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off on a rant

Does size matter to your teen? Maybe the real question is, should it? I saw the ad for the above ruler at the Planned Parenthood store when those shirts came out. I questioned the topic of the rulers, but let it go for a while. I suppose you see things like this differently when you actually have a teenage daughter. Back before I had kids, I was one of those naive people who would say things like "I'm going to let my kids make their own decisions when it comes to sex. Yea, I'm going to be a cool parent." And then I had a kid and that idea went to hell. To make matters worse, I had a daughter. Suddenly, the idea of being casual about my kids having sex seemed ludicrous. My daughter is 14. She's taken the requisite sex ed classes already. She knows the ins and outs (no pun intended) of sexual activity, sexually transmitted diseases and appropriate and inappropriate touching. She knows about reproductive health, pregnancy, and condoms. I'm ok with all of that. Forewarned is forearmed. We talk about this subject honestly and I know how Nat feels about boys and relationships. Honestly, my daughter is too self-centered to be bothered with a steady boyfriend. And she's too proprietary over her personal space to be into even minor kissing. She tells me this and I believe her, because we've established a relationship based on trust. But how hard is it for even the most chaste girl to remain so in this society? Even teenage girls who aren't interested in sex are still interested in being sexy. The shorts are short, the skirts are shorter and the shirts barely come below the breasts. I cringe as I watch a parade of girls walking through the mall, all showing more skin than clothing. Where do these girls get the message that they must dress this way in order to impress? Who told them that wearing suggestive messages on their shirts and folding down their sweats so their ass cracks show is a proper way to carry yourself? It would be easy to blame the media here, but someone is buying these girls their clothes. Someone is letting them walk out of the house dressed that way. For the life of me, I can't fathom why any parent would let their teenage daughter wear a shirt that says "My boyfriend's out of town." We're talking about teenage girls here, mostly in the 12-16 range. Then again, what can you expect when even our Olympic athletes do the skank routine (might be NSFW)? [they will also be appearing in Playboy] I decided to take a look at teenwire.com (the teen appendage of Planned Parenthood) to see if I could get an idea of what the average teenager is up to in regards to sexuality. Here, go look at this advice page. I'll wait. Are you as appalled as I am? I hope so. Or am I just a prude or hopelessly naive when it comes to teens and sex? There are words on that page I never even heard of until I was in my 20's. Kids are doing things I haven't attempted myself. Anal sex? They are giving advice on anal sex to teenagers? I don't buy into the "oh, they're going to do it anyhow, so let's just educate them properly about it" attitude. Maybe they are going to do it (it obviously including every kind of sex imaginable) but my daughter is not. Sure, sex can be wonderful and pleasurable and beautiful. But not when you're 14 and you don't fully understand the emotional consequences of giving it up at such an early age. How many 14 year old girls are going to remain with the guy they are with now? Does anyone tell these girls that 10 years from now they are going to most likely regret all of their sexual escapades? 14 year old girls go through guys faster than Jennifer Lopez. Are we supposed to believe that it is healthy for these girls to go down on every guy they date? I'm sorry, but a girl at this age is not capable of having a deep, meaningful, mutually respectful, healthy relationship that could withstand the emotions that come with intimately sharing your body with someone. Somewhere between Nat's birth and puberty, I became a proponent of abstinence. Not condoms, not any other kind of birth control, not even oral sex as a replacement for intercourse. Complete abstinence. Oh, I'm sure I'm being unrealistic. But as a parent, it is my job to keep my daughter safe. Not only physically safe, but emotionally safe as well. It's a huge task and I know there will be hurts that I cannot prevent nor heal. But why open the door for things that can only end badly? I know her heart will be broken several times, it's pretty much inevitable. If I can prevent the damage that comes from having sex or giving your body to someone before you are emotionally equipped to do so, then I'll do my damndest to complete that part of my job. Looking through all the questions and answers on teenwire.com, I see some thoughtful suggestions and advice. I am more unnerved by the fact that teenagers are questioning how to give a proper blowjob than the fact that there is a site answering that question. Still, I have to wonder about the size matters ruler. I don't get it. I don't know what the message is supposed to be. Right now the only message that matters to me is the one I am giving my daughter: Your body is not a commodity. Respect yourself. Barring that, the other message is: I know a nice convent that's looking for a few good nuns. [This has been the unedited rant of a somewhat worried mother of a soon-to-be high school student.]

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Comments

Would that more parents were like you, Michele.

A side-benefit of telling your daughter that her body is not a commodity is that she won't come home with a scar on her back from selling a kidney.

i have two daughters, 3 and 4, and i lay awake nights thinking about this stuff. how should i approach the subject 8,9,10 years from now? if i tell them "don't have sex!" then perhaps they'll think they can't come to me if they're having sex and get into trouble. i also don't want to give them the impression that sex is a-ok.
i'd love to say something like, "look, your hormones are going to try to convince you otherwise, but please be aware of that and realize intellectually that sex right now is NOT okay."

With you all the way.Mine is 7 ,and it is insane how loose people are about decency.We were watching Jeff Corwin on TV one night and they went into a riff about him not wearing unerwear,and she asked me what is that about.I calmly told her that some people have hygiene issues and laughed about it,but,c'mon,where can a parent go to maintain that innocence that is so precious?When I complained on their website I was treated like a Purtian psycho.The clothes thing,OMG,what they sell for 7 yr olds appalls me,let alone teens.Sounds like you and Nat are doing OK.Good luck.

My daughter is six, and I think about this stuff too. My worst seems to be the "hooking up" version of dating. Where a young girl gets treated like a hooker you don't have to pay.
I'm trying to provide my children with self-respect, if society isn't going to help at least it can get out of the way.

my parents taught us about sex from a fairly young age. They taught us the proper names for things. How babies are formed, everything. But at the same time, everytime they taught this. They taught that God created sex for our pleasure in the proper time and place. And that proper time and place was after marriage, with our husbands.

It was never even a question for either of us whether we would "try out" sex before marriage. That wasn't the place for it. Period.

My parents' expectations were high. And we strove to meet them.

I have to think if they had taught us all this, and said "But if you have sex, be sure to use a condom" that neither my sister nor I would have waited (esp because I was 30 years old when I got married. And had a couple of guy friends who I wanted to do something for because I felt sorry for them). Because the expectation aired would have then been NOT to remain abstinent. But, rather, to protect yourself.

It is damned worrisome. I have tried to teach my kids values, but the almost constant stream of this stuff is overwhelming.

My daughter Georgia, at age 2, can locate her vagina, breasts, and butt. This is intentional. It is better to label the body parts correctly so that there is less of a stigma behind them and helps children with their sexual identity (as in gender).

I want my daughter to be comfortable asking questions because I want to avoid having her make the awful mistake of having sex before she is ready.

Dean Esmay is having a conversation from the opposite end of the spectrum. One of his readers suggested that a good gift for a teenage girl was a dildo and a masturbation book.

I cannot rule my daughter's life with an iron fist if I plan on having her be herself, so I will have to try my damndest to educate her and let her know that she doesn't have to have anal to be respected or give hummers to be popular. But I'll be fighting a system that preys on her insecurity. Sigh...

We would all want our children to grow up innocent but smart. The only thing is, with knowledge comes a loss of innocence; so you can't always have both. I guess the only thing we can do as parents is arm our kids with awareness and pray they make the right decisions. The reason this causes us all such worry is because it is a direct reflection of the values we as parents have instilled in our children. Trusting the kid to choose the right is kind of the ultimate test of how good a daddy(or mommy) you are.

