It’s coming up to that time of year again! Join us to support Real Talk in bringing a life-giving message on love, relationships and sex to young people across Australia and beyond.
*** Announcing our special guest speaker Matt Fradd. ***
Matt Fradd speaks to tens of thousands of people every year. He is the best-selling author of several books, including Does God Exist?: A Socratic Dialog on the Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas and The Porn Myth: Exposing the Reality Behind the Fantasy of Pornography. Matt earned his master’s and undergraduate degree's in philosophy from Holy Apostles College, and is pursuing a master’s degree in theology from The Augustine Institute. Matt’s podcast Pints With Aquinas receives over half a million downloads every month. Matt lives with his wife, Cameron, and their children in Georgia.
6:30pm • Thursday 23 May 2019
Hotel Grand Chancellor: 23 Leichhardt St, Brisbane
RSVP by 3 May
Ticket price $150
If you can't make it to our dinner, you may like to support us by purchasing tickets to our raffle prize drawn on the night (starting at $5)
We hope to see you there!
The senior years for many teenagers can be daunting and stressful as heck! After helping three of my own children and counselling countless teenagers and parents through these years, here are my quick 16 tips for parents for the year/s ahead!
Let them know you are here for them. Say something like you know they are incredibly independent and competent, but that you are here if they need you. And just keep saying it, even if you think they’ve heard it a million times.
Verbal affirmation. If this is not your strong point (particularly dads) try to push past it. Tell your son/daughter that you love them and think they are amazing, they are doing a good job, tell them you are proud of them regularly.
Leave random notes for them around the place – on their bed, in their school bag, wherever; affirming them and letting them know you have their back
Master the art of lingering. When going in to say goodnight, don’t rush out. Kiss/hug them goodnight, ask ‘how’s everything going’? or ‘everything going ok’? and then even when they say ‘yup’… just linger around the room for a bit, looking like you might be just straightening books, or tidying up or something to see if they might talk to you or add anything. Just 30 seconds….you’ll be surprised at what they end up randomly sharing every so often.
Second check. Make the effort to go in and check on them again before you head to bed. Sometimes it’s after ‘official lights out’ that teenagers often secretly get onto technology and may stay on it for hours!
Create ‘spontaneous’ catch-ups. If you think they are not being themselves and might need to talk, create an excuse to take them out just you and them. For girls, invite her to join you for a coffee or milkshake after shopping. For boys, a long drive in the car (over 45 min) sitting in the front with no phone or technology does the trick… but give it half an hour, without pressured questions. Even if they don’t talk, the point is they have to sit there face to face, or side by side, and they can’t just get up and walk away. If they don’t talk, you talk. Tell them about your life; times when you are stressed, how you handled school or year 12, what’s happening in your life etc.
Physical health. Make sure they are looking after their body. They are growing at a rapid rate! Also, perfectionist teenagers tend to push themselves in mind, body, and spirit! Check if they are sleeping properly, eating well, not skipping breakfast/lunch etc. They secretly want you to care about them, even if they say the opposite.
Create permission for imperfection. Create moments where they can see you make mistakes and be OK. Sometimes I would deliberately leave the dishes or something out of place and make a comment out loud like, ‘oh well, its OK not to be perfect’, or ‘to cut ourselves slack sometimes’ etc. Kids are pushed so much these days by school and social pressure, they need to know its OK not to be perfect ALL the time. Home needs to be a place of ‘wind down’, not ‘wind up’ – a safe harbour, a refuge.
Set a calming atmosphere. If you are into oils, diffusing lavender or frankincense or calming blends can create an amazing atmosphere of calmness. I’ve seen some parents use this and it works wonders in the living room or bedroom. When my teenagers can’t get to sleep they still come in and ask me for lavender and/or frankincense, which I dab on their temples and back of the neck. Works like magic.
Move from telling to asking. If your emerging adult seems stressed with homework or life, instead of preaching, ‘well that’s because x & y and you need to do z’, try moving to asking a question: ‘is there anything I can do?’When my teenagers were stressed about exams or assignments in year 11 or 12, I would offer a cup of tea, or a chocolate, offer to wash up when it’s their night, or offer to put on some music while doing their work ,or did they want me to sit with them and do work on my computer beside them, or say a prayer for them etc.
