“My friends tell me that swear words aren’t bad unless you’re using them to offend someone. Are there times when swear words are okay?”

Swear words are never okay. The truth is that they are always offensive. Saying that they won’t offend someone is just an excuse.

Think about it. What is worse than offending God? And one of the most common ways of swearing is to use God’s name with disrespect. Many people think that’s no longer a big deal, but it is. How do you think Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ feel when we use Their names or titles in a hateful or casual way?

Swearing isn’t just about certain words. It’s about your attitude. Unclean speech is bad because it fills your mind with unclean things. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “The language we use projects the images of our hearts, and our hearts should be pure.” He added that profanity and vulgarity “are sins that separate us from God and cripple our spiritual defenses by causing the Holy Ghost to withdraw from us” (“Reverent and Clean,” Ensign, May 1986, 49). On the other hand, using clean language sends a signal to people that you want to be clean.

The language you use also says a lot about how you deal with other people. Does what you say make it easier for those around you to live the gospel? Shouldn’t you use language that will lift them up, whether or not they share your beliefs? In the Bible, Paul said it this way: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Eph. 4:29).

So don’t use language that is vulgar, unkind, sarcastic, or rude. It dulls your spiritual sensitivity. It has a bad effect on you and on those around you.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Conversation is the substance of friendly social activity. It can be happy. It can be light. It can be earnest. It can be funny. But it must not be salty, or uncouth, or foul if one is in sincerity a believer in Christ” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 494).

“Counsel is often given to parents with wayward teenagers, but what about teenagers with wayward parents? What should they do?”

This situation is particularly difficult to deal with because parents are the ones we usually look to for guidance and direction. It’s painful to see them making wrong decisions when we’re supposed to honor them and follow their example. But there are things you can do.

Continue to pray for them. Heavenly Father hears your prayers and will answer them in His own way.

Turn to other relatives or ward members for the example and support that you may need. For example, ask your home teachers or bishop for a priesthood blessing if there are no worthy priesthood holders in your home.

Continue to be a good example to your family. You can strengthen your siblings and parents by the example of your faith. You can hold family home evening, family prayer, or family scripture study with your siblings.

Most importantly, continue to love your parents. Do not judge them. Rather, be kind and patient. They still need your love and support, just as you need theirs.

“My boyfriend is pressuring me to kiss him. I don’t feel ready, but I don’t want him to get mad at me. What should I tell him?”

If you don’t feel ready, then don’t do it. Kisses are precious, and your boyfriend might not care about you as much as you think he does if he’s trying to make you do something that goes against what you feel is good. His reaction should not dictate your decision. So what if he gets mad? At least you’ll know you did what was right.

Heavenly Father will bless you for choosing to do what is right, but it sounds like this boy will only be your friend if you do what he wants. Decide what you will do, judging from what you feel and know is right. If you need some more advice, ask your parents, bishop, or youth leader.

Your situation has probably helped you realize that steady dating at too early an age can cause lots of problems. No wonder the prophets have warned against it. It can lead to feeling pressured into doing things you don’t want to do. And it is never right to do something you know in your heart is wrong. (See For the Strength of Youth, 24–28.)

[photo] Photography by Christina Smith, posed by models