My two daughters are 19 and 18 and believe me, it doesn't get any easier. Communication is the key. You also need to somehow convince them that they can benefit from your experience. My parents always told me that there was nothing I could do that they did not have some experience with. Planned Parenthood is an easy out for children who have nowhere else to go.

God Bless and good luck!

My daughter was born in March 2000 and I was a conservative by December 2000. There were other things going on as well, but this was a big part. As she's 4, we haven't quite reached that point yet, but I expect in a few short years I will be haranguing store clerks everywhere with the question: "Why do you expect my daughter to dress like a whore? Do you dress your daughter like a whore, because that seems to be the only kind of clothes you sell."

Well, I probably really won't do that, but it iwll be tempting. One teenagre recently wrote Nordstrom's with a complaint to this effect, and actually prompted a decent response:

http://www.capecodonline.com/cctimes/skimpy25.htm

If my mom could see these teenage girls today, then maybe she wouldn't think, I was goin to hell, because I pegged my levis back in 1965. It is always something. I think they probably are cutting into the strip bar's business. 'Why go to a strip bar when you can see it on the street'.

I agree with the concept of sex education - the "how it works" variety. Better to show someone what a bomb looks like before they pick one up and set it off.

I can't agree with teaching practical sex enhancement techniques to teens. They can get those tips (also no pun intended) later, when they are adults.

Maybe I'm a prude, but this is way over the top.

I would assume the anal stuff was for gay males? Didn't read it, tbh. I know some guys like the idea of jiving a girl up the ass, but how many girls are into this? For real? Why either would want to be might be a better question.

I'll say this, I'm not a parent, so maybe I have a different POV, but the page doesn't bother me at all. It's just the US catching up to the rest of the world as far as sex education goes. And this page is hardly an anomaly. There are many out there just like it.

I guess the way I see it, with Bush trying to take over school sex ed with ridiculous abstinence only programs, pages like this are needed.

I don't have a daughter (although I'm happy to say that I might soon) but I've often thought that more frank talk about the emotional and dangerous aspects of sex would be appropriate. I also do not for the life of me understand why anyone thinks that classes in kids which promote abstinence, monogamy, and marriage as an ideal are a bad thing. It has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with common sense.

Girls are peculiarly vulnerable when it comes to sex but boys are hardly invulnerable. Abstinence is an option and should be promoted as safe, healthy, and totally acceptable. Giving girls the right encouragement to say "no" seems like a good idea to me, and telling boys they don't have to be ashamed at "not getting any" is also good.

I think what I find most disturbing about that planned parenthood site is not that it gives frank answers to real questions, but that it does so little to discuss the alternatives and does so much to make sex totally acceptable for teens.

No they're not "promoting" it, they're just emmbracing it. If there's much difference.

And here's the thing: the most common slander in response to all this will be to say that those who are objecting are prudes, fundamentalists, want to force their personal morality on others, etc. Bah.

Thanks for such an informative blog.
I have already sent your link to family and friends with young kids.

I am so glad to be a prude! The liberal media, liberal Democrats are doing what they can to destroy the wall between adults and childhood.

Check out this Dennis Prager article;
http://www.townhall.com/columnists/dennisprager/dp20040803.shtml

Yes, Ratan. Pages that tell teens how to give a proper blowjob and how to make anal sex more comfortable are really needed. Because Bush made it so.

Pardon me while I dismiss your entire post.

Ratan,

Come back when you are a parent and we'll see how much your opinion has changed.

Thanks Michele, another well expressed and much needed post.

I don't have a daughter yet. I have a 20 month old boy and I think it is equally important to be teaching our young men how to properly value women. In my naive opinion, it is like how you fight prostitution, without johns, there is no market for hookers. If you have boys rejecting this idea, then the girls will stop looking and acting that way.

Well said Michele.

I have little problem with an academic approach to sex ed; I have a huge one with their advocacy however. And this is advocacy, pure and simple.

Side thought: PP is a business, for the most part. This site is clearly part of their marketing approach to making their services more palatable and necessary.

call it brand building, which is was it is.

thanks for the tip on this, and props to your nicely crafted commentary.

Dean said:

"And here's the thing: the most common slander in response to all this will be to say that those who are objecting are prudes, fundamentalists, want to force their personal morality on others, etc. Bah."

This is so true. Of course, it's perfectly fine for them to shove their ideas down everyones throats (please pardon the image that brings to mind....)

I am far from a prude, but I think this kind of thing is just plain wrong.

As is Carrot top.

i concur.

Good point rod,i agree.It goes to the whole "choice" thing being one-sided.Here is the SF area,I regularly have women ask if I will teach my daughter about her"choice"in abortion rights,and when I tell them that I will teach her that she should wait until she is married and ready to have children they treat me like a bloody heathen.

As our society becomes more homoerotic and slouches toward acceptance of pedophelia, I am the father of 4 daughters ages 16, 14, 12 and 10 (and two sons, ages 7 and 1.5) and a good reason why they are smart, well-informed and don't date is that they aren't subjected to the sick fantasies of "pushing the envelope" entertainers and writers whose only talent is to titillate, not to elevate.

Want to stack the deck in favor of raising good kids? Pull the cable TV plug and install Cybersitter and have your Internet-ready computer in the living room, NEVER in a kid's bedroom where the door can be closed. No R rated movies without a parent. None. Not in the VHS or DVD player, either.

Oh, and sending them to a parochial school that at least pays lip service to standards and values is also beneficial.

One of the best techniques I have is to be clear that I have 3 answers to most questions: yes, no and not yet. The last REALLY comes in handy since it is really a "yes, but not now". That way, kids feel like they aren't being thwarted but parented. The answer they hear is "yes", but it's qualified. It's a confirmation that while the instinct may be right (and the joy of sex is a Divine blessing or else He wouldn't have made it feel so darned great... even long after one's procreative years), the timing isn't. A good question to ask when confronted with whining on this issue is "Would you want a younger sister, maybe 2 years younger, doing this, too?" It reinforces that the girl probably DOES agree that there is a time/place that is premature. Another good argument is to ask "When you are 35 and have been married for a while to the right man, do you really think that you'll have wanted to have been with other men? Think about it... isn't intimacy inversely related to variety? Would you EVER want your husband thinking about any of the 20 other women he's been with when he's with you?"

And parents of boys need to tell their sons that it is NOT ok to play the field and screw around. Want to put the fear of G-d in them? Be crystal clear from when he reaches the age of 11 that you will boot the bum out, no second chances, if he is caught having penetrative sex (straight, oral or anal) with anyone. No car. No rent. No $ to pay to have an abortion. No apologies and coming back after. No experimentation until they are ready to leave home forever. Sex is the "fruit from the tree of knowledge" and you get kicked out of the Garden of Eden (home) for violating this rule.

Kids suffer from VNDS: "Vitamin 'No' Deficiency Syndrome." You are a parent, not a "best friend".

More power to you, Michele.

Aaron, I'm going to have to take issue with this:

more homoerotic and slouches toward acceptance of pedophelia

Can you expand on that, please?

Also, we do have cable tv. I don't think removing cable all together is the answer; you just have to know what your kids are watching and set ground rules. Removing all temptation is not going to teach them about making good decisions.

