The videos below, from Planned Parenthood are full of moral relativism and situational ethics. They are supposed to offer advice to parents on how to talk to kids about sex. Rather, they show how to be a terrible parent. Their line of thinking goes something like this:
- Teens are going to have sex.
- You should talk to them about it.
- But, no matter what you say, they will still have sex.
- You are the greatest influence in their lives.
- Yet, they are going to have sex.
- So, give them condoms and birth control.
- Because they are still going to have sex.
- Even if it isn't good for them.
- They have sex.
- You are a great parent, because you talked to them.
Therefore... Good parenting = giving your kids condoms/birth control and talking about sex.
Watch this video and then we will break it down a bit:
Here is how it starts:
"Whether we like it or not, a lot of teens are having sex. By the age of 19, seven out of 10 have had sexual intercourse. But parents of sexually active teens can make a difference."Which is it? They are going to have sex anyway or we can make a difference? I think they mean both, but the only difference you can really make is whether they use "protection" not whether they will make a bad decision (having pre-marital sex anyway) or not.
The mother in the video then continues the conversation with her daughter after asking if they are having sex...
"Good, I hope you use them every time. If you continue having sex, there's also birth control you can use with a condom that'll keep you even more protected from pregnancy and the condoms can protect you from STD's.There is some terrible parenting advice - since condoms fail so often, use birth control pills on top of them to make sure you are "protecting" yourself against what is supposed to happen when you have sex. Then she says she doesn't want the dreams of her teen to be messed up. WHAT?
Tomorrow, let's make an appointment for you. I can go with you if you want. It's definitely not okay with me if you two aren't doing all you can to protect yourselves. I know both you and Jamal have big dreams for the future, and I wouldn't want anything to mess that up."
How about you make a better decision by not having sex! Oh, but that would be too judgmental and not good "listening" on the part of the parent.
Justification of bad behavior continues in this video:
MOTHER: Yeah, way too fast. He hadn't even met her parents yet! You know I wouldn't go for that! But just curious, when do you think it's okay for people to start having sex?Moral of the story - I think it would be better for you not to have sex, but since you can't control your self and I don't trust you take some of these condoms and pills with you just in case. [wink wink]
[Kid mumbles answer]
MOTHER: Really? Listen, it may seem like everybody's doing it, but in reality, they're not. The average age people first have sexual intercourse is 17! It's perfectly normal to wait until you're older. As you know, I want you to wait until you're ready, in a healthy relationship, and prepared.
I know you might feel a lot of pressure to have sexual experiences. What would you say if you were being pressured?
[Kid mumbles answer]
MOTHER: Yeah, that's a good way to handle it; I'm impressed with your assertiveness. You know, you can always blame it on me --tell them that I'd be really upset.
MOTHER: Another way is to avoid situations where things might get out of hand, like being alone together or drinking, okay?
MOTHER: One more thing...even though I want you to wait, if you seriously start thinking about getting serious, talk to me. I want you to be prepared with birth control and condoms. Promise?
This just doesn't work. Saying one thing while crossing your fingers behind your back isn't going to work on a teen. Heck, my 6 year-old could see the out clause in this argument clearly.
You don't talk to a 16 year-old the keys about all the joys of driving fast, the greatness of Italian sports vehicles, how everyone LOVES to drive fast, tell them it feels awesome, tell them you support them no matter what and then toss the keys to a new Ferrari at them and say "I don't want you to speed, but if you do, then use the radar detector to keep you safe!"
It won't work. Never has.
That is why the Center for Disease Control states the following about condoms:
Inconsistent use can lead to STD acquisition because transmission can occur with a single act of intercourse with an infected partner. Similarly, if condoms are not used correctly, the protective effect may be diminished even when they are used consistently. The most reliable ways to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), are to abstain from sexual activity or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner. However, many infected persons may be unaware of their infections because STDs are often asymptomatic or unrecognized.Don't hand your kid the keys to a Ferrari and never take parenting advice from a group who wants to end parenthood.
IT IS A BIG DEAL!
We have to give our kids something to say "Yes" to. God is much bigger than pleasure or sex. Everytime you say "yes" to one thing you say "no" to others. When I said "yes" to my wife I ruled out loving all other women in a romantic and sexual way. Love sometimes means delaying gratification, limiting yourself, and being ready to sacrifice. Marriages are strengthened by people who have such virtue and self-control.
Furthermore, parents need to talk about the big picture of relationships with their kids:
- Why do people date and marry? Because we are made for relationships and they can draw us all closer to God and heaven by loving others.
- Why do we have these desires and feelings? They come from God and point to our need for Him.
- Is it ok to have these desires and feelings? Of course.
- How do we properly channel them? By learning chastity and self-control
- What does appropriate intimacy look like (whether emotionally or physically)? It depends on the level of the relationship, but true intimacy should be reserved for marriage.
WHY YOU MUST TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT SEX!
