So You Want To Be A Teenager?: What Every Preteen Must Know About Friends, Love, Sex, Dating, and Other Life Issues

So You Want To Be A Teenager?: What Every Preteen Must Know About Friends, Love, Sex, Dating, and Other Life Issues

by Dennis Rainey, Barbara Rainey

Approaching the teenage years is frightening for parents and kids. The changing landscape of our society brings new safety issues, health concerns, and emotional factors that threaten the well being of all teens. As parents, Dennis and Barbara Rainey have lived and relived those challenging years. And as a teacher of a sixth-grade Sunday school class for over


Approaching the teenage years is frightening for parents and kids. The changing landscape of our society brings new safety issues, health concerns, and emotional factors that threaten the well being of all teens. As parents, Dennis and Barbara Rainey have lived and relived those challenging years. And as a teacher of a sixth-grade Sunday school class for over eleven years, Dennis helped hundreds of preteens prepare for adolescence — including his own six children.

Samuel and Rebecca Rainey, who were preteens themselves not that many years ago, add their perspective as young adults who vividly recall their own sucesses and failures as teenagers. Covering such topics as friends, peer pressure, boundaries, dating and sex, the Raineys address the most common traps of adolescence and teach young people how to avoid making poor choices. Short, concise chapters are filled with anecdotal illustrations and practical applications. The Teen Years is essential reading for every preteen and an ideal resource for parents and youth workers. (A "Parent's Guide" is included.)

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-A guide to relationships, sex, love, and life from a fundamentalist Christian point of view. The Raineys and their children take turns writing various chapters, though the theme is the same: have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; be modest; pick only Christian friends; practice self-control; do not masturbate; and, for girls, never have an abortion. Cartoon illustrations open chapters and spot-art drawings are found throughout. Libraries should be aware that a few chapters include fill-in-the-blanks including one with "promise statements" for readers to sign ("I will stand up for what is right even if my friends and others disagree or make fun of me," "I will guard my heart and mind by not watching unclean movies or pornography or listening to music with words of violence or sex," etc.). There are also questions for parents to consider and discuss with their children. A limited, fundamentalist message for a limited audience.-Linda Beck, Indian Valley Public Library, Telford, PA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.66(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.47(d)
Age Range:
11 - 13 Years

Read an Excerpt

So You Want to Be A Teenager?

What Every Preteen Must Know About Friends, Love, Sex, Dating & Other Life Issues

By Dennis Rainey, Barbara Rainey, Steve Bjorkman

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2002 Dennis Rainey, Barbara Rainey, Samuel Rainey, Rebecca Rainey
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7852-6615-0


The Box Top

by Samuel Rainey

Does your life sometimes seem as confusing as a gigantic jigsaw puzzle? And I don't mean a puzzle that's just twenty pieces cut out of thick wood—the kind you could do with your eyes closed. No, I mean life can feel like a puzzle that has thousands of pieces. I sure felt that way when I was about to become a teenager.

My family has worked on a few of those big puzzles because my mom loves them. I suppose that's where my dad got a pretty crazy idea for his Sunday school class. What Dad did illustrates a very important truth I want to share with you.

One Sunday my dad brought his sixth-grade class a thousand-piece puzzle of a Rocky Mountain landscape with leaves in fall colors, a vivid blue sky, majestic mountains, sparkling water, and a deer or two. Dad divided the class into three groups and said, "You must put this puzzle together without talking to anyone." He gave each group all the pieces for what they thought was the identical puzzle.

The first group was given the pieces and the puzzle box top. Those kids set the box top up for reference, sorted some pieces, and began putting the thing together. They thought this was fun.

My dad dumped the same puzzle out for the second group, but unknown to them, he gave them the box top from a different puzzle. So as they tried to sort the pieces, they were looking at the wrong puzzle picture! Of course, they could not talk to each other or even ask my dad if something was wrong.

The third group had it the worst. My dad spilled out the pieces and left them without a box top. Several kids broke the no-talk rule and complained, "Mr. Rainey! This isn't fair!" But he simply reminded them that there was to be no talking.