Personally, the site doesn't offend my sensibilities. I'd like to think that my relationship with my children would be open enough that they could talk to me about this stuff. "Hey dad, what's with this website that tells me how to play with someone's ass?" "Oh, that's just some PP bullshit kiddo." Then I could explain the issue to them, and why the PP approach is lacking. There are worse things going on in this world that directly effect my teens' moral growth than the libbies down at PP running around giving tips on how to stroke it.

I saw this site a few weeks ago and I have to say I was upset. I have a nine year old girl and I tend to worry about this sort of thing all the time. Matter - of - fact she asked me the other day what does BJ mean. I said wha wha do you mean? She says...like BJs towing...hmmmm I narrowly escaped that one. The problem I have with this site is they are trying to take over the role of the parent. Spreading their values to your child that its okay to be loose and have all sorts of sex -- but be sure to where a condom.

I agree with most posts here that no teenager let alone some people in their twenties are capable of processing the emotion of a relationship with sex at an early age. How do I know... well I'm 36 and I think I know a thing or two....

Why is it that we grew up okay without sites like this and for some reason our kids can't. The fact that they bring up anal and oral sex as not actually having sex is silly and gives no legitimacy to this site whatsoever.

So the slippery slope of the 60's and 70's -- Myron Magnet's The Dream and the Nightmare -- really was the first step towards the end of Western Civ.

Like a broken clock, Bubba gets it right for once

I can't for the life of me figure out PP's agenda, and how they benefit from encouraging teens to be promiscuous. They linked to a study about condoms "preventing" the spread of an STD by about 60% without mentioning 1) what the condoms are for and 2) that abstinence is 100% effective.

I knew a lot about sex by the time I was 13, but the most important things I learned are that sex is for adults and that you shouldn't have sex unless you're prepared for the consequences.

I think the fact that PP is so scared of abstinence is very telling, but I'm not sure what it tells.

Michele, I hope there are many more moms out there like you. I have two sons and it's a bear trying to protect their innocence. I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it must be for the mother of girls.

Aaron,

How would kicking your kids out of the house for having sex be beneficial? Are you being serious, or just trying to scare them?

Peer pressure and all... Even if one of your kids at age 14 or 15 would be caught having sex, you'd even kick them out?

Growing up in a religious household and church, I'd often hear this line from other parents (but not my own). "If my daughter got pregnant, I'd kick her out." Or "If my son got a girl pregnant..."

I don't think it ever got to that point, but I shudder to think a parent would actually do something like this. Even more damaging would be for the unborn. With a young parent and no financial backing for prental care...

Aaron, you wouldn't really kick your son out on in his ear for having sex. I couldn't really hear you that well over all the Bible thumping, but I think you said something to that effect. If I recall, one of religion's greatest lessons is forgiveness. Adam and Eve may have gotten the boot, but in the end, God forgave humanity and allowed them the opportunity to come back to the fold.

Good thoughtful article. I have had similar thoughts as I see 13 year olds with "Juicy" written across their butts. We mustn't blame Planned Parenthood, though. It's not as if they are leading this change. I believe they are following it and trying to at least attach some responsibility to it. We can debate whether that's right or wrong and if in fact they are actually assisting the trend, but I think their motivations are in the right place.

"I know a nice convent that's looking for a few good nuns."

That's one that's worth a little more thinking about. You, and most worried parents who feel the way you do, are in the unenviable position of not being able to tell your children what celibacy is good for. Or, for that matter, what sex is good for.

If the dialog comes down solely to being "safe" (physically or emotionally), it merely becomes part of the endless wrangle over risky behavior that Mom Nature has built into our species over time immemorial:

"You're not old enough! That's not safe!"

"I am too old enough! And I don't care!"

It is as true as ever that what influences children most, in the end, is the personal example we set.

You say you know what your daughter thinks about it. Does she REALLY know what you think about it? And is it the same thing as what you have told her?

Have you been candid your personal experiences with the pluses and minuses of your erotic choices? Have you shown your daughter the scars on your heart from your bad choices? Or been open about the joys of your good choices?

Since abstinence is fighting against Nature, it is damned hard work no matter what signals the culture gives. Unless you offer persuasive reasons for doing such hard work, backed by personal example, you are swimming against the tide.

A Nunnery is more than a home for wayward girls. Given your personal views, I wonder what you would think if your daughter decided to take you up on the offer.

My god, Joseph. Could you please get your tongue-in-cheek detector fixed?

Michele: thanks for your wonderful post. I'm a single father raising a 13-year old daughter pretty much by myself and know exactly what you're going thru. I thank God every night that, at least SO FAR, she has shown much more maturity than can be expected from a 13-YO. I agree with you 100%.

A very important point you make is the parents allowing their children to dress like they do. If the parent cannot say "no" to their child and mean it, how in the world does the parent think the daughter is going to learn to say "no" and mean it? It is the parents' main job to teach their children what is important and allowing them to dress like street-walkers is evidence of a job not done.

I know that it was tongue in cheek. That's my point. You don't take celibacy seriously as an option, either, so why should she?

Now I'll amplify on that personally. I am a Buddhist, and we have a very small but still very vital community in the West of monks and nuns.

I'm not part of it, but I take the choice seriously because it is a real one. And, in America, unlike Asia, Buddhist celibacy has more appeal to women than to men.

The question still remains: what do you really want for your daughter's erotic life? And can you be open to her about the example your life gives?

She knows what you don't want her to do. We all have known that about our parents. Does she know what you do want her to do?

You ask who buys those clothes for girls. Quite often, it's the girls themselves. Quite a few kids have the money to buy their own clothes without their parents' knowledge or permission. They've been known to change clothes when they go out.

I had a similar experience with my then teenaged younger stepson some years ago. He wanted to go out wearing shorts one cold winter evening. I made him change into long pants. The next morning, I found the long pants laying by the sidewalk. He'd gotten outside and stripped to his shorts, then forgotten to pick up the evidence. BUSTED!

I never raised girls but this year both of my stepsons became parents. The younger stepson one has a son and the older one has a daughter. Yes, my wife and I worry about the grandkids. I can only hope that the "Daddy's Little Hooker" fashion goes out of style before they reach your daughter's age.

In the end, we have virtually no control over what our kids do when they leave home. Perhaps the best we can do is try to give them the best information possible and hope to instill in them good values so they can make informed decisions.

Joseph:

what do you really want for your daughter's erotic life.

She's 14. I do not want her to have an erotic life. And when she becomes an adult, it's none of my damn business how erotic her life is.

You don't take celibacy seriously as an option, either, so why should she?

Because I made a tongue-in-cheek comment to a group of adults reading this site, that means I don't take my daughter's celibacy seriously? I can't even argue with you, Joseph. You're baiting, I'm done biting.

Larry,

Unfortunately, I know a lot of mothers who buy these clothes for their kids. Half the kids I see dressed like that are with their parents.

Every day, I wake up and thank God that I don't have a daughter. I would be insane.

I am not baiting. It is still the case that the example you set will mean more for her and to her than anything you say.

michele is right, I've seen several instances where the mom and daughter are dressed similarly.

Want to know what you can do? Talk to your kids. Be honest with them. My wife has talked to two of my daughters about sex, what boys want, etc. Both of them are smart, well balanced kids who know what type of trouble they can get in. My soon to be 13 year odl daughter has a "boyfriend" who has my seal of approval after he and I had a brief chat about being a gentleman and not wanting to pay child support when he was 14.

