Reader Response to the Book “Young People Ask”
SOME thought they were in trouble. “I thought they wanted to counsel us on our conduct,” said one 15-year-old girl named Shereda. Others were simply apprehensive. A ten-year-old British lad named Timothy recalls: “When I found out I had to sit away from my mum and dad, I didn’t want to go.”
The cause of this anxiety? An announcement made on Friday morning of the 1989 “Godly Devotion” District Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnessesa that youths between the ages of 10 and 19 were to sit in a reserved section. Any apprehension was put to rest when the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work was released and distributed free of charge to all the youths present. The reactions?
“I was lost for words; tears ran down my face.”—Mike.
“It brought tears to my eyes when I saw the fantastic information in the book. Just the fact that it was a gift from the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses to the youth was an example of just how much they care about us.”—Eighteen-year-old Margie.
A ten-year-old named Naomi, whose father recently died, particularly appreciated receiving the book. She recalls:
“This was the first large assembly our family went to without my daddy. I was so sad the first day. But it made me happy to know that our brothers and our heavenly Father, Jehovah, are taking care of us until we have our daddy back in the new world.”
The book covers, in condensed form, about half the “Young People Ask . . .” articles that have appeared in the Awake! magazine from 1982 to 1989. It has 39 chapters, grouped by subject into ten sections. (See box next page.) What is the value of having all this information in one handy book? One youth explains: “Often I knew I should look up previous ‘Young People Ask . . .’ articles to help me with a problem, but I never seemed to get around to it. Now there’s a publication that I can pick up at any time to use as a guide.”
The Young People Ask book also has powerful visual appeal. “I love the colorful pictures,” says 11-year-old Heather. The photos portray youths from all over the world. Said a Canadian youth: “The illustrations are most captivating and well represent our real feelings when we are faced with a problem.” Little wonder, then, that many youths began devouring its contents immediately.
‘I Couldn’t Stop Reading It’
One 17-year-old girl wrote, on hotel stationery:
“We’re halfway home from our convention and have four hours of driving ahead of us. I’ve already read ten chapters.”
Some were hooked by the table of contents:
“When I read the table of contents, it was like looking at my own life. So many of the questions were ones I had asked myself at one time or another.”—Sixteen-year-old Kathy.
Even some “nonreaders” were won over:
“I don’t like reading that much, but this book is so good that when I start reading it, I can’t put it down. I have read almost the whole book in three days.”—Fifteen-year-old Jennifer.
“I’m not the best reader and don’t read a lot. After I got home from the convention, I was tired and could hardly keep my eyes open. But I thumbed through this publication, began reading, and read a whole chapter! Since then, I’ve read a chapter every day, till tonight—I read two!”—Seventeen-year-old Tiffany.
And there were some skeptics:
“I thought I would be a little too old for some parts of the book. So I started reading Section 6, ‘Sex and Morals.’ This helped me tremendously in making some major decisions. No one is too old for this book!”—Nineteen-year-old Sabrina.
Indeed, having finished it, many feel that reading it once is not enough:
“I got baptized a year ago, but things got rough, and I got depressed. Once I even ran away from home! So when I received the new book, I felt that Jehovah knew just what I needed. It is fantastic! I’ve already read it twice.”—J. S.
“I am writing down every scripture word for word inside of the book so it will make it easier for me to read the book the second time around. No exaggeration: This book has made me a better person.”—Eighteen-year-old Aida.
‘You Never Feel You Are Being Told What to Do’
Over a year has elapsed since the release of the Young People Ask book, yet appreciative comments continue to be received. Part of the reason for its success is no doubt that while it is directed to young people, the book is not childish; nor is it written in a way that makes its readers feel that they are being preached to. Some youths put it this way:
“This book even has a touch of humor to it. Backed up by God’s Word, the Bible, it is far better than any teen magazine.”
“You never feel that you are being told what to do; rather, you are made aware of several possibilities and the consequences of each one. Jehovah’s viewpoint is always clearly shown and backed up Scripturally.”
Many expressed appreciation for the tone of the writing and the insight it showed into their feelings.
“My father has never shown any form of affection for me, but the counsel contained in the book seemed to come from a loving father who counsels us for our benefit.”—Stefano, Italy.
“The feeling I immediately got was that of talking to someone who knew me very well and not that of reading a printed page.”—Myriam, Italy.
