57, 6 September 2008 (EDT)
No joke, and you've misinterpreted what point 6 says.--Aschlafly 23:54, 6 September 2008 (EDT)
I made my comment not to mock, but to ask for just such a clarification or modification. Can you or Ed explain what's meant by #6 then? It seems like it's stating that when both parents work together to give advice, that advice is never going to be based on bad ideas. I agree with heeding the advice of wise parents, but I've also seen more than a few many dysfunctional couples with kids, and I shudder to think of the advice their kids get from them. Unfortunately, you don't need any training or qualifications to be a parent, so being one doesn't suddenly impart wisdom to the clueless.
To be constructive, I'd suggest that #6 be more along the lines of "Respect the advice given by your parents, and give it more weight no matter how opposed to it you may be at first. No one other than a future spouse will ever care for you as much, or have your best interest at heart as they do." --DinsdaleP 10:29, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
You seem to miss the point in #6, which is about the suggestion of "bad ideas." Your dilute, milquetoast replacement is not as effective. Godspeed.--Aschlafly 13:25, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
Wow, sidestep my example and throw in a personal insult as a bonus. What a mature response to a constructive suggestion made in good faith. --DinsdaleP 13:36, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
There is nothing offensive in my comment; it contains no personal insult. Feigning offense is a common type of liberal style (see point #1).--Aschlafly 14:17, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
I'm not personally offended, they're just words after all. However, if you don't think that it was insulting to say that my suggestion reflects the view of "an unassertive and spineless person who can be easily intimidated or dominated", then you have an interesting perspective of what "insulting" means. I'm simply disappointed in the dismissive nature of your initial response, and in your choice to follow up by tossing in a liberal style accusation. I'm still waiting on a response of substance to the point I addressed, which I managed to do respectfully. --DinsdaleP 14:51, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
Oh, and not the best example of Chivalry (courtesy and humility in everyday life) to be setting for your students. --DinsdaleP 15:00, 7 September 2008 (EDT)

Does #6 say that if both parents agree, that the agreed-upon idea is never a bad one? Even ignoring practices outside the U.S. (female 'circumcision'), and really far-out practices of U.S. citizens (Jim Jones cult, mass suicide), there's still enough odd practices in the U.S. (FLDS, polygamy, assigned marriage of very young people) that I think the word "never" is probably too strong, though maybe I'm misunderstanding something. --Interiot 14:27, 7 September 2008 (EDT)

The point is about "bad ideas." Community or religious practices would be understood as a "bad idea" by parents. There needs to be a better counterexample than what you suggest before diluting the point.--Aschlafly 14:41, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
That sidesteps the point Interiot made, which is that in the types of cases he's cited the parents are typically part of the religion/community that embraces the questionable practice in the first place. --DinsdaleP 14:51, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
Let's try this:
  1. It never rains in the desert.
  2. It never rains on the Moon.
1) is fine as an offhand expression, but only 2) survives strict scrutiny. The kindest thing to say about point 6 is that it uses "never" in as loose a fashion as my first example. --JohnZ 15:13, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
I think #6 just needs to be reworded. I understand the concept, and agree with it, but I think it needs some sort of qualifying statement, e.g. "In a traditional family unit..." I would edit this in myself, but I'm not sure about the policy of editing others' essays.
--Jeffrey W. LauttamusDiscussion 10:14, 9 September 2008 (EDT)

Sheep or Shepherd

Surely the latter part of point 9 is contradictory to point 17 --J00ni 09:52, 7 September 2008 (EDT)