Now you may think my dad is kind of weird or even mean, but he was doing this to teach the class something very important about life.

The first group worked enthusiastically and fit many puzzle pieces together in the allotted time. The second group was frustrated, confused, and a bit angry. Slowly, each person in that group figured out that the box top did not match the puzzle. One boy threw the box top outside of the group because it was distracting and frustrating everyone. A girl pointed an accusing finger at the box lid and the pieces, but Dad just smiled and said, "S-h-h-h-h. No talking."

The third group was a disaster—no signs of teamwork or progress. They had no excitement for this project. Each person just sat there playing with a pile of pieces. This group gave up working on the puzzle because they had no hope.

After ten minutes my dad brought the experiment to a halt. Here's the point he made that I want to share with you: The box top is essential in working a jigsaw puzzle—it provides a clear picture of what the finished puzzle is supposed to look like. Without it, putting the puzzle together is nearly impossible, and all you have is a bunch of little colored pieces that have no connection.

When you start to experience all the changes of adolescence, figuring out your life may seem like putting together a big puzzle without a box top. My question is, Just what will you use for the "box top"? What picture will you look at as you fit your life together? You certainly will need one to make it through this part of your life.

Hang with me. In this chapter I'm going to tell you about a box top that will help you understand what your life—a great life—should look like. During your teen years you can have so much fun, avoid boredom, have super relationships, and experience joy instead of shame and guilt. But first you must know the box top Maker.

Meet the Box Top Maker

It's probably not too hard for you to believe in God. I mean, when you consider the beauty of nature and the incredible complexity of our bodies, it would take quite a stretch to think all of this just happened by chance.

But even if believing in God is not that hard, it can be more difficult to believe that God takes a personal interest in our lives. You may say, "Why would God care about me? I'm not famous. I'm just a kid. Does such an awesome Creator of the universe have time for me?"

Well, yes! He is God after all! That means He has a tremendous ability to keep track of everything, including all that you and I do and even think. Because God is all-knowing, He has a plan for you that will perfectly fit who you are, and He wants to use you to accomplish His plans on earth—both His grand plans and His specific plans for you.

The Bible says that God has even numbered each hair on our heads! Can you imagine keeping track of your own hair that way—to say nothing of numbering the hairs of billions of other people? The total number of hairs on each head must be huge, and I bet the exact number changes every day. And counting hairs is not God's only task. Let's face it—He is awesome!

God knows everything all the time, and that means He knows everything about you. Oooh, that could be good or bad! Actually, it's very good if we are in a relationship with Him.

And that's another very cool deal. He wants to know us, and He wants us to have a close friendship with Him! Let's think of it this way. You know your mom and dad because you are around them, right? You know when your mom and dad get upset at things you do, and you know when they are proud of you. God is the same way. In fact, He even refers to Himself many times as our Father in Heaven. But if He knows us so well and wants us to know Him, how is that going to happen?

This brings me back to the box top analogy. If God created you but your life seems like a puzzle, then who do you suppose has the box top? Yup, God certainly does.

Understanding God's Box Top

Let's look at a few verses in God's Word, the Bible, that explain God's box top and how it relates to you. When God made the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, and put them in a beautiful garden, everything was perfect. These two had a great relationship with each other and with God; He actually walked in the Garden with them and they all talked.

But then an ugly thing happened. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating fruit from the one tree He had told them to absolutely avoid. This disobedience was given a name, a tiny word that is still a huge problem: Sin. The word sin means to "miss the mark" or to "mess up." This messing up by Adam and Eve meant they could no longer have easy access to God. That was their punishment. Since God is pure and holy, He hates sin. So Adam and Eve were separated from God and had to leave the Garden. This event is called the "fall of man" (see Gen. 1).

