What is the best way to get my high school daughter to think about the seriousness of having sex.
You and your husband need to instill your values about sexual mores.
My daughter is a junior in high school and she has been going out with a friend of our son's
who is college age. Not long ago, she dropped a bombshell on us by declaring that she was going away for
the weekend with this boyfriend. We feel that he is too old and sexually advanced for her. Her brother
has been sleeping with his college-age girlfriend, whether we approve or not, and she wants to know why
it is all right for him and not her.
Our children's attitudes toward sex are partly the result of parental values, and largely the result
of peer pressure and societal mores, or lack thereof. As parents, you have one chance while they are
growing up under your roof to instill your own philosophy of life, morality, religion, and values. In
the meantime, expect them to be bombarded with subtle, and some not so subtle, messages from the media
about sex, sex, sex-used to sell products by fabricating a world of instant sensual gratification, universal
luxury, and sexual license, without any of the attendant responsibilities. You cannot compete with this,
some of which you are a victim of yourself. But that's life in the 21st century, for better or worse.
Many parents who straddle this no man's land between the traditional values of their own parents' generation
and the liberalism looming on the horizon-are at a complete loss as how to teach their kids restraint and
safe sex. Some parents are ambivalent, having come into their own sexuality during the hey day of the
hippie generation and free sex. Not wanting to sound old-fashioned and hypocritical, they nevertheless
want to spare their children, and especially their daughters, from the pitfalls of sex without love and
unprotected sex, not the least of which can be pregnancy, VD, and worse still-AIDS. Others have become
reactionary in their values and thinking, rallying around sexuality indirectly and free choice specifically,
as the principal threat to our entire way of life, and the biblical fulfillment of the promised doomsday.
Somewhere between such extremes lies a healthy, judicious approach to the present realities of sexual
conduct for youth in the 21st century. Certainly it has to begin with a discussion of safe sex.
Sex education in public schools is mainly focused on safe sex, a desperate reaction to the pandemic
increase in teen pregnancy. Recent studies indicate that four out of five Americans experience sex
before age 19. The result is predictably disheartening. The incidence of STDs is astonishing, with
possibly as much as 20% being incurable. Abortion. Children-out-of-wedlock. HIV-infected babies.
It's clear that despite sex education, children are engaging in unsafe sex, and paying the consequences.
What can we do as parents and educators? Atavistic and backward as it sounds to some, we have to teach
our kids values to go with the clinical instruction they are receiving on safe sex at school. If we
start talking about the healthy connection between sex and love at an early age, before puberty, peer
pressure, and indoctrination by the media-as early as 6-7 years old-we stand a chance of instilling
values and pride before it's too late.
As for your daughter, the fact that she acceded to your wishes about going away for the weekend shows
that you certainly do have a voice in her choices, especially while she is still under your roof.
While it may sound like a double standard, remind her that she is not the same as your son. First,
she is three years younger and still in high school living at home. Secondly, she is a female and
obviously at risk of becoming pregnant. This is not a double standard: merely a statement of fact.
She's being naive if she thinks otherwise. As for your son, you have every reason as parents to
expect and demand that he act responsibly in his relationship.
Now is a good time to talk to your daughter-sincerely and honestly-and find out if she is having sex,
and if so, if she is using precautions. If not-why not? Has she thought about what she would do if
she became pregnant? What would you and your husband want her to do? It's time for you to put your
cards on the table and have that heart-to-heart with her it sounds like you've been putting off.
As for the values you hope you've instilled in her, of good judgment and responsible behavior in the
matter of sex and love, if you've taught her well, then your lessons will pay off. In today's
accelerated society she's nearly at the age of legal consent. Soon she will be entirely self-determined,
and will have to live with the results of her actions. As parents, we have to prepare for the time
when we will have to let go.