Example of a permissive parent. My daughter used to hang around with a girl "Elaine". "Elaine's" parents let her daughter run around the neighborhood until curfew, let her go anywhere with her friends, didn't ask any question, etc, etc, etc. Now, at 11 she's well on her way to being pregnant at 12.

My daughters know about boys, about sex, about the pain that can come from a relationship gone too far, etc. I'm sure that one will do something one of these days that I will regret, but I've prepared them the best that I can. We keep the lines of communication open constantly...

It's just another victory in feminism and Dr. Spock and wanting to be liked by their kids. Because certain generations refuse to be like their parents and we're still paying the price.

No consequences for anything.

I was at The Arch this weekend. There really are some people of a certain age who should not be wearing short/tight anything. EYYYYYEWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

MG2 -- will be haranguing store clerks everywhere with the question: "Why do you expect my daughter to dress like a whore? Do you dress your daughter like a whore, because that seems to be the only kind of clothes you sell."--

It's not the clerks, it's the buyers and the CEOs.

Nordy's has already taken care of this, an 11 y.o. wrote a letter saying she'd love to shop there but their clothes were unacceptable. Her letter worked its way up to the CEO, he sent her a letter and they began designing clothes more conservative.

I think Sears could make money if they took that tack and advertised it.

I made a rule a long time ago when it came to clothes shopping for my daughter...we both have to agree on it before I pay for it. This gives Anna the right to veto as well as me, and I can honestly say we've never had a disagreement over what she wears.

She's 14 now, and has developed a natural modesty on her own. She was thrilled recently to see that the shorts on display at Target weren't as skimpy as last season's, and she walks past the belly shirts without pausing. Her favorite t-shirt is black with a graphic of Link's weapons on it - the caption reads "Don't make me go Zelda on you". She rarely wears makeup - she asked if she could buy some earlier this year, and I agreed, knowing that the novelty would soon wear off - and I was pleased to note that after she came out of the bathroom after carefully applying it, I was hard pressed to tell if she was wearing any makeup at all.

Right now, I'm toying with the idea of sitting down with her and watching the movie "Thirteen". She's asked to see it and I've told her no - there are a couple of R-rated movies that I have allowed her to see, but this one scares me, to be honest. The evolution of what the young girl in the movie experiences is something that I want Anna to see as a possibility...something that could happen if she abandons her values in favor of seeking approval from peers.

The most important gift we can give our kids is a sense of self-worth. If the message they hear from the moment they are born is that they are valued for who they are, and that they have gifts and talents which we appreciate and support, I truly believe that our children will be less likely to look for approval outside our sphere of influence. Anna is a beautiful girl - the kind that turns heads, and she has always attracted attention for her looks, ever since she was a baby. People would cross the grocery store to tell me how pretty she was, and I can't count the times we've been told (in her presence) that she should be in beauty pageants or go into modeling. I always made a point to tell her how beautiful she is on the inside....and to emphasize her other strengths - her intelligence, her athletic ability, her kindness, her ability to make friends wherever she goes. And I think that's helped to keep her grounded in reality, and not have her sense of self-worth be centered around what she looks like - but rather who she is.

So far it's working, but I know there's still the dating / boyfriend world to manuver through. Hopefully, she will be equipped with everything she needs to make it through safely.

You and I have a lot in common, Michele - just know you're not alone in believing that abstinence is a worthy goal, and that your desire to instill strong moral values in Nat is highly commendable, indeed.

I guess the way I see it, with Bush trying to take over school sex ed with ridiculous abstinence only programs, pages like this are needed.

OR,

instead of pushing morals/mores we take a page out of the smoking/food activists' book and start hammering how much STDs are costing society and in the grand collectivist society the people who are pushing free for all/no consequences want (which is trying to be implemented in Britain see Samizdata), they as good stewards of our nation should quit costing us so much money. It's for the poor, national health care and social security, don't you know.

And when it gets rationed.....

Okay, lets take the gloves off hear. I'm not married, have no kids and I come from an honest guy's perspective. Straight up, if we can get it we're going to be the pigs we are to get it. If the girls are going to dress like they do many will take advantage of their insecurity and not only call them whores, but will think them whores, never respect them and certainly never want to marry them. The power to change this downward spiral is in the hands of the girls. As well, guys have the power to control things by not letting their weenies control their every choice, but is much harder to do than to make the decision on whether to wear the shirt that covers their belly buttons or the one that just shows the bottom of their breast. Look, for the girls who dress like that we think nothing of them except a nice little whore.

And for those of you with kids who would like to give them an answer to the peer pressure from someone who has already given it up:

"Yeah, that's nice, except I can always become like you, but you could never become like me. When I decide to become a whore like you maybe I'll take that route."

It shuts people up pretty quickly. Course, you might start a cat fight, but who doesn't like a good cat fight?

As well, it is important to make a distinction when teaching your kids about sex before marriage and sex after marriage. I happen to think that in a "healthy" relationship the girl controls the sexual relationship (by saying "NO") prior to marriage and the guy controls it after marriage. I don't mean to say he is demanding it, just that if he is worthy of getting it after marriage he'll not need to get all huffy and puffy, but that he'll be "skilled" enough, by choice, that he'll know his spouse well enough to know what he needs to do without a fight... yeah, i know, there are going to be those who say they like the fight, etc., but you all know what I'm talking about.

For example... I have a buddy who got married. They didn't make whoopie beforehand and then when they did after a year or so he started cheating. Of course, this led to divorce and he tried to blame her for not wanting to copulate, blah, blah, blah. I had to confront him with the fact that it probably had quite a bit to do with his, eh hem, skills.

Am I right, girls?

Wow Michele. Good post.

It sickens me everyday. I have three grown (youngest 22) daughters. We made it through unscathed. But not without a few frank talks about choices. A few went like this: Sex for a teenage boy lasts all of about 60 seconds. That's from start to finish. Do you want your life to be changed for a 60 second bit with a guy who doesn't know the color of your eyes? That was then, this is now: 22 year old explains it for all of us. The anal sex thing isn't for gay guys only. It's the best way to protect your virginity and keep from getting pregnant. Ugh! So we've allowed the Hilton sisters to set the standard for all of the teens out there. If they're making videos why shouldn't we? And if that wasn't enough, Abercrombie has helped teens understand that sex in groups is okay too! 22 year old reports that the group thing is big for teens now.

I pray for you all. And for my new grandaughter who is just a week old today.

Don't run from your responsibility as a parent. Michele - you're asking the right questions. Keep up the good work.

She's 14. I do not want her to have an erotic life.

That's ridiculous. And unhealthy. Everyone has an erotic life, even prepubescent children. Ask a child psychologist.

I can pretty much guarantee you that your daughter masturbates (the overwhelming majority of people do by that age). What do you think she's imagining while she's doing that? Maybe boys, maybe girlsó but she's thinking about people while she's doing it. Obviously her erotic life is going to make you uncomfortable. That's fine. But pretending it doesn't exist isn't going to be good for either of you.

Sometimes I wonder if parenting causes brain damage. I really do.

Straight up, if we can get it we're going to be the pigs we are to get it.

Of course this guy's not a parent and he's clearly brain damaged.