Encourage self-awareness.I’m not sure if your teenager is the type of teenager who fills up more by being by themselves or having others around… (I had one of each and a third for whom that too much of either was exhausting!). But something as simple as figuring out whether your child is introverted or extraverted is a great start for both you and them to know. It will help them in years to come to recognise when they are getting too full or too empty. I went further with mine and did a few interactive tests which they responded well to – such as the 5 Love Languages, Myers Briggs, and the Multiple Intelligence test. I found this last one particularly insightful with setting up individual homework environments that work for them and can be done with any school-aged child.
Take the pressure down. Sometimes our schools really put undue pressure on senior students, particularly around ‘what subjects they need to doin order to get into the uni course they want’. And sometimes it’s us parents who are loading on the pressure and expectations. Parents, we need to learn to back off. I’m aware this may be challenging, especially if you have desires for your child’s career, but it needs saying. I encouraged my kids that uni life and timetables were not as stressful as year 11 or 12 – and they will always be able to change their career direction if they feel that a certain path is not right for them. Even though their teachers may be telling them otherwise.
Trust your gut. If you think they are not themselves and you are concerned, take action. Tell them you want to talk (and if they resist, take them out for that coffee/water/milkshake/drive and tell them they might not want to talk, but you do!) Say that you are concerned and that what you are specifically noticing is not normally them, and see if they respond. Sometimes just sitting and letting them slowly respond is OK. Be comfortable with the silence, but also say everything you need to say, even if they say nothing. They will definitely think about it and may say something about it at a later time.
Stay in the ring with technology. By now you may be tired and ready to give up this perennial struggle. Let me encourage you – don’t tap out! Wouldn’t that be easier though? Aren’t they now becoming young adults who we should give more freedom to? Of course –but they are still growing young people who are developing under your roof. Your job is not over, so don’t check out early! You still need to keep an eye on who they are talking to, what sites they follow, what movies or TV shows they are watching etc. At the very least it is a big insight into the things that are influencing them. Intense or sad or emotional TV shows and movies can drain serotonin(our ‘happy hormone’) so keep an eye on that. They need to have downtime and recreation that increases serotonin, things that they enjoy. One thing I used to say to my kids is ‘who’s in your room right now?’ meaning whoever they are talking to, texting, snap-chatting etc, they are basically hanging out with in their room.
A word on porn. This is a particularly big issue for teenage boys, but is affecting more and more teenage girls as well, so don’t be naïve. Porn consumption is proven to have huge effects on teenagers mood and behaviour, let alone warping their view of healthy sexuality. Be on the lookout for behaviour like becoming quiet or withdrawn, being left at home alone for long periods, or developing social anxiety. Don’t let your teenage boy be alone in the house for days on end! Even one whole day alone is too long. Make sure you have filters on your modems and insist their phones or devices not be left in their room at night time. Have a docking station where they put it to charge each night in a public place or in parent’s room. This will save countless issues and takes the temptation (literally) away from reach, helping them and you to sleep better at night. At the end of the day however, nothing replaces parental engagement. My husband initiated conversations with our son about this area from the time he started high school. I encourage all dads to talk to your sons about pornography with your sons, and mums with your daughters, but get educated about it yourself first. It ‘aint what it used to be!
Get on the phone. If you are concerned about your child and their behaviour, don’t hesitate to seek help! There are countless counsellors and people who work with teenagers out there who can help and advise you on what the best action to take is. That being said, sift through what you hear and do your own research. I shake my head at some of the advice I have heard teenagers and parents receive, so use your internal antennae and talk to a counsellor you trust, one who has experience and bears good fruit with other teenagers.
You may do all these already! But my main encouragement is to stay engaged. They will thank you one day, but these years may not be that day! There were many times we were able to intercept as a parent just because we stayed alert and aware of what our teenagers were doing or feeling. Our kids absolutely do need us in these years, whether they show us or not. It’s our turn to be the adult, know they may not reciprocate right now, but they will later.
Good luck – I’ll be praying for you!
