As a teacher this is a hard topic in class. Where is my place to be putting my views of this to teens? Parents should be talking to their kids about it but sadly this is not the case. I was fortunate enough (or would it be embarrassed enough?) to have one of my parents – my mom – that would answer any question I had about any topic even if it was about sex or how the body works. When I say any question . . . I mean ANY question. Honest to goodness, she would talk openly about anything using the correct words or slang if she needed to. She never really gave any sign that she was embarrassed or put off at all. Looking back, it was a very rare choice for a parent.
Sadly, most kids struggle with this topic of sex and relationships. Sadly again, their role models are much to be desired too. How can a kid get good solid mentoring about having kids or sex when their mom or dad are kids themselves? How can they get good guidance when their mom or dad have had several divorces with unhealthy relationships and lots of step children? Who do they turn to with questions if their parents are too shy or uncomfortable to even bring up the topic? I am sure that there are many who are reading this are screaming in their heads – Yeah! Where were they when I needed them! It was hard for me even when I knew I had Ma to answer anything I was curious about and I was really embarrassed to ask much. I can’t imagine the kids with all those other situations. It must have been a long tumultuous lost time in their lives. Maybe it still is.
Well it came up again. It usually does once in a year with freshman. They want to know with someone like me who is so outspoken about my commitment to my wife and my obvious happiness what I think about sex as a teen and relationships. Today it stemmed from a conversation about getting Herpes from a toilet seat. Can you see how this can lead to the whole topic of teen sex and right and wrong? It can’t be avoided.
So a kid asked me what I thought about teens having sex. So, in my usual straight forward way that I always answer a question given with true intent, this is what I said to them:
Personally, I think that teens should be doing the Abstinence thing. Abstinence is not having sex at all. (background noise and obvious disagreement) Yeah, I know. Telling an average teen this is like telling a baby not to eat candy. But, I am a realistic person too. I would be stupid and know this view to be unrealistic. So this is what I really need to say - for goodness sake be protected. I will say this – and I am talking to girls mainly because I am a dad– if a guy is trying to talk you into unprotected sex, he is not one to be trusted and stayed with. He obviously does not care about your health and safety. Someone who loves you does not do that. He has no sense of consequences and will not be responsible for his actions. He does not think of future struggles and hardships and is only thinking of the moment. I am serious. You need to drop him and just do without a boyfriend awhile. It is a hard thing to hear but I believe what I say. You can mull it over and decide for yourself.
Now that got a pretty quick response. After the response and cluttering voices died down a little, I told them that I have been around a long time and have seen a lot and witnessed a lot. I am positive of my opinion. These kids are inundated with the whole consequences thing - everything from babies to STDs. I usually talk feelings and relationships. Feelings are what drive these kids and if I can pair feelings with a bit of common sense, maybe I can make a connection for them to make good choices.
I may get some calls from it but most likely not. Kids don’t usually talk about these types of conversations outside of class. It does not matter though for me. I will stand by my words since I truly think that they are true to form. I am promoting wise and cautious behavior. How can that be frowned upon? It can and will because some people can’t stand that their kids are going to hear talk that make them – the parent- uncomfortable or that they may have their baby hear something that they may lose some false sense of innocence with. As a 9th grader, all that is a moot point to me. If they ask I will tell them what they want to know and I will promote abstinence first and protection next. I will also promote healthy relationships with a respect for the other’s body and health. How can I not do this as an educator?