Thursday, March 26, 2009

Parental monitoring and virginity pledges

A new op-ed about my paper written by an evangelical motivational speaker in the Christian Post and I actually agree with it. He says that parents give their children too much privacy in which to be sexually involved, and they are deluding themselves to think their children are not taking advantage of the privacy, and being lured into false complacency by their children's involvement in church activities. Definitely, parental monitoring is more important than any program that a school or church can run. As for the specifics of what parents' policies should be, it's of course up to the parents. Banning teenagers from being behind closed doors with the opposite sex is one approach, but of course far from fool-proof. Some parents would say that their teens are eventually going to be behind closed doors, and they would rather it be in their house than being somewhere else without parental back-up in case they find themselves in an uncomfortable situation.

I once met a woman raised in one of the most right-wing Chassidic groups where boys and girls never interact at all, where they are thrown out of school if they are seen together in public, where everyone in the neighborhood knows everyone else, and are certainly never allowed to be behind closed doors, and somehow she managed to have premarital sex when she was 16. Her first language was Yiddish, and her English was not terrific, so I never found out exactly how she circumvented all the controls, but she did. So it's not clear how often the op-ed writer's strategy works, and he may not know himself.

Also, his logic that it's better to keep teens from dating one person consistently because that leads to emotional ties that leads to sex assumes that teens become physically intimate only with people that they have emotional ties with. Many parents would say it's better to learn to have emotional intimacy with the opposite sex and have sex with at most one person, than to prevent emotional intimacy and risk that their child would become physically intimate with more than one person.

None of these questions have easy answers: there are positives and negatives for all parental policies, and mistakes are inevitable no matter what. But it is good to see such a frank discussion of the importance of parents and parental monitoring.

Best quote.

I am stunned at how blatantly stupid some Christian parents seem to be when it comes to sexual things. They let their kids watch all kinds of blatantly sexual images in movies and on television with little thought of how those images and messages can affect them. I know of a pastor friend who allowed his young daughter to see the movie Titanic at least 11 times. This same pastor was all worried about anything she saw that he deemed to be satanic, like Harry Potter, but not at all concerned about his 14 year old daughter learning the lessons found in a movie like Titanic. And the lessons are very simple: If you really like a boy you can let him see your boobies and he can draw pictures of your boobies, and if you really like him, you can have sex with him two days later…

Look, the chances of your teenage daughter wanting to jump on a broom and fly around the room are pretty low. But, the chances that your daughter’s boyfriend will want to touch her boobies, well… I’d give that a pretty big chance, wouldn’t you? Talk about straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel! We need to get our priorities straight.

What's wrong with the word "breasts"? I think that's a far less objectionable word choice than his.

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