By Shawn Dean


Sweet Sixteen



What a disaster I was at sixteen. I couldn’t get enough of AC/DC, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Bud heavy, Marlboro Reds, long hair, and girls. My weekends were full of parties and hangovers. School was a nuisance and my only real problem was not having enough money to cater to my vices the way I wanted to. Wasted.


Fast-forward thirty-six years. Wow. That was thirty-six years ago? Reality just hit me as I typed it.


My oldest daughter, Isabelle, turned 16 in October. She’s into Instagram, Brookhill Camp, leading worship at youth church, piano, guitar, Belhaven high scholars. Her new favorite artist is Josh Garrels. (By the way, Born Again and The Arrow are worth your time if you’re looking for some fresh, awesome Christian music.) She and her friend Olivia made a plan to read the entire Bible in a year. She wants to be doctor. She sews, cooks, paints, loves her sisters, and she’s funny. She’s attractive. She’s never kissed a boy—never even held hands.


How does that happen? Jesus. No way around it. It’s Jesus. There’s no way that girl looks like that with me as a father if Jesus hadn’t intervened. No chance. There’s no chance I marry her awesome Mama without Jesus. None.


What’s every father concerned about the most for his 16-year-old daughter? Sex. She sees what’s going on and I listen to her conversations. I’m impressed with what I hear coming out of her mouth—particularly when the culture around her is throwing their virginity away like rotten chicken. The numbers grow exponentially at 16. The last statistic I read shows that the average boy loses his virginity at 16.9 years, and for a girl it’s 17.4. This is when it happens, parents. Just ask around.


It’s the topic that the world teaches before we get to. It’s the subject that the enemy successfully perverts in young males early and often. It very well could be the most influential destiny changer that exists for teenagers.


Because we foster, temporarily, children born from unwed mothers, my girls have seen the devastating effects of getting knocked up in high school. Where’s baby daddy? It’s devastating—not life ending, but very hard to overcome.


We need to talk about it. We need to talk about the natural drive for it and how difficult it’s going to be to abstain. It’s challenging for a reason. It requires one to fight to keep it. Everything in this world wants to steal it, so it has to be guarded. Why? Because of its worth. If it didn’t have worth, the enemy wouldn’t want to take it.


But, when the moment arrives and the bride gives herself to the groom and the groom gives himself to the bride for the very first time—that’s Gods design. What a beautiful gift to get to give to someone you love and plan to spend the rest of your life with—the gift that was fought hard over for years and protected with difficulty from a crafty enemy. That’s a gift.


If your daughter has lost that already, encourage her into the woman God sees her to be. Help restore her integrity with compassion and understanding. Build her up continually in the likeness of Christ and shower her generously with love while looking past the bad decisions and into a better today.


Shawn Dean is Regional Sales Manager for Airflo Sales, Inc., located in Ridgeland, MS. He and his wife, Laura Beth, have three children, Isabelle, Ann Mabry, and Mary Frances. They live in Madison.