“Many of the examples used were so close to home. I could relate to them completely.”—A teenage girl.
“I know there are no teenagers on the Governing Body. Yet, all that you write about young people is so accurate; it’s like being talked to directly by Jehovah himself.”—Fifteen-year-old Aubree.
Not Just for Young People
Many chapters offer insight into problems faced by adult Christians, problems such as shyness, depression, loneliness, and unemployment. Not surprisingly, then, many adults have also expressed appreciation for the book. Said the wife of a traveling minister of Jehovah’s Witnesses:
“My husband and I don’t have any children of our own. However, I found the way the material is presented to be of value to us also. The book could just as easily have been entitled ‘Questions People Ask—Answers That Work!’”
Other adults heartily agree:
“There are sentences, phrases, and principles that have been very beneficial to my youthful life of 41.”
“You wouldn’t think a book written for young people could help a woman of 61. But it helped me to think positively about the past and to give up the grudge I have held against my parents.”
“I found out that ‘older people ask’ also. Nothing in my long years as a Christian has ever helped me more to understand myself. Incidentally, I am 74 years young.”
Letters have also been received from many Christian parents:
“I have three teenagers, and this book was an answer to my prayers. Thank you for being there for us. Satan is trying everything to draw my children away. But now I’m equipped to do my utmost with skill, thanks to this timely book.”
“This system wears us down on a day-to-day basis. My youngest child is 12, and his interest in spiritual things has taken a real beating over the past year. I can’t tell you how good it is to see that he is working toward baptism as a result of the convention and this new book.”
“Tears came to my eyes as my children received their copies. No other religious organizations care so much about their young people!”
“I’m a single parent, and I feel really scared and not qualified enough sometimes as a parent. My oldest son is 11 years old and has a teacher that doesn’t like him. How comforting to find a chapter in the Young People Ask book that dealt with that situation!”
Many testified to the effectiveness of a feature called “Questions for Discussion” appearing at the end of each chapter:
“We read the book together as part of our regular family Bible study. It has drawn all of us closer. I notice that the children are at ease with the questions, and it really lends itself to an opening up of feelings that may not be so easy to express.”
Answers That Really Work!
Of course, the test of this book’s value is not its popularity but its practicality. In other words, do its answers really work? Many youths enthusiastically affirm that they do:
“Before I read this book, I was just tagging along to the Kingdom Hall with my mother and my sister because I couldn’t stay at home alone. I was leading a double life. Now all that has changed a whole lot for the better.”
“You can leave the truth, but it doesn’t leave you. At the age of 27, I tried coming back to the Kingdom Hall—alone, scared, and repentant. I had severe bad habits and felt that God could never forgive me. But an older sister gave me the new Young People Ask book. I found that it discussed all my problems and told how to deal with them. I cried. I can’t express my appreciation enough for this book. Answers that work—and how!!!”
“The book got me to do some serious thinking. At first I really didn’t consider myself to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I had a girlfriend. I was hanging out with people of the world. I even used to steal. But after reading the book, I realized I was doing something wrong in my life. I prayed to Jehovah that he would forgive me and thanked him for giving me this wonderful new book.”
These are but a sampling of the hundreds of letters received. We are encouraged and deeply moved by the fine response of you young ones. Clearly, you want to do what is right, and you appreciate the direction Jehovah lovingly provides in his Word. It is also evident that the answers from God’s Word truly work!
You will therefore be glad to know that the series “Young People Ask . . .” in Awake! will continue dispensing sound, Bible-based advice on subjects that concern you. Do not miss a single article! And if you have not done so already, read—and reread—the publication Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work.b Share it with your classmates. Look up the scriptures cited. Discuss the chapters with your parents. Apply its counsel. And no doubt you’ll agree with 16-year-old Kent, who said: “It’s like having a handbook to help me through the most impressionable years of my life.”
a Held worldwide beginning in June 1989.
b Available by writing the publishers of this magazine.
[Box/Picture on page 11]
The Home Front:
Dealing With Family Members
1 Why Should I ‘Honor My Father and My Mother’? 11
2 Why Don’t My Parents Understand Me? 18
3 How Can I Get My Folks to Give Me More Freedom? 26
4 Why Did Dad and Mom Split Up? 34
5 How Can I Deal With My Parent’s Remarriage? 42
6 Why Are My Brother and Sister So 50
Hard to Get Along With?