I guess it depends on what one is obeying!--Aschlafly 09:59, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
J00ni, if you weren't so blinded by Liberal ignorance and indoctrination you'd be able to see that the two are perfectly compatible. If you conceive of obedience and honourable behaviour as beeing sheeplike, heaven help you. Only through obedience, discipline and self-discipline can one acquire the living skills that qualify you as a 'shepherd'. To allow teenagers the licence - under the false flag of 'independence') - to do as they please, without guidance or discipline, and you will truly condemn them to be sheep, and sheep that are prey to the ravening wolves of depravity, self-indulgence, atheism, addiction, disease and early death. Bugler
Bugler, you worded that far more eloquently than I could! From my side I see no contradiction in being obedient and retaining your individuality at the same time. --KotomiTHajimemashite! 10:08, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
Bugler, there's no need to be personally insulting. The points are at least contradictory to a degree - if not conceptually, then certainly in the way they are put across. I feel it is important to be both a sheep and a shepherd, depending on the situation in which you find yourself. As Aschlafly wisely implies, there is nothing wrong with being a sheep, if the shepherd you are following has been wisely chosen.
All I was objecting to was the latter sentence of point 9 - as it seems to confuse matters unnecessarily, as the point is a good one without it - ie resisting peer pressure, because as you rightly say this can often lead to young people (and a great many adults for that matter) being lead astray. However young people aren't universally bad - and giving in to peer pressure where it is to stop doing drugs, to resist premarital sex, and to attend church and worship Jesus - which is admirable peer pressure I have witnessed and taken part in in the past, is the kind of peer pressure where being a sheep is a good thing. Also your point about teenagers doing as they please without guidance seems to agree with my point, that being a shepherd without the skills necessary for that role, can lead to disaster. --J00ni 10:31, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
The key comes back to point #13. In the end, we are obedient to others by choice, so this is about choosing to be obedient to the right leaders, the right role models and the right authority figures. --DinsdaleP 10:32, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
Precisely, I agree with the sentiment of the 3 points, all I was asking for was clarification of the text, so as to avoid possible confusion/conflict. Bugler, wrongly, seems to think I don't understand the conceptual points raised (either that or I was just another vicitm of his/her scatter gun approach to reprimanding other editors) --J00ni 10:37, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
You are both, though, seeing this with the hindsight of adult experience. Young people may not be able to take so mature and nuanced a view; dicipline should be accepted, even if its reasons and benefits are not fully understood. And J00ni, if you think that I was impolite to you, your final remark has surely settled the account equitably. Bugler 10:39, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
Fair cop guv! I still think the sheep or shepherd sentence leaves the door wide open for teenagers following these concepts to question point 17 on principle. And so it needs either clarification or removal im my opinion --J00ni 10:49, 7 September 2008 (EDT)

Reversion explained

Don't equate teachers to parents. See professor values if you don't realize why. Godspeed.--Aschlafly 12:47, 7 September 2008 (EDT)

I don't think he was equating teachers to parents, and I think you should reconsider the reversion, adding "clergy" along with "teacher". Many kids are reluctant or afraid to approach their parent about difficult subjects. If a teacher has earned their trust and is approachable, then kids should be encouraged to seek their counsel after encouraging them to talk to their parents first. As a teacher yourself, wouldn't you want your students to seek your advice instead of their peers if they were reluctant to bring something up with their parents? Who should kids talk turn to when there's abuse at home?
As for using the "Professor Values" argument as a reason not to, do you really consider the majority of teachers, especially at the pre-college level, to be as morally bankrupt as you make professors out to be? Slamming the values of all educators because of the actions of a miniscule sample of college-level professors is shameful. Some of the greatest role models in my young life were my teachers, and they were represented across the parochial and public schools I had attended. --DinsdaleP 13:33, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
Dinsdale, Professor values are a very real part of the modern, Liberal-dominated state education systems in much of the western world, and to deny their influence is wilful ignorance. And describing the actions of the founder of Conservapedia as 'shameful' is in itself shameful, insulting and wrong. Bugler 15:03, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
Even Aschlafly seems to have refrained from carrying the professor values theme to the grade-school level, focusing his examples on college-level instructors. If he wants to assert that this applies to educators at all levels including grade school, then that is his prerogative. I consider teaching to be one of the most important contributions to society, and one of the most under-appreciated vocations. To advise young students nationwide not to reach out to any of the the thousands of moral, dedicated teachers who've earned their respect and trust because of a handful of professor values articles does them all a disservice. One might as well tell them to avoid seeking the counsel of clergy because of the behavior of pedophile priests, Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, and so on. --DinsdaleP 20:48, 8 September 2008 (EDT)

A bit puzzled...

