In today’s society immorality is common. About 60% of teens in the United States are sexually active. About 34% of teenage girls become pregnant. Only half of these girls will graduate from high school. Each year 25 million teens–about 25%–are infected with a STD. According to the book, Sex Love and You, teens that engage in premarital sex are likely to experience fear about pregnancy and STDs, regret, guilt, lowered self-respect, fear of commitment, and depression. As a mother of two daughters and a son I find these statistics terrifying.
A study completed by Zogby in 2003 found that 79% of parents want young people taught that, “Sex should be reserved for marriage or for an adult relationship leading to marriage.” They also found that 91% of parents want teens to be taught that, “Sex should be linked to love, intimacy, and commitment and that these qualities are most likely to occur in marriage.”
Yet obviously teens are not receiving this message. It’s easy to understand why when we look at the way teens are constantly bombarded with sexual messages from the media and their peers. So how do parents teach their children about morality?
The Family Research Council in an article titled, Abstinence Until Marriage: The Best Message for Teens, states that, “Researchers found that teens were more likely to delay intercourse when they felt emotionally connected to their parents and their parents disapproved of being sexually active.”
Parents can teach teenagers sexual abstinence by:
· Developing an open and trusting relationship, this has to begin before the teen years.
· Discussing sex in an open and relaxed manner.
· Not becoming embarrassed or angry at your child’s questions.
· Building rapport with your teen by explaining that you understand their feelings because you felt them yourselves.
· Let them know that their feelings are normal but should be kept within the bonds of marriage.
· Setting dating guidelines and encouraging group activities.
· Helping your child develop a sense of self-worth.
· Helping children make decisions now about proper conduct and how they will act when a situation arises.
· Teaching them to avoid or leave tempting situations.
· Establishing family rules such as: no members of the opposite sex allowed in bedrooms or in a house alone, do not read pornographic literature, do not pet or neck, never park on a lonely road, etc.
· Encouraging your children to take part in worthwhile activities.
· Controlling your families’ television and media viewing.
· Encouraging them to choose friends who have the same standards as they do.
In a world where immorality is the norm, parents who want their teenagers to be sexually abstinent have to take a stand and teach their teens to do the same.
See my related blogs on “Teaching Children to Live Moral Lives” and “Religion Helps Teens Make Good Choices.”