Real Talks Offerings for Primary Schools
Real Talk has been very excited to officially expand into the primary school space this year, after 7 years of developing and refining primary aged content and resources. With the appointment of Nikki Lysaght as Primary Schools Manager and Presenter, Real Talk is meeting the needs of primary educators, looking for curriculum-based, holistic and values-based puberty and personal development presentations.
Nikki has 18 years experience teaching in Education and 10 years as an Assistant Principal Religious Education. She is passionate and creative, and as a wife and mother of 3 children aged 9 – 13 Nikki is experiencing first hand the joys and challenges that come with parenting tweens to teens.
Nikki says she is excited to now be working with the Real Talk team to develop primary school content and roll it out in schools all around Australia.
"It’s a very exciting time as we have just finished producing a puberty video resource, which will form part of our Year 5 and 6 content. This puberty content forms part of a bigger reflection day where we explore the physical development areas of puberty within the wider context of self-image, positive relationships, as well as the role that society and the media play in forming our understanding of these topics."
You can contact Nikki about primary school visits at email@example.com.
For more information about Real Talks Primary Schools Seminars, click here.
Check out what Girl Talk is all about from Kym and Chantale.
GIRL TALK is an identity program specifically designed for preteen girls. There is so much more than the physical changes in this age group! This time is about the heart growing up. GIRL TALK takes the girls on a journey to womanhood. It covers issues like making good choices, friendship and peers, beauty and more.
GIRL TALK is an 8 module resource and includes a workbook, DVD and enhanced CD with all the ideas, input and presentations you will need to run GIRL TALK in your home, your school or your church/parish.
The Porn Myth: Exposing the Reality Behind the Fantasy of Pornography
Matt Fradd (Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2017.)
The Porn Myth: Exposing the Reality Behind the Fantasy of Pornography, is Matt Fradd’s latest book. It is a well argued, well structured discussion of the porn phenomenon and its effects on people. Matt is an Australian, now based in the United States of America, and is the founder of theporneffect.com. He is currently the Director of Content Development for Integrity Restored and is a best-selling author and speaker.
In this book, Matt goes about debunking many commonly held beliefs about pornography. The book is definitely not a religious treatise. He attempts to avoid religious jargon, and uses rational, fact based arguments to debunk many myths and misconceptions.
As the author states, “the goal of this book is to expose the myth that pornography is good or at least not that bad”. It could be said that Fradd is very Aquinas like in his method as he works towards achieving the book’s goal. (The author obviously looks up to Thomas Aquinas, judging by the name of his podcast, “Pints with Aquinas”). He does this by methodically stepping the reader through the many arguments or beliefs around pornography that are widely accepted in society. Chapter headings include: “Porn empowers women”, “only religious people oppose porn”, “I don’t pay for porn, so I’m not contributing to the industry”, “Porn isn’t addictive” and the classic claim “porn is only fantasy: it doesn’t affect our real lives”.
The book is an intelligent and compelling read and creates solid arguments on what is a major issue in society. When it comes to human sexuality some would say it is THE issue of our time. As Fradd cites:
“among millennials (18-30 year olds), 63 percent of men and 21 percent of women say they view pornography at least several times a week – and that says nothing of those who view pornography somewhat less frequently”
The author rigorously argues that sexuality is better and more fulfilling when one is not exposed to a cornucopia of sexual imagery on the internet.
“by placing sex, any kind of sex, into the medium of pornography, we gorge the masses on industrialised, commodified sexuality. This does not celebrate sex at all. It cheapens it.”
Whilst much of the book is built on the above proposition, it is great that Fradd positions sex clearly as something pleasurable and good. In fact, the reader no doubt will benefit from a deeper and richer appreciation of the gift of sex.
Whilst non-religious in tone, the book has a clear moral and theological underpinning. For the amoral, it may not be digestible content, but for someone striving “to be a good person” it certainly will make them think twice before using pornography again. Further than this, the book is so thorough it forms a great reference point for someone working in the growing number of areas affected by this topic. Be it education, counselling, psychology, pastoral or church ministry the book provides both a good reference point, for most common arguments, and also an in depth analysis of each topic.