Joel, that's such a cop-out. Boys have just as much ability to say no as girls. Boys are just as responsible for a sexual relationship (and the consequences) as girls. Putting the responsibility on the girls is bullshit.

I was one of those girls who chose to wait. Not until marriage, but until I felt ready. I was 16. Too young, but I was informed, I knew what I was doing, and I was protected, courtesy of PP. My mother was smart enough to teach me about her mistakes and I was mature enough to learn from them. I think it's unrealistic to teach our kids to wait until marriage (by the way, I have two, a boy and a girl) and expect that they will. It's a fine line we walk, wanting our children to come to us about sex, but not wanting them to actually do it. They key, I think, is to teach them early on about sex, but to also teach them abstinence.

My mother did an excellent job of teaching us about sex. All of my friends were having sex at 12 and 13 and I chose to wait. I never got pregnant (until I wanted to, after marriage) or an STD because I was educated. I use the same method with my children and plan to continue.

Joel, you got a skewed worldview, but I like what your going at. I belive it was the Dr. Dre who surmised that 'If you act like a ho, then you'll get slapped like a ho.'* Or something in that vein. Women who command respect based on the quality of character and integerity will most certainly get it. Conversely, men who don't aknowledge this aspect of the relationship will surely be left in the lurch, as your buddy may have found out.

*See also: "Bitches", by Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter; in which the artist delineates the differences between two kinds of women, 'sisters' and 'bitches'.

All of my friends were having sex at 12 and 13 and I chose to wait.

Jeebus Crow. I graduated from high school less than 10 years ago, so this isn't a back-in-my-day viewpoint.

But, among my little group of friends, nobody lost virginity that young. We talked about it a lot, but the soonest among us was 16 - most of us waited until college. (Not always by choice, though, heh.)

Granted, we weren't the cool kids. But we weren't total losers (hahaha, I waited until college for that, too!) We were the middle of the road kids.

Either I grew up in an ABSURDLY sheltered town, or my parents and friends' parents were just lucky...

Slightly OT, a far worse "threat" among my peer group was pot. Even some of those very same kids who abstained from sex until college were getting stoned when they were 13.

Cop-out? Here I am, being completely honest on how guys really look at girls, warning you to make sure your girls know how guys really work (by sight and not talking), and then I tell you I think it was my buddy's fault for his lack of sexual skills and this is a cop out? That's rich, Annie.

Let me be totally upfront on my belief - IT IS EASIER FOR A GIRL TO SAY NO THAN A GUY! If you think differently you're just fooling yourself, again, and unwilling to accept reality. Its not a cop out when someone is admitting a shortcoming - IT IS A WARNING!!! WARNING!!! Guys are just as responsible for their actions, but to say its JUST AS easy for guys to say "NO" is laughable and extremely naive.

Joel, what the hell are you talking about? How is it harder for a guy to say no than a girl? Are you saying you've never declined a sexual overture before?

Is your evidence for this statement the fact that you've been turned down more times than you've turned down?

I linked over from Ace of Spades and his posting of yours has some other stuff in it that I do not see here. Could be just formating but it is truth.

I always find it fun to listen to comments from people without children. People with children see the world differently regardless of their own behavior as teens. People with DAUGHTERS are even more paranoid. I have four.

I was an only child and raised to have a great deal of self respect and I still feel i was stupid in my teens. But something is different now, society seems to celebrate this stupidity. Mainstream media champions it even.

You want to tell kids the truth about sex...tell them the entire truth. Not just that is it OK if you are resonsible. Truth is, teens are not responsible.

As to the person who said above:
"Sometimes I wonder if parenting causes brain damage. I really do."

It isn't brain damage. It is concern and a desire to not have our children make a choice that could impact the rest of their lives.

It is making our daughters understand that even though he says he loves you, he doesn't.

Not enough to raise a baby with you.

Not enough to give up all his friend, freedom or his freakin' xbox.

It is about you daughter needing to know that when she gets knocked-up she is going to be more alone than she ever thought possible because this boy she loves is going to start crying and acting like the child he is. Blaming her and telling her it is her problem.

It isn't so much boys are evil or bad, they are not. They are just not Men.

Joel, you do your gender a great disservice by making them all out to be incapable of self-control. All the men I know can and do say no when it's appropriate.

"I agree with the concept of sex education - the "how it works" variety. Better to show someone what a bomb looks like before they pick one up and set it off."

I have to say I found this analogy rather amusing. I also agree with it completely.

I am so glad I don't have children. In this world where we dress up our children to look like little ho's, you parents have some tough decisions to make. I'm also surprised by the handful of responses saying sites like this are okay. Teaching teenagers how to give blow jobs is okay? Teach children about anal sex is a good thing? And teaching children to respect their bodies is bad? I graduated in '88, and crap like this for children was unthinkable, even for a rebel, long-haired stoner like I used to be.

Someone indicated that the US was simply catching up with Europe. Whatever. If pages like this are the future of morality, I'm happy to be a barbarian.

OK, I'll throw this out without meaning it to be chum in the water.

- Yes, we are all creatures of free will and both sexes share equal responsibility.
- That being said, there are certain genetic tendencies (low physical investment in pregnancy for boys) and unfair cultural differences (boy sleeping around=stud, girl sleeping around=hussy) that changes up the dynamic a bit. Of course, that speaks to groups in general, and proves nothing with respect to a particular girl or boy. I'm not sure if that's the point that joel is making, I'm just guessing.
- On the general subject, I think the issue of self-respect/self-esteem brought up by others here is important for boys and girls. You can be informative without encouraging bad behavior. I also think there's a balance between being the "cool" parent (hey, have your girlfriend sleep over so I'll know you're OK!) and the "strict" parent (no slow dancing at the prom!). Both extremes lead to bad consequences, I think.

Being a prudish parent is EXACTLY the way I would feel most comfortable.

Clearly you are doing the most important thing, being a safe sounding board for your daughter while also making it clear what you find unacceptable in sexual behavior.

We can't change the attitudes of society or what other people allow for their children, but as an individual parent it is up to us to decide what is right for OUR children.

Oh, and you are kind of prudish, but only in the appropriate way.

I have to say I'm not shocked or appalled or disturbed or even surprised by the site. I'm almost glad it's there. If those questions are asked, I think they should be answered.

PP isn't advocating teen sex via this website, either. Teens do all the advocacy of sex needed for PP to stay in business forever.

And if I heard that my daughter (age 13) had viewed that site, I'd say that's good. There are too many sources of bad information out there, so I think this site, which provides truthful--albeit explicit--information on sexual practices, is better than the kinds of crap I (inadvertently, I swear!) hear as she talks to her friends. Sex is too important for misinformation to get a grip into stupid teenage minds.

Of course, I'd also say to my daughter, "You didn't have permission to use the Internet!" She doesn't have a cell phone, a television, her own telephone, or a computer screen name. She doesn't need those, and it makes things so much easier.

And I think girls dress "that" way to outdo other girls. The opinions of boys are almost completely irrelevant to teenage girls, but the opinions of the other girls can lead to nervous breakdowns.

Joel,I have said 'NO" many many times(girl shows up at 11 pm,jumps into my bed,sez she want to have my baby.Bye Bye get out!,etc,,) so I don't buy into the 'guys will take it every time' nonsense.

And I think girls dress "that" way to outdo other girls. The opinions of boys are almost completely irrelevant to teenage girls, but the opinions of the other girls can lead to nervous breakdowns.

