The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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October 5, 2001 Issue
Local News

Parents can help teens decide

Chastity expert will give practical advice at talk for The Gathering

By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor

Parenting teens

What: "Parenting the Pre-teen and Teenager" presented by Ellen Ellen, chastity and teen character development expert.

When: 7 p.m., Oct. 11

Where: Walter Theatre, St. Norbert College, De Pere

Why: To provide parents with practical ways to empower their children to make healthy, moral decisions.

Admission: Free with a two-day registration to The Gathering; $3 per person or $5 per couple for this event only.

Details: For more information about The Gathering, call (877)500-3580, ext. 3 or (920)437-7531, ext. 3.

Drug and alcohol use, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and violence are all results of bad choices by teens that parents can help them avoid.

The founder and president of a nonprofit organization that promotes chastity and character development for teenagers will offer parents practical tips on helping their children make moral decisions next week at The Gathering of the Church of Green Bay.

Ellen Marie, founder and president of Youth Support Inc., will kick off The Gathering with her presentation, "Parenting the Pre-teen and Teenager," at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, in the Walter Theatre at St. Norbert College, De Pere.

Admission to the lecture is free with a registration to The Gathering or $3 per person or $5 per couple for just the talk.

"Culture often contradicts Catholic values," said Ellen. "The goal is to influence teens to assume the values of their parents. It's important to internalize those values so moral decisions become personal decisions by the teen."

Peer pressure is a common problem facing teens. Through parental support and communication, teens will think for themselves, said Ellen, who has co-authored three books for teenagers and produced videos for teens and parents.

"Peer pressure is very normal and is along the lines of other problems facing young people," she said. "Through open communication, teens gain confidence and understanding to go against peer pressure and make their own decisions. If they are making the decision on their own, they feel good about it."

The presentation is not for families already in a crisis situation, she cautions.

"It is not a counseling session," said Ellen. "It is for parents who feel they have a good relationship with their children, who are looking for new ideas. I try to provide new tools to make their relationship even stronger."

"The most important thing to realize is that you can't force someone to do something," she continued.

"Teenagers are going to leave home soon. By positively influencing your children now, they will carry those values with them in making decisions when they are on their own," she said

Ellen, who has a master's degree specializing in Adolescent Development and Parent Education, has appeared on radio and television talk shows including "Montel Williams" and "The Ricki Lake Show."

She is a chastity expert, but her presentation covers all values related to teen choices. At her presentation, she will provide handouts for parents to use in communicating with their children.

"I have seen a return to chastity among teens," said Ellen. "The U.S. government is now funding abstinence programs. Before the early 1990s, the government only funded contraceptive programs. Parents still need to be the significant influence, though. The goal is to connect teens with the values to make healthy, moral decisions. I have been working with teens for a decade. Parents make the difference."

Ellen's presentation marks a return to the Green Bay Diocese. Last year, she spoke to the student body at Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay.

"I'm impressed with the number of speakers (at The Gathering)," she said. "It looks like a great event. I'm happy to be a part of it."

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