The topics covered are: porn culture, the porn industry, porn and our sexuality, porn and our relationships and the struggle with porn. The book is heavily referenced, which will appeal to those seeking academic justification for the arguments, and the book includes a significant appendix which further digs down into the science and the plethora of brain studies that backs up the book’s premise.
With the viewing age of pornography getting younger and younger, and the rates of exposure before adulthood nearing 100%, all caring parents should have good knowledge on this topic. Children should be prepared from a young age to deal with porn exposure. In speaking of sex education Fradd says,
“Children and teens need to see that their parents are reliable sources of knowledge about sex, which means that conversations about these matters should be considered normal in the home”.
The author’s experience in working with people (and their spouses) impacted by pornography is obvious. The book also also attempts to help those affected, with helpful advice and encouragement. The reader is reminded that our desire for sexual fulfilment is rooted in something very good and that there is a way out of pornography’s sticky web. Fradd seeks to inspire people to pursue the real love on offer in authentic sexual relationships, rather than the cheap counterfeit that pornography offers.
Fradd’s arguments are insightful, accurate and supported by experts in the fields of neurology, psychology and sociology. Discussions pull back the curtain on an often hidden problem that has even more hidden effects. Drawing from insiders in the sex trade, the realities of the industry and pornography’s sordid history is exposed. Reaching into the personal lives of actors and actresses the fantasies of porn production are exposed; so too is the trail of broken lives that have been left behind. Matt Fradd definitely attempts to leave the reader motivated to fight the pro-porn cultural norm that is widespread in society.
This is definitely a book for the bookshelf if you are someone who seeks to challenge the wave of destruction that pornography is bringing to children, relationships and society. The book however, is probably best in the hands of someone asking the question, “Does porn really hurt anyone”?
The book absolutely does what the title suggests and exposes not just the “porn myth”, but it systematically removes the scaffolding that pro-porn arguments are built on. This book clearly contributes to the conversation on the harmful effects of pornography and I would suggest it is the most comprehensive discussion I have seen. If you are looking for a book that thoroughly scrutinizes the pro-porn arguments and encourages individuals, parents and communities to work to reject the influence of porn, then look no further.
Gossip is like feathers in the wind! Watch on to hear about the impact of gossip and rumours.
Paul Ninnes at The Renaissance of Marriage Conference 2016 in Sydney on The Digital Space and the Impacts of Being a Digital Citizen. (Thanks to ROM Conference - http://www.rom.org.au)
If you follow us on social media, you may already have heard our exciting news....
We are proud and excited to announce that this year's Annual Dinner guest speaker is world-renowned author, speaker and expert in JPII's Theology of the Body, Christopher West.
If you haven't already heard of Christopher West and his work, you might want to check out The Cor Project.
Tickets are selling fast so get a table of 8 together and secure your seats now! It is Christopher West's first and only speaking engagement in Brisbane - so make sure not to miss out.
We look forward to seeing you there!
When: Monday 24 October 2016
Pre-dinner drinks starting 6:30pm
Where: Hotel Grand Chancellor – Brisbane
Cost: $125 per person
RSVP: 10 October 2016
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0425 277 785
An online petition to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull started by Real Talk Managing Director Paul Ninnes has gotten lots of coverage over the last two weeks.
Hours after delivering a talk at a special event hosted by The Dating War on pornography and its harmful effects on relationships, Paul read reports of child rape in a Sydney school and felt urged to start an online petition to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for internet service providers to filter pornography and have an "opt-in" option to safeguard our children.
“There is no reason why our politicians can’t legislate and put pressure on Internet providers to automatically block pornographic sites, with individuals being required to opt in to receive sexually explicit material, rather than opt out,” Mr Ninnes said.
“As leading expert Dr Michael Flood, (a professor from the University of Wollongong) said in his 2009 report there is ‘consistent and reliable evidence that exposure to pornography is related to male sexual aggression against women’.”
Mr Ninnes said he believed “enough is enough” after two 12-year-old boys in Sydney were last week charged with raping a six-year-old girl in a northern beaches school.
