Talk To Teens About Abstinence


I recently sat at a table where parents were discussing teen sex and pregnancy. The conversation drifted toward which method of birth control parents would prefer their daughters to use, and how their sons needed to understand the importance of using condoms.

As I listened, I debated whether to join the discussion because I did not agree with the assumption that all teens will have sex before marriage. It appears that many modern parents simply expect their teen-agers to be involved in sexual activity and therefore unintentionally condone premarital sex.

As a young couple, my wife and I watched wise, experienced parents as they nurtured their children. We lived in a culture where teens were expected to cherish their virtue and wait until they were married before sharing in the act of procreation.

As the table discussion continued, I decided to share the hope that our five children would remain abstinent until marriage. The first response came from a mother sitting next to me. She said, "What planet do you live on?... they're teen-agers, that's not going to happen."

Why? Why shouldn't we expect our youth to choose the best and safest way to avoid heartbreak and despair? Why shouldn't we tell them how wonderful it can be to save themselves for the right person who will be their companion in marriage?

A recent federal survey of teens for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy has confirmed what many of us hoped: teens say that when it comes to decisions about sex, their parents have the most influence in their lives -- not friends, not movies and not their hormones.

There is a new wave of programs promoting abstinence that seems to be gaining momentum. Parents and grandparents should decide now to use their influence to present this as the best form of birth control. It could even be called "life control."

It used to be the right thing to do. Let's make it right again.

Richard Haddad

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