If you're a parent, you know you're going to have to teach your kids about sex eventually -- if you haven't already. The problem parents face is that the cultural messages are in direct conflict with most parents' values. True, not all parents teach their children the same values. But how many parents do you know who actually want, or encourage, their children to have sex?
Not many. Research shows that most parents do not want their children to engage in sexual activity. The question isn't whether or not this is true; the question is how parents can keep it from happening.
The naysayers will tell you you can't. The naysayers will tell you "kids will be kids." I say hogwash. While I can't be there at the precise moment my children are alone with a member of the opposite sex, while I can't make them do the right thing, everything I will have taught them up to that point will have a direct effect on what they choose to do at that moment.
There's a common misperception in today's culture that if parents did things when they were young that they shouldn't have (and who hasn't?), they can't expect their children to do anything different. But raising children to think, act, or behave in a way that's different from the way you did when you were young is entirely possible -- and does not make a person a hypocrite. Expecting young people to behave in a certain way because you learned the hard way what doesn't work is perfectly appropriate. In fact it's your moral obligation to do so.
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Dr. Laura Schlessinger (I'm thinking of her since she's known for being "preachy") is a woman who has taken a lot of heat over the years for supposedly not practicing what she preaches. How can she moralize, or tell people what they should or shouldn't do, when she herself has a checkered past?
Simple. Preaching right from wrong doesn't mean the person who's preaching thinks she's perfect, nor does it suggest she's led a perfect life. On the contrary, it's because the person who's preaching hasn't lived a perfect life that he feels compelled to share what he's learned. As parents, our checkered pasts represent lessons we've learned. We have a responsibility to pass these lessons on to our children. When it comes to sex, this same theory applies.
When it comes to sex education, our culture vascillates between two opposing philosophies: abstinence education and "safe sex," or "comprehensive," education. But neither approach is effective. If the goal is for teenagers to abstain from sex, the only way to do this is to instill the time-honored value of self-respect.
Teaching self-respect takes the concept of premarital sex out of the debate -- which takes care of the liberal argument against abstinence education -- while also taking the focus off of contraception. Self-respect is about self-esteem. Not the fake kind of self-esteem modern culture tries to teach our children -- where kids are taught to think highly of themselves for merely existing -- but real self-esteem. The kind where a child thinks enough of himself that he wouldn't entertain the idea of having sex with just anyone.
This may seem a pie-in-the-sky-notion, particularly for boys. After all, if a girl offers herself to a boy, he's going to take her up on it. Maybe so. But he can't take what isn't offered. Does this mean the responsibility falls more on girls? Probably. Is this fair? No. But it's life.
So, on that note, what will I teach my daughter? I will teach her that she and her body are so special that it will take a person of great character to be allowed access to it. I will teach her that the more she holds out, the more respect she will have for herself -- and the more respect boys will have for her. I will tell her that sex is not for recreation, that no one -- boy or girl, in my opinion -- should treat his or her body like an amusment park for other people to take joy rides. I will also tell her that sex isn't solely for procreation. It is, however, something that should only be considered in the context of a mature relationship. (Incidentally, I will tell my son this same thing -- though in his case I will emphasize respect for women, as opposed to self-respect. Why? Because how many men do you know who've become despondent over women using their bodies for pleasure? I can just hear them now: "Use me! Use me!")
Teenagers, as a rule, do not engage in mature relationships. They are certainly capable of love, and even maintaining long-term relationships. Those who are mature, and who've been raised within a moral framework, will handle themselves well when faced with the inevitable desire to sleep with the person they love. Unfortunately, the vast majority of teenagers do not fall into this camp. Today, the vast majority of teenagers, or even young adults, "hook up" with one another for fun.
At least the boys do. Girls have sex for an entirely different reason: acceptance. Despite all the feminst rhetoric about sexual equality, one things remains constant: boys and girls are not the same. A boy will have sex purely for physical reasons, but a girl's reason is almost always an emotional one. This is one of the reasons girls are harmed the most by premature sexual activity. (That, and the obvious: pregnancy.)
For this reason alone, it's imperative girls be taught self-respect. But they're not. Instead, the adults around them -- whether they're parents, mentors, guidance counselors, or women in the media -- let them know time and time again that all there is to sex is being "safe."
This is pure bunk. There is nothing safe about safe sex. Safe sex is an insidious lie that's shamelessly hawked in modern culture. Casual sex is a bad deal for women any way you look at it.
Feminists, liberals, and blind followers will hate this message. But look at the mess their message has caused.