I'm a bit puzzled as to why "Freedom isn't free" was deleted. Is the idea of honoring our servicemen and women, living and dead, something that shouldn't be taught to teenagers? --Benp 14:26, 7 September 2008 (EDT)

Don't know who deleted it, or what the full statement was. I certainly agree with honoring our servicemen (a term that includes women also).--Aschlafly 14:39, 7 September 2008 (EDT)

Perhaps it was deleted inadvertently. Would anyone object if I restored it? The original point was "Freedom is not free. It carries a tremendous cost. In the case of the United States, that cost has been paid by patriots willing to lay down their lives. These patriots (living and dead) are deserving of our respect." (In reposting it, I think it would be best to strengthen respect to "respect and honor.") --Benp 14:46, 7 September 2008 (EDT)

Clarification needed

On matters of obedience versus responsibility, there is room for confusion here. On one hand, there are instructions to obey the teachings of churches and parents and to respect experience. "Obedience is the path to independence and maturity" and "a bad idea will never come from both your parents". But on the other hand, if you make an incorrect decision on the advice of someone else, it is "still your fault". For one thing, you cannot seriously intend to say that no two parents, and no church, has ever given bad instructions to teenagers. Just think of all the liberal parents (or pastors) out there, inculcating values in their offspring that conservatives would seriously disapprove of. The two instructions taken together amount to "respect and obey the values your church and your parents teach you. The latter, in particular, will never give you bad advice. However, if you obey a bad instruction, the fault is still yours." This is a no-win situation for the teenager, is it not? Eoinc 17:45, 7 September 2008 (EDT)

Reversion explained

Don't teach teenagers to be trusting. Some criminals, liberals and others exploit such trust to mislead teenagers and send them on a path of destruction. Think teenagers should trust a drug dealer, for example? Of course not, and that is not the only example.

Also, don't draw a silly distinction between sheep and goats. That was properly reverted also.--Aschlafly 11:10, 9 September 2008 (EDT)

Naturally I do not think that teenagers should trust a drug dealer. That is why my edit said "Nurture trust in those who have earned it", which is not the same as trusting blindly and indiscriminately. Trust is an important virtue and I do believe that teenagers should be encouraged to develop trust in those who are deserving of it. Without trust, there can be no true respect, friendship or love. Encouraging youngsters to expect deceit at every turn will result in a generation of cynical, paranoid adults with avoidant personalities.
Regarding the distinction between sheep and goats, it was one drawn by Jesus Christ. See Matthew 25: 31–46. I would expect all Christians, and in fact most educated people, to be familiar with this analogy. You may find it "silly" but please respect that others do not. Sideways 12:35, 9 September 2008 (EDT)

Be good...

I have reverted this edit because, with respect to HelpJazz senior I believe the advice contained is unsuitable for teenagers. "Be good, but if you can't be good, be safe" in essence condones misbehaviour; it is saying, "Make sure you don't get caught out". Instead of urging the recipient to behave properly and decently, it in effect says "I know I have to tell you to be good for form's sake, but you and I know that you are going to do drink/drugs/sex, so be careful and don't get busted/pregnant/her pregnant". It is recommending the fallacious belief in actions without consequences. Proper Conservative advice to a teen going to college would be Be good, resist temptation, admit your mistakes and learn from them. Bugler 03:43, 10 September 2008 (EDT)