“My daughter is about that age, and I’ve just had a son, and to be honest I am fearful as a parent of the world that my kids are being brought up in Australia where they can access Internet pornography unfettered, where young people are learning misogynistic, violent sexual acts from the pornography that they are exposed to unwillingly,” he said.
“It’s got to do with the freedom of children to grow up in a world where they are not exposed to things that are damaging to their ideas of how to treat another person.”
Other incidents have spurred Mr Ninnes to take action, including a recent report that 70 Australian high schools were involved in an Internet porn ring.
Mr Ninnes said legislative action in United Kingdom was sparked by public reaction to the case of a 12-year-old boy, who, emulating pornography, raped a nine-year-old.
UK News outlets and politicians joined forces to make Internet porn something people had to opt in for.
“Then Prime Minister David Cameron made it clear that his aim was to ensure that all ISPs (Internet service providers) would have a filtering system in place. As a result, within a year, all four major Internet providers introduced default filtering,” Mr Ninnes said.
Read the full article here.
Real Talk's ministry aim is to help young people understand the message of love and life in a way that relates to them by sharing the solid facts and the presenter's own life experiences. Carmel Donnelly, the youth worker of the Hervey Bay Parish Youth Group, understands this and so invited us to come share with them about this vital message.
TALKING love and sex with teenagers can be an awkward conversation for some parents, but one Hervey Bay mum has found a way to make the tough chat palatable.
Carmel Donnelly, a mother of five and youth worker at Hervey Bay City parish, decided other Catholics, not her qualified self, needed to shed light on the Church’s teachings on marriage and sexuality.
Mrs Donnelly invited two guests from Brisbane-based ministry, Real Talk Australia, to speak to her young people about love and relationships.
“One of the things young people are wondering is, ‘How do we know we’re in love’,” she said.
“A lot are not sure.”
Read the rest of the Catholic Leader article here.
If your Youth Group would like to have Real Talk come and speak drop us a line at email@example.com.
New Zealand is on the Real Talk bandwagon. During the month of May, Paul Ninnes went to New Zealand to not only present to a number of schools and follow up on training our three new NZ presenters but also to incorporate Real Talk NZ.
The Catholic Leader has featured an article on Real Talk's adventures there...
Talk Australia will present the Christian view on sexuality in New Zealand schools permanently following full support from the Auckland, Christchurch and Hamilton bishops.
Managing director Paul Ninnes said the ministry was now a “long-term fixture” following several years presenting talks to New Zealand Catholic schools “periodically”.
“We have invested in New Zealand and trained three presenters to be a long-term fixture in schools,” Mr Ninnes said.
Briegé Koning, of Hamilton diocese, and Thomas Saywell and Gerard Trolove, of Christchurch, will represent Real Talk Australia’s New Zealand branch.
Mr Ninnes said the New Zealand venture would be a “culture change experience opportunity”.
Real Talk Australia has visited Catholic schools in the Hamilton diocese for the past three years.
Ms Koning, who is co-ordinator for the Hamilton diocese’s youth office, said Real Talk’s presentations on sexuality, personal development and relationships were needed in New Zealand schools.
She said her own understanding on sex came from secular perspectives or from friends, despite being taught in a Catholic school.
“When I was in high school, these topics were not based in the truth of the Catholic Church’s teaching,” Ms Koning said.
You can read more here.
Starting high school is exciting and scary! Even more so this year in QLD, where many 11-turning-12 year olds entered the high school yard for the first time. As pictures of all the kids heading off to school filled facebook and instagram last term, I thought about how exciting a new year of school can be. And, as I sent my son off to first year of high school this year, I was reminded of my eldest girls first semester of high school and the transitioning that happens.