7 Should I Leave Home? 56
You and Your Peers
8 How Can I Make Real Friends? 65
9 How Can I Cope With Peer Pressure? 73
A Look at How You Look
10 How Important Are Looks? 82
11 Do My Clothes Reveal the Real Me? 90
Why Do I Feel This Way?
12 Why Don’t I Like Myself? 98
13 Why Do I Get So Depressed? 104
14 How Can I Make My Loneliness Go Away? 115
15 Why Am I So Shy? 121
16 Is It Normal to Grieve the Way I Do? 127
School and Work
17 Should I Quit School? 134
18 How Can I Improve My Grades? 140
19 Why Won’t the Kids Leave Me Alone? 150
20 How Can I Get Along With My Teacher? 158
21 How Can I Get (and Keep!) a Job? 166
22 What Career Should I Choose? 174
Sex and Morals
23 What About Sex Before Marriage? 181
24 How Can I Say No to Premarital Sex? 192
25 Masturbation—How Serious Is It? 198
26 Masturbation—How Can I Fight the Urge? 205
27 Honesty—Is It Really the Best Policy? 212
Dating, Love, and the Opposite Sex
28 How Can I Get Over a Crush? 219
29 Am I Ready to Date? 225
30 Am I Ready for Marriage? 236
31 How Do I Know If It’s Real Love? 242
32 How Can I Carry On a Successful Courtship? 252
The Trap of Drugs and Alcohol
33 Drinking—Why Not? 262
34 Why Say No to Drugs? 272
35 Does It Matter What I Read? 283
36 How Can I Control My TV Viewing Habits? 289
37 Why Can’t I Have a Good Time Once in a While? 296
38 What Does the Future Hold for Me? 305
39 How Can I Get Close to God? 311
[Box on page 12]
‘My Favorite Part of the Book Is . . .’
Many youths commented on which of the ten sections (listed below) of the book Young People Ask particularly helped them:
The Home Front: “My sister and I always fight. But the book has helped me to be good to my sister. And if we fight, we say we’re sorry and that we didn’t mean what we said.”
“I used to think that my sister got everything she wanted, but I now realize I was jealous of her. I realize, too, that my parents aren’t being unfair but are only trying their best to spread their love around.”
“It helped me to know that my mom and dad didn’t split up because of me.”
You and Your Peers: “It helped me to understand that if I want a friend, I have to be one. Also, I learned not to hang around with kids who are bad associations.”
A Look at How You Look: “I thought I was overweight, and I would barely eat anything for days. But I would gorge myself the next day and gain the weight back. I decided I was ugly and unattractive. A dear friend told me to read the section on ‘looks.’ Tears ran down my face as I read it. I have now set my priorities straight, and I am concentrating on my service to God—not my appearance.”
Why Do I Feel This Way?: “I was severely depressed, to the point of having strong suicidal thoughts. Now I’ve begun trying to face my fears and have received professional help. I was so relieved to read there will be an end to this ‘constant dread.’”
School and Work: “I’ve been having trouble with my grades and with being picked on at school. I plan to use the counsel at school.”
Sex and Morals: “There are a lot of pressures put upon teens to do wrong, but by applying Bible principles, I can resist my peers.”
“I have the problem of masturbation, and it is causing me great distress. But I will make a real effort to apply this counsel and try to be the best youth I can be for my heavenly Father.”
Dating, Love, and the Opposite Sex: “I have had more than a crush on one girl for some time now. I don’t do stupid stuff or embarrass myself around her. Still, I had the feelings you described. The book helped me realize this was just infatuation and that I wasn’t old enough to date yet.”
The Trap of Drugs and Alcohol: “I am a freshman in high school, and they have already offered me drugs. The book helps me to say no.”
Leisure Time: “I used to watch TV Monday through Friday. The book helped me cut down on my TV viewing—Sunday and Friday only!”
Your Future: “I used to think that the Bible was boring—but not anymore! I try to read it 15 minutes every day!”
“It has really helped me in my prayers. Now I can talk to Jehovah as to a very close friend.”
[Pictures on page 10]
A group of youths from France sent this photo (right) as a symbol of ‘the loving protection and support’ of Jehovah and his organization in providing the book Young People Ask