That's certainly an interpretation, but it's unfair and overly simplistic to say it's the only one. He's not saying "make sure you don't get caught," nor does the advice undercut the "be good" message. Your own suggestion acknowledges the possibility of mistakes that you must learn from. Why not give advice that not only acknowledges that you might fail to be good (despite forthright intentions) but gives secondary advice ("be safe")? Otherwise, you've given NO useful advice to the person who's already mired in an unfortunate position. Aziraphale 15:34, 10 September 200good and decent 8 (EDT)
Aziraphale, you make good points which reflect your world outlook. Maybe I am more cynical, but I interpret 'be careful' not in the sense of 'be careful - don't fall under buses, don't cut yourself on sharp knives, don't play with gasoline' but more as 'be careful, be as bad as you like but use ways to escape the consequences of your sin'. It is a smeesge that, to me says: 'don't be chaste; but remember to use contraception' - a message that has appalling moral implications, and, given the failure of contraceptives to control the spread of deadly STDs, serious physical ones as well. Bugler 15:41, 10 September 2008 (EDT)
It sounds like good advice to me. Nobody goes through life without sinning at all. Adolescence & early adulthood is when people are often most tempted, & sometimes they do give in to temptation, despite good intentions. If they do, there will be consequences, but they can still avoid the kind of situations which could ruin the rest of their lives. Sideways 15:47, 10 September 2008 (EDT)
Absolutely not. Accepting sin in such a way is condoning sin. The father should advocate chastity, and resilience in the face of temptation. There are methods to help. Bugler 15:49, 10 September 2008 (EDT)
This advice does not apply only to sex, Bugler. For example, would you expect a son or daughter to go through life without ever once getting drunk? We might hope for this, but I think it would be unrealistic. However, with good advice, they can avoid addiction or more dangerous drugs. This is where the advice to be safe comes in. Sideways 15:58, 10 September 2008 (EDT)

I would introduce my offspring to the pleasures of alcoholic refreshment in a controlled manner at home, in a safe environment: starting with watered wine and shandy, and on to the occasional beer or glass of good wine with a good meal. I would expect them to abjure illegal drugs and pre-marital intercourse absolutely. Any decent parent would. Bugler 16:04, 10 September 2008 (EDT)

Bugler, I think you missed the part about "be good". It doesn't say "be good, but really don't be good be really really bad". Sideways and Aziraliphale have it exactly right.
As conservatives we teach our children how best to behave, and trust that they will do the right thing. We do not command our children with an iron fist -- as this is only going to garuntee failure. Be good and safe implies that a values system is already in place (and, seeing as how this advice was given to me on my first day away at college, one had better hope the values system is already in place!!) and it is a reminder to do what you should. If you only say "be good", then if the teen slips, they might just say "oh well" and go all the way ("in for a penny, in for a pound"). If you add "be safe", then if they slip they will know "well, I've had one drink, so I know I'm in trouble when I get home. But if I stop now, at least I won't harm myself or do anything stupid".
If you are worried about this advice being interpreted as "have as much sex as you want, as long as you are protected" or "do as many drugs as you want, as long as you don't OD", then you have not properly set down a values system. I would never consider those two actions unilaterally good, or safe. As such, I lead a healthy, good, and safe 4 years at a notorious party school. HelpJazz 16:19, 10 September 2008 (EDT)
If you are worried about this advice being interpreted as "have as much sex as you want, as long as you are protected" or "do as many drugs as you want, as long as you don't OD", then you have not properly set down a values system. No - I believe that that is a corerect interpretation of the saying 'If you can't be good, be safe' or 'If you can't be good, be careful'. That is certainly the interpretation that would be put on it in the UK - perhaps this is a cultural thing. It is a saying, in essence, very similar to the jocular declaration 'Don't do anything I wouldn't', which for many is an encouragement to licence and debauchery. Mrs Bugler and I have not yet been blessed with issue, but I can assure you that should the time come, we would lay down excellent value systems and moral precepts. Bugler 16:25, 10 September 2008 (EDT)
It may well be cultural differences. HelpJazz 20:03, 10 September 2008 (EDT)
I'm from the UK too & I don't necessarily agree. It has more to do with how the advice "if you can't be good, be safe" is given. If it's given with a grin & a wink, then yes, it may be read as tacit approval of misbehaviour. But that doesn't mean the same advice can't be given more seriously & appropriately. Sideways 09:37, 11 September 2008 (EDT)

(unindent)If I may suggest a compromise...? The essay explicit assumes you aren't going to give all of the suggested advice; after all, it posits a top-5 and then gives (as of 9/11, 9:00AM at GMT -8) 26 suggestions. Since there is clearly room for a non-sinister interpretation, why not leave the suggestion there? If I'm picking the five pieces of advice I'm going to give, there are already at least 21 pieces of advice the reader will be concluding are inferior, let them decide on this one, too. Aziraphale 12:03, 11 September 2008 (EDT)