When it comes to the topic of sex education and how to teach it to our children, there are a lot of differing opinions.
There are a lot of arguments that since abstinence is the only way to ensure 100% that you don’t end up with an STD or an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, that we should be teaching our children abstinence and nothing else. For the most part, these people believe that offering teenagers contraceptives such as condoms and birth control pills only encourages them to engage in sexual behavior. I’ve spoken to people who believe in abstinence-only based sex education both in schools and in the home. Their hope is to instill their children with a set of morals and values that will teach them that “true love waits”, and to hold off on participating in sexual activities until marriage.
And then there are people like me, who see absolutely nothing wrong with premarital sex as long as you are being safe. We are all born with sex organs, and eventually, we become interested in using them. There is nothing wrong with this. Sex is not dirty, it’s not unnatural, and it’s not wrong. When sex becomes a problem is when people engage in it irresponsibly, and don’t educate and protect themselves. That’s how diseases spread and that’s how people get into trouble.
Of course, that’s where my morals and the morals of the “no sex until marriage” crowd differ. I see nothing wrong with experimenting sexually as long as you do it responsibly. To be perfectly and utterly frank, I could not imagine marrying someone without having had sex with them. But that’s just me.
I understand the difference in morals and in core values. I can agree to disagree with people who think that sex needs to wait until the vows are exchanged. What I can’t agree to disagree with is teaching our teenagers that abstinence is the one and only method of birth control, and I will tell you why.
I fully plan on educating my daughter and empowering her to respect and protect both her body and her vagina. As her mother, it’s my job to guide and teach her in all aspects of her life and this includes the topic of her sexuality, when she gets old enough for the subject to be brought up. I know that she is only human; she is not perfect and by ignoring the fact that she will one day have hormones and desires like every other human being on the face of the planet is setting her up to get into trouble. Do I want her to engage in sex as a teenager? Not particularly. Am I going to celebrate and take her out to dinner if she decides to have it? No. I want to teach my daughter that her body is something to be respected and that she doesn’t have to just give it to the first boy who looks at it appreciatively but I’m also not going to teach her that enjoying sex is a horrible, dirty thing that makes her a whore.
My plan is to have a conversation with her and talk to her honestly. Explain the consequences that having sex can have, and be very plain with her the responsibility that being sexually active holds. I want my daughter to feel safe in coming to me with questions, with problems, and to not be afraid that I’m going to judge her or get angry. If my daughter is going to have sex, I would rather her be armed with the knowledge and the tools to engage in it in a safe and responsible manner. I had sex when I was a teenager. I lost my virginity at the age of 16 to someone I was very much in love with at the time. I don’t regret my decision at all. We were protected; we used a condom and I was on the Pill. This is because my mom taught me to be safe. If she had “forbidden” me to do it and hadn’t taken me to get birth control pills, you know what? I would have done it anyway. Just without the extra protection of the Pill.
The trouble with abstinence-only sex education is that it’s relying on the hope that your children will abide and live by your morals and standards. Hope, and that’s all. You can grind into their heads that “sex can wait” all you want but the fact remains that they’re eventually going to have minds and wills of their own… And the bottom line is that they simply may not share your beliefs. Hope all you want to, but hoping isn’t going to keep your daughter from getting pregnant if she finds herself in the throes of passion and ends up having unprotected sex with her boyfriend, because you didn’t teach her the importance of using a condom.. The subject of condoms never even came up because you didn’t want to encourage her to have sex. If you are so adamant in your teachings and so unapproachable when it comes to the matter of sex, do you think your teenager is going to come to you with questions about how to be safe should they decide they might want to experiment? No. They’re going to be afraid of disappointing and angering you. They’re probably going to do it anyway, but without the knowledge to protect themselves.
I think that teaching our teenagers that abstinence as the only true way to stay safe is fine, because that is absolutely the truth. However, I feel that if you’re going to take that route with your children you should at least make them aware of the other methods of birth control that are available to them. Telling your children about condoms and even giving them condoms isn’t going to motivate them to have sex, it’s just going to ensure that if they do find themselves in a weak moment, they’re going to be safe. In my opinion, it’s my job as a parent to make sure my daughter is safe in all aspects of her life.
So, what do you think? Where do you stand when it comes to the topic of sex education?