Can We Talk About Abstinence and Contraception OR is it a Mixed Message?
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Advocates for Youth.
Parents care about their children and want them to grow up healthy and safe. They want their children to avoid an unplanned teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and HIV. Some want their children to avoid sexual intercourse or other sexual behaviors until they are old enough to make good, informed, and responsible decisions. Others want their children to wait until they are married.
Parents worry that, if they talk about both abstinence and contraception, then children will become confused, or will not hear the abstinence message. Others suggest that there is always a mixed message that results when both abstinence and contraceptive information are taught.
When parents hear that talking with their children may create a mixed message, it concerns them. We have learned from somewhere that "mixed" messages may be bad for the child. Actually, mixed or multiple conflicting messages are what most children are accustomed to hearing.
From a very young age, children hear more than one message about a topic. One parent or caregiver may emphasize that eating everything on one's plate is important because food should not be wasted. With another parent/caregiver, the child may be told he/she does not have to eat everything, if full.
A nine-year-old may explain that in her health class she learned that kissing someone is dangerous because you can get very sick. She then sees her parents kissing, and she receives kisses from relatives and friends. Children learn that different adults (and siblings) have differing views and behave in ways that may conflict with information they receive.
A common technique in parenting is to give children choices about behaviors, with consequences to consider. Most of today's childrearing books suggest that parents must help children to learn to make decisions beginning at a very young age. In order to select the best choice and make a decision, children need to understand options, alternatives, consequences, and different values.
A student of mine once said to me, "Hearing about both abstinence and contraception helped me make a more responsible sexual decision. Had I not had a class where both were presented, a thorough discussion between my partner and I would probably never have taken place. I knew after hearing all the considerations that we were not ready for the responsibility."
Reprinted with the permission of Advocates for Youth.
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Social Cognitive Theory
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- The Homework Debate
- Problems With Standardized Testing