So God and Adam and Eve did not enjoy any more of those nice, friendly walks in the garden. And because each one of us is a distant relative of Adam and Eve and we mess up, or sin, like they did, we also are separated from God. In Romans 3:23 the Bible says that we have all sinned and fallen short of God's glory. The most horrible result of sin, if it is not taken care of, is that any of us could die and end up in permanent separation from God in a place called hell. Trust me, you do not want to end up in hell.

The book of Romans also says, "The wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23)! That's what I'm talking about. Wages are what you get when you do something. It's like an allowance for doing chores or a check for doing a job. The payment for sinning is death.

But hold on, here comes the good part! If you read the rest of the verse in Romans, you find that there is something that God has offered to us to get rid of those wages of sin: "The free gift of God is eternal life."

How did God clean up the mess made by Adam and Eve in the Garden? He sent a gift! This gift was none other than His Son, Jesus. Jesus was able to take care of our sin problem in our relationship with God. You may or may not know a lot about Jesus, but the most important thing to know is this: Jesus came to the earth to save people like you and me from the death we have earned (the wages) by not being perfect—by sinning.

Here's what the Bible says about why He sent His Son: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

Isn't that awesome? Would you be willing to die for people you had never met so that they could live? They would never thank you in person, and they might not even admit you had given your life for them. God is telling us that He loved us so, so, so, so much that He gave His one and only Son to die for you and me! Why? So that we can have our relationship with God and never have to go to that awful place called hell. This is salvation.

Wow, God offers to give us a gift of eternal life despite the fact that we are sinful and have earned the wages, or payment, of death. Eternal life is life that lasts forever. You and I can live a billion years and we'll just be getting started! Now this eternal life begins while we are alive here on earth, but it continues forever in a beautiful place called heaven. That's where God has His permanent home and where everything is perfect—the opposite of hell, where everything is imperfect.

Meeting Jesus in Person

So how does someone receive this gift of salvation from God? Maybe you already are a follower of Jesus (a Christian) yourself, but please don't skip this section. God wants you to tell others how they can get their free gift, too.

In order to receive the gift, you must know Jesus and understand what He has done for you. Suppose you died in a car wreck and suddenly found yourself standing before God. What if He said, "Why should I allow you into My kingdom?" What would be your answer?

It's quite simple. Jesus died for our sins because He loves us so much. He wants us to have the gift of salvation. All we have to do is believe in Him and what He did for us, and ask Him to forgive us and be King in our lives. We must turn over control of our lives to Jesus so that He becomes our leader.

If you would like to ask Christ to forgive you of your sins, why don't you ask your parents, an older brother or sister, or a friend who knows Jesus to pray with you? If you don't have anyone to do this with you, here's a prayer you can pray to God on your own:

Dear God, I am a sinner. I know that I am not perfect and I know that You are perfect. Thank You for sending Your Son to die for my sins. Thank You for loving me. By faith I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and rose from the grave to conquer death. Will You please forgive me of my sins and will You be the King of my life? Thank You for Your sacrifice, Your forgiveness, and for the eternal life I now have because of You. I will place my trust and faith in You and allow You to be the Lord and Master of my life. In Jesus' name, Amen.

If you just prayed that prayer, welcome into the kingdom of God! I hope you understand what you asked God to do, and I urge you to please tell someone about your decision concerning Christ. From now on you belong to Him. You are a child of God. Obey and follow Jesus Christ every day. Your life will never be the same.

The New Box Top

I'm glad that you understand what Christ did for you. Through His truth in the Bible, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the wisdom of others who follow Christ, God will help you see the purpose of your life and will guide you every step of the way. He also will never leave you. Now that doesn't mean you won't have hard times, but "God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Cor. 10:13).

Now do you understand the importance of God being the box top in your life? I hope that you will live by His instructions and leading. God knows what is going to happen in the future and we don't. He can lead you to make wise decisions instead of wrong decisions that will haunt you in the future.

Your life does not have to be a puzzle. Let God reveal His special box top designed just for you!


Trap and Choices

by Samuel Rainey

The boys crossed the creek and charged up the hill, stopping at the fence that surrounded the abandoned house. Josh, who was a little slower than the others, arrived last. Still catching his breath, Josh said, "Comeon, guys, why are we up here? Allen's mom told us to stay away from this place. I don't think we should be here."