- If you don't teach them, someone else will. Schools, friends, and the wider culture (TV, movies, music) are shoving sex down your kids throats already. You need to have the loudest and clearest voice in this conversation. Time to be proactive about educating your kids, not reactive. Parents are the primary educators of their children. This is an obligation and a gift to teach our kids!
- You need to educate yourself so you can properly educate your children. You can't give what you don't have and your kids can't love the truth if they don't know it.
- Important conversations with your children can only help all of you. So, make sure this isn't the only topic of conversation about life you talk with your kids about. Spend time talking about important subjects in order to teach your kids communication within the framework of the family.
- We should not merely protect our kids, but prepare them to change the world. So, the goal of talking to your kids about sex is not to put a virtual chastity belt on your kids, but prepare them for what they will face in life.
- It isn't about you! Your own personal sexual baggage need not be a part of the conversation nor should it ever keep you from talking to your kids about sex.
- Your job as a parent is to form, teach, model, and help your child. Ultimately, they will make their own decisions and sometimes mess up. Your goal isn't to control your child, but to set them on a course for success in life.
- Your kids want you to help them. For a child, the most important people in their lives are their parents (even if they never admit it). So, when your kid initiates a conversation about sex, relationships, or any other important topic - drop everything else and focus whatever time you need to to listen.
- The culture could destroy your kid's life. The negative realities of having sex with someone you aren't married to should be talked about, even if they are not a focus. Sometimes people need a negative reason to say no. Single mothers, STDs, broken hearts, failed marriages, etc. are all reasons not to have extra-marital sex, even if they aren't the best reasons. Natural consequences happen. Kids know this.
- Your children's souls are worth it! Don't forget the spiritual reality is that sexual sin can kill the supernatural grace of God in you. Remember that there are two levels of forgiveness - fear and love. The lower is fear of punishment, but it is enough to have your sins forgiven. The higher is love of God. If it takes fear in order to get someone to do the right thing, use it. But, use it appropriately - hell and brimstone notwithstanding.
HOW TO TALK TO YOUR KIDS & WHAT TO TALK ABOUT
- Focus on what is most important. While you need to talk about biology, the conversations you have with your kids should focus on God's plan for our lives, character, virtue, morality, and relationships. Not biology.
- Teach them the "big picture" of sex, using the Theology of the Body and the Church's other teachings on sexuality and love. There is a reason God made us sexual beings and a healthy human is a person who has integrated their sexuality in a healthy manner. We need to teach our kids how to do this.
- Our bodies are a reflection of God. We are made in God's image and likeness and this includes our bodies, not merely our souls. Our bodies can be used for great good (imaging God, worship, love, etc.) or great evil. They are temples of the Holy Spirit made for good.
- If needed, use good resources. There are many good resources for parents. I will mention some below. Go through materials with your child, don't just give it to them to use on their own. But, don't feel tethered to the resources you use. Add or take out whatever you think is best.
- Be ok with the conversation feeling a bit awkward or your own limitations. Do your best and give your child what you have. There is nobody else who can take your place in this conversation.
- Teach them what love really is. True love = choosing what is best for another, despite what it might cost me. This kind of love is not easy, but worth it. It takes sacrifice and effort and it is the kind of love we are created by and for. This is the kind of love that says "yes" to loving another person, by not having sex until marriage.
- Sex has a dual purpose. As the Church has always taught, there is a dual purpose to sex - babies and bonding (aka - unitive and procreative purposes of sex). Talk about both.
- This should never be a one-time conversation, but an ongoing series of conversations. There is no "birds and bees talk" that covers everything. Make this formation a part of your family.
- The conversations need to start at a young age. How young? 7-8 is a good starting point. Why? 90% of 8-16 year-old children have viewed porn online. The average age for first exposure to hardcore online porn is 11. You have to talk to them before the culture gets them.
- Start the conversation with both parents (if possible). This means mom + dad + child should be the formula, especially at early ages. Try not to do it with more than one kid at a time, to stress the importance of the subject. Are there times it should be one parent? Absolutely. Dad should also talk to sons about male issues and moms with their daughters. Naturally occurring conversations with the entire family are ok, as long as their is an age-appropriate filter that takes the younger children into consideration.
RESOURCESThis list is by no means comprehensive and I would love to add others to it, so if you have one, please let me know. With any of the resources, the parents should careful read/watch them before going through them with their children.
- The Pontifical Council for the Family - The Truth and Meaning Of Human Sexuality: Guidelines for Education within the Family
- Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education - Educational Guidance in Human Love: Outlines for sex education
- Theology of the Body for Teens
- Raising Pure Teens by Jason Evert and Chris Stefanick
- PUREly YOU!
- Daughters Forever / Sons Forever
- If You Really Loved Me: 100 Questions On Dating, Relationships, And Sexual Purity by Jason Evert
- 4-part series entitled “God’s Design for Sex” by Stan and Brenna Jones from NavPress. While it isn't Catholic, my wife and I love the series and have supplemented with the Theology of the Body and fullness of the Church's teachings on sexuality. We only found 1 small issue with the entire series.
The Catholic Church is a much better resource for parenting advice.
Our Father, says so.