Teaching Abstinence


Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder

Despite meaning well, we often deliver the wrong message to our teens. When we caution them to practice "safe s^ex," we are actually encouraging them to have s^ex. They don't need very much encouragement to follow that advice! And if they do so, they discover far too late that children and teens having s^ex is like living in the eye of a tornado. The storm leaves rubble in its wake. Broken dreams and hearts are unavoidable outcomes of casual s^ex. If we wish to support and nurture our children, assure their success and happiness, we need to give them sound advice. That advice is: practice abstinence. Save s^ex for marriage.

What's so terrible about teaching kids to practice safe s^ex by using a condom? First, there's no such thing as "safe" s^ex. After all, accidents happen all the time. Condoms slip off or rupture, making an unprepared young woman pregnant. True, the microscopic openings, or pores, in a latex condom are small enough to prevent semen and bacteria from passing through. But those same openings are HUGE when compared with the size of a virus, such as those that cause HIV and AIDS. So, condoms cannot completely protect one from virus-based STD's.

When the intimacy of s^ex is shared by children, confusion reigns. Raging hormones and extreme pleasure may be misinterpreted as "love." They may decide to marry, only to discover a few years later that they're not in love after all. The result? A traumatic divorce. The young woman is now a single mom. Imagine her pain and the difficulty of her life. What about her baby's suffering? How do you think it feels to be abandoned by your father?

If we fail to teach our children about abstinence, the number of single moms can be expected to rise. Research on single-parent homes reveals unpleasant statistics. First, they are six times more likely to be poor than two-parent families. Second, unmarried mothers are less likely to get prenatal care and more likely to have low-birthweight babies. Third, children born out of wedlock are three times more likely to depend on welfare as adults. Fourth, the children of single-moms tend to be underachievers in school, have behavioral problems, and experience higher rates of psychiatric disorders. Fifth, young men raised without fathers are twice as likely to get involved in criminal behavior than those with fathers. Sixth, 70% of juveniles that have been taken into custody come from fatherless homes. Seventh, young white women who grow up in fatherless homes are more than twice as likely to have children out of wedlock than those who don't.

Premarital s^ex also increases the rate of cheating after marriage, emotional problems, and s^exual dysfunction. Relationships are supposed to be based on communication, which leads to knowledge, understanding, respect, love, marriage, and s^ex. But s^exually active teens reverse the process by putting s^ex, and perhaps marriage, first. By neglecting to develop their communication skills, they move from one failed relationship to the next. How can all the suffering caused by premarital s^ex be called SAFE? No, "safe s^ex" isn't safe, it's damaging, and it's time we help our kids find this out.

Children can't be scared into practicing abstinence, they have to want to do it. I taught my children at an early age about the dangers of smoking. I didn't preach morality or threaten them. I simply gave them the facts. They are now adults that have never smoked and cannot imagine wanting to. It's the same with s^ex. Give your children the facts and ammunition to succeed.

Moms, teach your daughters about boys. "Boys are less mature than you. Although you are likable and lovable, their urges have nothing to do with love. They are motivated by raging hormones, curiosity, the need for conquests to prove their 'manliness,' and the desire for experience, which they will apply to another relationship. It has nothing to do with love and nothing to do with you. s^exually, they will automatically go as far as possible, as far as you allow them to. Your job is to put on the brakes. Do your job well."

Moms, give your daughters ammunition. Retorts. Give them ready answers to prepare them. For example, if their boyfriend tries to French kiss them, teach them to push him away gently and say, "Sorry, French kissing is upper persuasion for lower invasion, and I will have no part of it." Explain to your daughter, "You can't blame the boy for trying, but if you set the limits he will respect them and you. If he doesn't, he's not worth associating with, so drop him." What if her boyfriend says, "But, honey, I love you. I need to express my love for you physically." Teach your daughter to say, "Love is the way you treat somebody, not how you feel about them." Moms, you've got to know what's going on during your daughters' dates. Keep the lines of communication open. Teach your daughters to confide in you and speak openly and frankly.

Parents, to help your kids, you need to give explicit advice. Don't speak in vague generalities. For instance, don't say, "Avoid s^ex until you meet the right person, until you are in love." Remember, a fourteen year old child may believe their partner is the "right" person and that they are in "love." You need to speak with precision: "Abstain from s^ex until you marry."

Don't be afraid to use the "A" word, abstinence. Set the goals of your children high. If they aim for the stars and miss, they may "only" reach the mountaintop, but that's far better than landing in the gutter. Isn't it true that we all practice abstinence? Isn't that what you're doing right now? Isn't that what you do when you have lunch or dinner in public and when you're attending a business meeting? The same is true for your children. They just need to learn how to fill in the gaps so they are always abstinent until the day they marry. They don't have to control themselves forever; it's temporary, you know. It's not a question of whether your children have s^exual desire, but whether s^exual desire has them. Teach them the art of self-discipline and you will teach them the art of self-mastery. Teach them how to redirect that pent-up s^exual energy into creative and athletic activities. Free them from the need to experiment with s^ex and you will free them from much heartache, sorrow, regret, and pain. Properly educated, your children will be proud to be abstinent; after all, abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.

© Chuck Gallozzi
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