The three other boys laughed. "It's broad daylight; what're you scared of?" Jimmy asked. "We've been waiting for a chance to explore the inside of this house. Now's the time!"

"Yeah," Allen said to Josh, "my mom doesn't know what she's talking about! Josh, you're always the one holding us back. There isn't anything wrong with going in this old house. Besides, who knows what we might find or what we might be able to break for fun. No one will know; it'll be our little secret. Come on. Lighten up!"

Now Josh felt stupid, but he also wondered what he would do if the other boys actually entered the house. Allen's mom had warned that it was a rotten old house and could be really dangerous. Josh was still thinking about his choices when the other boys jumped the fence and ran toward the house. Josh hesitated, then he jumped the fence, too, and quickly caught up with the others just as they pushed open the door.

Can you understand how Josh felt? Have you ever been in a spot like that? I certainly have. Josh faced a hard choice. He knew that Allen's mother had warned against climbing the fence and going into the house. But his friends said it was no big deal. Josh didn't want to miss out on some excitement—or worse—feel weird. That's why he gave in.

Do you think he did the right thing? What would you have done if you were Josh? Would you have jumped the fence, knowing that you weren't supposed to but eager not to be left out? Or would you have stayed behind and let the others make fun of you?

In the next few years of your life you will face many situations and choices like the one Josh faced. You will need to make good decisions. Do you think you are ready?

Time to Change

Adolescence is an awesome time in life, but it can be a bit strange. When you're still a child, most of the time everything is the same. You get up in the morning. You have a bowl of cereal. You go to school. You play with your friends. You do your homework. You watch some TV. You go to bed. Some days are more exciting than others, such as when you get to spend the night at a friend's house and stay up all night telling scary stories and funny ones that make you laugh so hard you just about pass out. But mainly each day is the same routine.

Then comes adolescence—hello! Life's not so boring anymore. Everything starts to change, and these changes make adolescence so challenging. Your body is changing, sprouting hair in odd spots. The way you think is changing—such as suddenly being attracted to the opposite sex. As a boy I remember my voice was changing. One minute I sounded like I always had, and the next I was croaking like a frog. How embarrassing! I remember answering the phone, and the person on the other line thought I was a girl. I so wanted a deep voice.

And it's not just you. All your friends are changing, too, and sometimes they act really strange. One day your best friend may start acting like he or she doesn't even want to talk to you anymore. And that hurts. It feels like everything around you is different.

Maybe being a younger child wasn't so bad after all! But the thought of becoming a teenager and having more freedom definitely sounds better than going back to being little. Growing up is "puzzling" (sorry, I couldn't pass that one up) and that's exciting, too.

And then there are the parents. I have a little secret to share with you: When I was about thirteen, I really thought my dad and mom had started taking pills that made them kind of, ah, dumb. I thought, They really are getting old—they are losing it. Of course I didn't tell them that, but I was suspicious. In fact for the next five to seven years I thought they were seriously out of touch with life. But when I got to college I realized that my parents weren't so dumb after all!

Well, now I have a confession to share ... and man is this one important! I realized it was I who was changing, not my parents! Adolescence does that to you. All the changes in your body and the stress you feel from those changes can mess with your mind. If you aren't careful you can lose perspective on why God gave you parents—you may start to think you know better than they do. Your parents aren't perfect and they will make mistakes, but they aren't your enemies.


Excerpted from So You Want to Be A Teenager? by Dennis Rainey, Barbara Rainey, Steve Bjorkman. Copyright © 2002 Dennis Rainey, Barbara Rainey, Samuel Rainey, Rebecca Rainey. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Dennis Rainey is the executive director and co-founder of FamilyLife and co-hosts the radio program, FamilyLife Today. He is senior editor of the HomeBuilders Couples Series, which has sold more than 1 million copies worldwide, and author ofParenting Today's Adolescent and The Tribute.

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