The opinions of boys are pretty much all teenage girls obsess over. The dressing thing has more to do with not wanting to be different than anyone else - kids that age want to fit in and be part of the group more than anything else. If their friends dress provocatively, then that's what your kid will want.

Holy smokes, people... where in my posts have I said guys are incapable of saying "NO"? Someone please point this out. Granted, I have generalized quite a bit, but if you want to get into the whole "except those with a strong ethical and moral living standard" you're preaching to the choir. Of course guys are capable of saying it... I say it on a regular basis with my girlfriend - for kisses even(because I know how easy it is for me get going). But for someone to say it is JUST AS EASY for guys to say "NO" is naive. Its just like the whole "gender equality" charade. And as far as a disservice to my gender? Again, laughable when we are talking about someone who thinks waiting means until she is sooooo mature at 16. Give me a break! That's a disservice to ones' gender.

:::Whew::: Great post and passionate comments!

Michele, you're doing great by Nat; just lay in a supply of hair color and Guiness and try not to faint as you navigate the shoals ahead. ;-)

When I was in high school 68-72 (yes, old fart here) I remember only a couple of girls getting pregnant. My youngest of four daughters starts her senior year in high school 8/30 and if the day of picking up her schedule in a couple of weeks is anything like its been for her sisters the past 10 years, there are going to be a lot of waddling pregger girls and girls with newborns also picking up their schedules. One thing a frank sexual upbringing with some strict expectations does is making teens think twice before engaging and/or being a hell of a lot more careful about how they engage. And arming your daughter(s) against peer, or dating partner, pressure is another thing you can do. Just tell your daughter you are willing to be the "bad guy".. that if she finds herself in an uncomfortable position, she can supplement her "no" with "my parents will KILL me, if I ...."

I've heard Dr. Meg Meeker interviewed several times and what she has to share will scare the beejebus outta any parents of teens. Teens just are not physically or psychologically equipped to handle the sexual relationships the society is trying to foist on them. My 22 y/o daughter has hosted a couple parties here (which my hubby and I wander through pretty constantly just to make our presence known)... Most of it reminds me of parties from my era...except for the lapdancing. I don't ever remember that going on!

And, please, can we stop with the sophistry that it is ok for teens to engage in sexual activity because "it's natural"? There are a lot of "natural" urges we all experience, but as thinking, (hopefully) rational human beings it is our responsibility to evaluate whether indulging in said urge is in our best long-term interest. Teens are physiologically changing, in body and brain structure, and their impulse control is much much less then it will be when they hit their mid-twenties, it is up to parents (and to a lesser degree, socity) to step in and take those decisions away from them if it looks like they are going to harm themselves.

Aaron,

I don't believe we are "slouching" toward pedophilia, because pedophilia is very specific in that it deals with sexual orientation towards PRE-pubescent children. However, I'd say this society has become much more lax in its attitudes towards ephebophilia (sexually attracted to teens).

Great post. It reflects the frightening reality that I, the father of a seven year old daughter, face as well.

Re: "does size matter". I originally assumed it meant the fetus. What's the difference if it's one week old and the size of a dime or seven months old and weighing 5lbs? I am left with the impression that, to Planned Parenthood, it's still a clump of cells.

I agree completely. I have no daughters, only 3 sons, and the oldest will be 16 in a month. So far, so good. If I had a daughter she would NOT be allowed to dress like the prosti-tots that we all see wandering around in suburbia -- what message could that possibly send out to the world except "I'm available and I'm not expensive"?

Here's an idea, girls: if you do NOT want the world to think of your body as an amusement park ride, dress like you are NOT an amusement park ride.

Full agreement on abstinence too; for the life of me I'll never understand the yahoos who say to parents "why bother preaching abstinence, they're going to do what they want anyway". Well, sure, if you let them walk all over you. How about NOT letting them walk all over you?

I see I had a lot of NOTs in there, sorry if it reads too screechy. Just tryin' to emphasize some words ...

Geeze, Jeff, can't you see that your "amusement park ride" comment is insensitive and that it is a COP OUT?! Sorry for the sarcasm, folks, but I couldn't agree more with Jeff on that one. So he was able to say it in a few less words than I... big deal. He's got kids and probably knows the value of silence.

The Left:
Just because most people on "the left" are preoccupied with sex doesn't mean everyone is and I am a "brain damaged" parent and also a 24 year old man, who didn't have sex until he was married, and I sure wasn't masturabting at 14! I was still playing basketball, Nintendo and hanging out with my friends.
I wasn't sheltered, i was just taught to respect myself and respect women. It kills me to see these little girls walking around with words written across their "butt" (or what little is there). The only reason you write in big bold letters across your butt is to draw attention to that area.
Thankfully, I have been reading stories of teenagers who are "rebelling" against the pop culture trends that look like they came from Sluts-R-Us. They are asking for more modest clothes, wanting to save themselves for marriage and if not marriage at least until they are older and better prepared.
Michelle, you do what you have to do to raise your daughter to respect herself and to respect others. If you can accomplish that, then congratulations, you have done a great thing!

I figured I'd better comment, because having 69 comments to a post like this just seemed wrong somehow.

Bottom line, it's all about self esteem. If your child respects their parents and themselves then they won't need sex to make them feel popular.
I live in an upper middle class suburb and it is no secret to the parents, that there are girls that will give blow jobs (intercourse is not considered o.k.) on the buses to and from the bar/bat mitzvahs. I am not kidding. Obviously, these are young girls with very skewed opinions of their self worth being raised by parents that are not paying the kind of attention to their children that they should. My sons are 25 and 30 and this stuff has been going on since they were in junior high.

However, as we all know, when your teenage daughter/son meets that "special" someone and their mutual hormones are raging, there is little a parent can do to prevent them from having sex. As parents it is imperative to educate your kids about STD, promiscuity and unwanted pregnancy. Give them the confidence to say no to their peers as well.

Wow. All I hear from the people who disagree with Michele is, "Kids are going to have sex, there's nothing they can do about it, there's nothing you can do about it, get used to it."

So you're telling me that's what you honestly believe, that's what you are telling/would tell your kids, and that you neither think it realistic nor are willing to teach your kids that abstinence is possible, and maybe even desireable? If the abstinence option isn't at least given an audience, how informed a choice is it reallly?

And who is forcing their morals upon whom at that point?

You're a Mom, and a good one. Stand and protect your kids, like you're doing. Be tough. That's love.

I think realistically that you do have to consider your child may have sex, whether you want him/her to have it or not. I am not so old that I can't remember the intensity of young love. I do not advocate promiscuity but there is a possibility your teenager may have sex before you want them to. Isn't it better to educate kids than assume that because you told them not to have sex, they won't? Forbidding rarely works and when you say abstinence, do you mean until they get married? My son is 30 and not married. If he is a virgin, then I would be rather concerned.

"Joel, you do your gender a great disservice by making them all out to be incapable of self-control. All the men I know can and do say no when it's appropriate." - Anne

I think Joel's getting an excessively hard time here, and I'd say a lot of it's due to misinterpretation and context of this discussion.

"All the men I know can and do say no when it's appropriate."

All of the men I know can say "no" when appropriate also.

The key word here is "Men".