Here are 5 tips for you as parents and carers to set your new high schooler off to a good start:
1. Be available to talk and debrief
Even though they have probably been waiting for this moment for a long time, starting high school can be scary! Going from being ‘the oldest’ to suddenly ‘the youngest’ can be a challenge. Adjusting to high school teachers when you are used to being cared for by one teacher can be difficult too. Try to set time in your own schedule to ask how its going. Some kids like to talk straight after school, some at dinner, and some just before bed. Being available as a parent to talk or debrief or just showing you are there for them can be a huge support for them. This is the year you don’t want to lose communication! With so much going on internally growing up in their body and brain, there is a lot going on externally too, and this is the time to learn creative ways as a parent to engage with them. Sometime cooking a yummy afternoon or dinner is enough to entice any teenager to hang around a little longer to chat. ☺
These guys and girls need encouragement. Writing a little note in their lunch box, tidying their room with a note on their pillow or other small gestures can show them you are there for them. Saying to them ‘I’m so proud of you!’ and ‘This is a big time of so many changes, which are both exciting and scary all at the same time, and you are doing so well in adapting to them all’ can go along way. One time in the first semester, my first-year-of-high-school daughter was feeling so overwhelmed, I cleaned her room for her and put a note of encouragement on her bed. It spoke volumes for her, and encouraged her in this time of adjustment.
One of the biggest changes from primary to high school is independence. You are expected at high school to know where to go, what books you need, what uniform you need to wear, how to catch public transport etc etc. Its hard to go from a primary school where the teacher takes responsibility for you, to a high school where YOU take responsibility for you! It can feel scary and lonely. BUT… this is a great time of empowerment! Resist the urge to do everything for them.
Help them to remember, NOT take over
Its ok in the first few weeks to remind them or help them out, but you really need to empower them to start thinking for themselves. If they are forgetting things, encourage them to do up their own personal checklist the night before. Things like ‘have I put my laptop and phone on charge?’ or ‘have I got my uniforms ready?’ ‘do I need to be at school early for anything tomorrow?’ There’s lots to remember and its important at this time to help them remember, NOT take over. On the other hand, it’s also important to let them know, as they learn independence, that they are not alone and you have their back.
Some kids look around at school and expect to be ‘best friends’ by the end of the first week! Whilst some people click instantly, some kids know its takes time to develop lasting friendships. Just because people ‘act like BFFs’ after meeting a week ago, doesn’t mean it will last. It’s hard to explain this to your young teenager, as they look around and think ‘Am I the only one who doesn’t have a new best friend?”. If your teenager is feeling alone or wondering these things, reassure them. One of the things I’ve always said to my kids is, ’If you wanna make a friend, be a friend.’ It’s one of the sure ways of making friends.
‘If you wanna make a friend, be a friend.’
5. Don’t take it out on them!
The change is not only big for them, its big for you too! Your new highschooler can go from being that fun, over-communicative pre-teen to a moody, hard to love teenager. Remember, just because they don’t act like they need you, doesn’t mean they don’t! They need you more than EVER. Communication between you and them is even more key to a successful high school transition. Research shows that teenagers around 14 and up express parent-child conflict as one of their greatest concerns, so now is the time to invest in this relationship – moody or not – to keep communication channels open. Having a once a week coffee/catch up is just the ingredient for this. Even if not much is said during this time, creating a culture of ‘opportunity to share’ will be worth it in the coming years.
Research shows that teenagers around 14 and up express parent-child conflict as one of their greatest concerns
I remember that first shock as a parent of a high school kid. I remember looking back, just 12 months later and thinking ‘wow! So much has changed between the end of primary school and the first year of high school.’ It was like I was holding on to my hat and going on for the ride. Being an engaged, attentive parent will help your child know he/she is not alone and has the back up they need. Empowerment, not taking over. Encouragement, not criticism.
Keep going parents, you can DO this! And the good news is that YOU are not alone in this journey either. We are all in it together.
Real Talk is very excited that Managing Director, Paul Ninnes, was awarded the Professional of the Year award at the 2014 Community Leader Awards. Here's how the award category is described:
PROFESSIONAL LEADER OF THE YEAR
This award is presented to an outstanding corporate or business professional who is an active member of the Catholic community.
The award recognises an individual who has made a significant impact on the lives of colleagues, clients or customers.They exhibit exemplary leadership skills and set a benchmark of charity, integrity and professionalism in their workplace. The nominee does not need to be employed by a Catholic organisation, but they must be able to demonstrate how their Catholic values are integrated into their professional life. Special consideration will be made to a person who demonstrates active participation in their parish or Catholic community.
You can read about the awards here