“A New Look at the New Era,” Ensign, Oct. 2005, 63–65
At the same time our teens are making life-shaping decisions, they are being bombarded by cultural influences that range from unwholesome to downright wicked. We try to give them wise counsel. But our youth are also going through the natural process of declaring independence, cutting apron strings, and looking more to peers and other adults for examples and advice.
As parents, teachers, and leaders of youth, we need all the help we can get. And there is a powerful ally available: the New Era magazine. To help provide a fresh perspective on this sometimes overlooked resource, we invited readers on lds.org to share stories about the New Era. Some of their responses follow.
Camille Fox of Tucson, Arizona, says that when she was in middle school, she wanted to subscribe to one of the teen magazines the other girls were reading, although she knew much of the content was unwholesome. She also knew her parents would be against the idea. But, she says, “I rationalized that if I read the New Era from cover to cover, it would be no big deal for me to skim one of those other teen magazines on the side.
“But as I read the New Era, the Spirit filled my soul, and I knew where true joy and happiness come from. It helped me to feel Heavenly Father’s love, gave me a greater desire to study the scriptures, and helped my testimony of Jesus Christ grow. I never asked for a subscription to one of those other magazines.”
Nathan Craig, who now studies law at Southern Illinois University, recounts: “My two brothers and I were the only members of the Church our ages in a Kentucky town of 60,000. We looked forward to the New Era to see other Latter-day Saints and read their stories of staying faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Their stories inspired me to serve a full-time mission when many others did not understand why I would ‘waste’ two years of my young life. Those stories gave me the courage and the faith to keep the standards of the Church to qualify myself as a servant of the Lord.
“My brothers and I were the first from our small branch to serve missions in more than 15 years.”
Even while trying to establish their individuality, teens don’t want to feel like the odd person out. They look to their peers for validation. Like Nathan, many Latter-day Saint teens turn to the New Era to see other young people who have the same values, face the same challenges, and manage to remain true.
Even where the Church is more concentrated, many teens feel like loners, experiencing unique self-doubts and trials. The New Era holds up to youth both a window that shows others coping successfully and a mirror that helps them see their own worth.
Our teens hear us a lot more than we think they do. But it really helps for them to hear another voice. “Jimmy has just turned 16, and dating is very much on his mind,” writes Joni Grossman of Santa Monica, California. “As a single parent, I have not always had all the answers to his endless questions about dating. In fact, he recently said, ‘Mom, don’t get offended, but it has been a while since you went out on a date.’ I had to laugh, because he is right! That very night, I found him rereading the New Era special issue on dating. Even now I am brought to tears knowing there is a magazine out there to help teens with answers to questions that concern them.”
Shelly Hawkes of Logan, Utah, reports: “The New Era provides resource material for my teenage son to use in family home evening. Last Monday, Harley finished a story on the power of the priesthood. I thought he was done, but he continued on to bear his testimony of priesthood power and how it blesses lives. That opened up a discussion of the situations that might give him the opportunity to bless others using the power of the priesthood he holds.”
Dale Nikolaus of Mesa, Arizona, tells of driving home with his football-playing son. “I discussed a recent New Era article comparing football and preparing for a mission. He sat quietly, staring out the window, not saying a word. I talked for a while and then drove quietly. While continuing to stare out the window he said, ‘Dad, keep talking. I’m listening.’ What sweeter words could a father want to hear?”
Teachers who read the New Era regularly find stories and quotations that enrich lessons and help explain principles on a teen level.
Leandra Snow, in Fresno, California, sometimes uses New Era articles in her early-morning seminary lessons. “The other day,” she writes, “I was looking through the latest issue and came across the article ‘Are You Saved by Grace or Works?’ Our lesson the next day was about Paul’s epistle to the Romans, and I knew that trying to explain grace and works to my students would be challenging. I felt inspired to read this article to my students, and they, in turn, understood the principle and felt the Spirit.”
Feeling the Spirit, understanding the principles, seeing the examples of peers who live those principles—we want those things for our teens. And the New Era is good at helping to deliver them.
Many teens like to feel it’s their idea to read. Leave the magazine where they are likely to pick it up.
Be familiar with the contents each month. Casually point out articles about topics you know they are dealing with.
Use the magazine in family home evening and other teaching situations.
Don’t use the New Era as ammunition in a heated discussion or a discipline situation. (You might as well roll it up and swat them with it.)
Be patient. Don’t stop providing the New Era because they don’t seem to be reading it. Many teens ignore the magazine for some time and then pick it up in a moment of crisis and find just what they need.
Powerful messages from the First Presidency and other General Authorities
The ever-popular posters
Ideas for family home evening, devotionals, etc.
Suggestions for activities
Heart-warming personal stories of teens who overcome challenges
Practical ideas on everything from personal growth and better study habits to improving family relationships
Articles on challenging current issues: pornography, gambling, substance abuse, how to respond to those critical of the Church, and more.
Find the New Era online in the Gospel Library at www.lds.org.
Read more stories about how the New Era has blessed lives in the Gospel Library at www.lds.org, where you can also find the magazine online.
How to subscribe or give a gift subscription to any of the Church magazines:
In the U.S. and Canada
By phone: 800-537-5971
Outside North America
Please contact the nearest Church distribution center or a member of your bishopric or branch presidency.