Teenage boys aren't men. Not yet. They may affirm that they are, hotly, and vocally, but they haven't quite made it yet. A teenage boy between 13 and 18 is a walking pile of hormones geared towards thinking about sex 34 hours a day, and devoting a majority of their active attention to getting laid.

I was one once, I know. ;) At around the age of 28 that focus became a bit less all consuming. grin

It is not a vicious slander to teenage males to make sure that your daughter or goddaughter understands that "No! Sit! Good boy!" is a part of her dating responsibility - if it's at all possible, a majority of teenage boys will try their level best to convert that "No! Down boy!" into a "Yes baby!". ;]

18-22 year old males hanging out with your fourteen year old are why God invented fathers, older brothers and baseball bats - you know he's just looking for nookie. ;]

Give Joel a break - he's not being innaccurate, he's just painting with a bit too broad a brush.

Okay, I gotta chip in here. I'm a single adult male with no kids, but I am a pretty good observer :-)

It always fascinates me when I hear people go off on a screaming terror when their kids 'suddenly' hit puberty, with all that entails (a touch of rebelliousness, sexuality, sensuality, et al). People, your kids are going to respond to all those hormones EXACTLY the way you've taught them to. That is, if you haven't kept up a dialog with them from birth to puberty, then they're not likely to listen to you now. If you HAVE been open and honest with them, and they've learned to TRUST you, then you'll still be able to have on-going communication with them. If you haven't talked to them about sex, then they're going to be REAL curious about everything they've heard from everyone BUT you (you never said anything before, so why listen to you now?), and want to find out. If you've talked and explained, then it's not so overwhelming for them. If you've taught them to be thoughtful (that is, thinking about things before doing), patient, respectful (of themselves and others), and all that, then they'll make it just fine. If you haven't, they won't.

I've watched as several friends raised THEIR kids, and seen the results. Basically, if you've raised them in a way that there's mutual trust and respect, you can help guide them - but there's no way in the world you're going to stop them when they figure "it's time". But that 'time' will be later, and more considered; not a 'what the hell, let's do it'.

Ironbear,

The funny thing is that I'm not even the type of guy I'm warning these naive individuals about - I have a solid base of morals and ethics. But I do know, that if I had bought into the Darwinian model that is taught in public education and coupled that with the "well, we know you're going to do it so here is the 'protectiont'" education I would have been one dangerous teenager - young 20 somethin'. I'm just trying to give these people a dose of reality that there are PLENTY of those guys out there (if not the vast majority), not paint with a broad brush.

I've never been married and have no kids (though I did mentor two boys with severe behavioral problems for many years), so you can take this for what it's worth. My viewpoint is that people who fall on either extreme - very strict or very permissive - are focused more on their own comfort than on doing the best possible job raising their child. My feeling is that kids in general appreciate discipline, though you'll never hear them say it. I completely agree that parents who are incapable of telling their 12 year old child she will not be dressing like Pamela Anderson are pathetically misguided. The problem is that like anything else, discipline can be taken too far. If you do that, if you push too hard for your idea of perfection, the kid just stops listening and you've lost him/her.

If kids can see that they're loved and that there's thought and reason behind your actions, and that you're consistent, you'll do OK. It doesn't mean they'll never make a mistake or never get hurt - that's a fact of life from which you cannot shield them, no matter how desperately you wish you could. It does, however, tilt the odds greatly in their favor for avoiding the worst kinds of self-abasing, self-destructive behavior. I'm not sure one can hope for a great deal more - some lessons in life invariably do have to be learned the hard way.

I hope you guys show your children this article I read about awhile ago: Oral sex linked to mouth cancer. HPV can cause oral and throat cancer when contracted orally just as it can cause cervical cancer when contracted vaginally.

Also, perhaps people should start lobbying to get laws passed permitting the cops to issue tickets to people walking around with their breasts, butt, etc hanging out? Children dressed like the village prostitute and their parents should get tickets, etc.

For your question, "Where do these girls get the message that they must dress this way in order to impress? Who told them that wearing suggestive messages on their shirts and folding down their sweats so their ass cracks show is a proper way to carry yourself? I would ask, where does a woman get any power - as a woman - nowadays? If women are completely equal to men, if there is no difference, if child rearing is not reveared, if the sensitive, caring nature is downplayed or disavowed, etc, then it makes perfect sense that in order to regain power one must show the flesh.

I'm not saying thats a good thing. Just pointing out what seems obvious.

The question is: Why should 14 year old girls want to feel power as a woman?

Also, I refuse to buy into the theory that the only way for women to feel a sense of empowerment is to show some skin.

Yanno, I think it's a pretty damn good idea to erase the fictional wall between "adult" and "adolecent".

Some people are grownups, some are not and age seems to have surprisingly little to do with it. I was used to makeing adult choices at a very young age simply because I could not trust my parents to backstop me.

It was like being babysat by withered pre-teens in some ways. That's where my conservaive tendancies come from.

If they are old enough to breed, drive, shoot a gun, defend their country or be tried in adult court due to public outcry, they are in the realm of adult consequences. Therefore, common sense is to treat them as (bone ignorant) adults - and prepare them for adulthood by giving them increasing grownup responsiblities.

Of course it would help one hell of a lot if our idea of "grownup" wasn't confused with "tightass." I suppose that could be a lewd pun but that wasn't my intent. I mean it in the socially conservative sense.

Look folks, when you become a "conservative" to impose values on your children that you yourself did not believe in until YOUR hindbrain kicked into "parent" mode, those aren't conservative values, those are unthinking spinal reflexes you are trying to justify.

Trust me - I hung out with freeks, geeks, stoners and a few whores in HS. (Alas, never scored with them. Or hurray, not quite sure which, actually) The more repressive a household a girl came from, the more cleavage there was.

I made a few parenting mistakes in my time, but I refused to replicate the ones I knew about ahead of time. Lousy examples work too. :)

So when it came time for my stepdaugter's "transition into the mysteries of womanhood," I suggested a party - knowing full well of course that our potential nun would freak. But that wasn't the point. Nor were the outraged shrieks or the burning ears. It was simply acknowedginig it as OK - and then later we had "The Talk."

And it went like this. "Now you have a bomb in your tummy. When and if it goes off, it will change your entire life. Sex makes it go off - and I elucidated. I knew I had to, as I'd seen the "abstinance education" program that seemed to have been designed to make children fear sex for the rest of their natural lives, rejecting ownership of and responsiblity for their own bodies.

My first self-admission was: This is not "my daughter." This is another human being, whom I am in no position to protect 24/7. Now, have no doubt, thoughts of towers and chastity belts did cross my mind. I am human, and a particularly protective male. But I try to think with the FRONT part of my brain as much as possible and after years of practice, I often succeeed.

Teaching someone how to make GOOD choices means that you can't dictate those choices. One or two mistakes is generally required for the advice to be appreciated and the techniques to set in.

The more USUAL approach is to create reflexive phobias and mindless obediance. While that may pay off in the short time, it creates pretty useless human beings in the long run. Consider John Ashcroft.

Besides, in the grand scheme of things, hormones will win over reason. You can't stand in the way, but with some luck and skill, you can at least influence the direction of the charging rhino of lust.

Being candid with children is actually more about them feeling safe being candid with you. Start that young, and won't be an issue when they are teens. Wait until they are teens - weeeel.. tell me - how well did that approach work on you?

Now, considering all the lovely lessons that come from dressing like microwhores under fairly well protected circumstances, I'm all for it. It's what my special educator wife refers to as a "teaching opportunity."

Or as she'd put it, "you can't show them how to do it right until they notice that something wen' wrong." At that point, you want to be in her position - the designated provider of useful solutions, not the bringer of arbitray consequences.

The universe provides those for free, after all, and She has a wickedly apt sense of humor.

Bob King is dead on target.

Puberty happens, anywhere from 11-18 (and there are outliers in both directions). When it happens, sexual urges happen. Children need to be taught how to deal with those urges for their own safety.

You know, in most of the world--First as well as Third--the age of sexual consent is 16. In the US, it's generally 18. But in a way it's sort of irrelevant, because kids younger than that are having sex, whether "real sex" a la Prez Clinton, or oral/anal sex.

You only need to read the city pages of a major newspaper to see that 12-y/os are engaged in sexual activity that their parents most certainly don't sponsor and certainly don't approve of. Did those kids get a celibacy lecture? Was that lecture overridden by peer pressure or simply emotional pressure?

Does it really matter?

While I'm no fan of PP for their stance on abortion, I think that having the information from the page in question available is vitally important. It does provide a source for essentially good information that kids do wonder about.

Most parents here are not going to have their kids come up to them and ask "Mom, what's rimming?" Not only would a parent be mortified, but the kid would be as well. Nor are they going to ask their pastor or uncle or aunt. Unless there is a valid source of information available to them, they're left with invalid sources--their peers.

I can't begin to recount the bum advice about sex I got from my peers as a teenager. It was all so contradictory and driven by so many agendas (like "MY parents wouldn't have SEX!), that all it did was lead to confusion. And there weren't many (read any) disinterested sources of information available.

I was in a place and time where I could actually cut to the chase and go have sex at 15. That answered an awful lot of questions that I wasn't about to bring up with any parental-type authority. I'm not sure that had I had access to a PP page at the time my decision to just go ahead would have changed, but it might have.

Michele, thanks. I understand where you are coming from, having two daughters that are 14 and 18.

They are inundated with messages that tell them it's natural, it's right, it's ok, and you're a loser if you don't. Lies. Even worse, the terrible longing to be loved, accepted..

Modesty is ridiculed. How sad is that?

We've tried to help our girls understand that young boys are struggling too, but the key to real love is whether they consider what is better for you over what they want. I've told them both they can expect a boy to say "if you love me, you'd do this for me". And to listen to that, and decide who loves who. My hope is that they will answer "if you loved me, you wouldn't ask me to do that".

Hang in there.

I am not shocked at all.
If you think that site crosses the line, google 'child super model'.

It will be the first site on top..
BTW, it IS LEGAL.

And that is what scares me, when parents can sexualy exploit their 7 to 16 year old CHILDREN to pedophiles on the internet for big money legally.

I fear it's only going to get worse, and I'm far from a prude.
I love my kids and have been honest about the facts of life.. and they are 9 and 7. They will be able to talk to me about anything.

But what makes me mad as hell is I feel my rights as a parent are being attacked by the media who could care less about my kids.
I use parental controls on my TV but still had to watch a Jerry Springer uncensored pay-per view Ad on the FOOD network channel.

anywhere from 11-18 (and there are outliers in both directions).

Here's a link to Too Much Information on the subject of Menarch, it's onset, implications, adaptations, customs, cultural implications... gak.

Males beware.

The thing I find intersting is that the onset of puberty does not seem to be abnormally LOW, it seems to be returning from an abnormally late average at around the turn of the century for North America, a shift attributed generally to improved nutrition, though environmental pollution may also play a role - opinions vary.

Oddly or not, if you take a look at cultural and moral history, a great deal of our child-rearing lore dates from that period of time, and certainly presumption of the "proper" onset of sexual behavior does.

Actually, it was pretty common for women to be married prior to puberty with the idea that they'd have a year or so together BEFORE drowning in babies.

Birth, marriage and sexual customs, behavors and taboos have to evolve to fit biological reality. Unfortunately far too much of that has been fosselized into "Familiy Values" and "Traditonal Values" which don't have the baseline to merit the terms. Really, those values were responses to aberrent conditions and were we to go back in time before, say, 1850, you would see mating and marrige habits more in unison with "eroupean." With, of course, adaptations accounting for the lack of central heating and convenient bathing.

The Traditional Human Values are that pregnancies occur within an extended family, where the elders are still old enough to cope, and pregnancy and early child development is sustained by those who still have the hormonal ability to spend a few years without much sleep at all.

Expecting people to conform to expectations that run counter to biology is a very poor social policy bet. Forcing conformity against the tied is unethical. Pretending it won't happen is foolish. Refusing to accomodate to a younger age of pregnancy and a broader, more flexible definition of family is just plain wrong-headed.

Babies should be happy events. Any prune-faced moralist trying to make it seem otherwise ain't getting with the program. The best babies (healthiest, least likely to have genetic defects, etc) come during the first few years of fertility. So either the onset of marriage and independance starts earlier, or we redefine HOW and WHAT marrage is - for instance, the one may join the household of the other; that's one classic solution.

Another might be polynesian pragmatism; used to be that no man would marry a woman who hadn't produced at least one strapping, healthy child out of wedlock. Of course, they thought babies came from swimming in the ocean. But looking at them as a GIFT from God instead of a curse seems like a much nicer response to the unexpected arrival of an infant.

well ranted! And I'm with you. I don't really understand the ad, either. The obvious joke is about penis size, but after looking around teenwire.com, I wonder if this might be something body image more generally?

Bob King: I don't know where you get this idea that teen pregnancy is some great thing. I have heard otherwise: that teens give birth to low-weight babies, and that having a child to raise, especially if one has no helpful realtives or spouse, kind of throws a wrench into one's plans of doing much of anything else for about eighteen years. I have also read that later marriages are both a consequence and a cause of our high-tech, wealthy society. Then again, perhaps you're right -- it was all a mistake, we should all go back to living the happy, simple, breed young/die young lives of our primitive ancestors.

Is that what you meant? Because I really couldn't figure out why you threw in that stuff about some supposed turn-of-the-century "aberration" having supposedly formed our stultifying, wrong, against-nature family values. What sort of values are we supposed to have instead? Being civilized and being "natural" are basically opposed -- I know everyone hates this fact but there is no getting around it. Deal.

I consider out of wedlock teenage births to be a major cause of poverty and crime in the US. From everything I've read, if we could cut the divorce rates and illegitimacy rates in half, the desperate situation of a lot of people in this country would dramatically improve.

I've also come to the conclusion that a child has a natural right to a mother and a father.

I'm not a regular reader here, but your article was passed on to me by a friend.

All I can say is thank you. I cannot tell you how sick I am of it being assumed that kids are all doing stuff like this. And that it's assumed that it's impossible for kids to abstain from sex. If no one even brings up the possibility, of course they're going to think it's not realistic. But it is.

Thank you.

Bob King,

I hope you caught my earlier post about the lunacy of the "natural" argument.

Feh.

Let me leave you with this tidbit to think on... while the majority of fatherless boys will grow up just fine, the majority of men in prison grew up fatherless.

It's obvious that Planned Parenthood is in a business; a business that depends on teens having sex and then doing something about it (birth control pills, morning-after pills, abortion.) If no teen was having sex, and the national statistics prove it, Planned Parenthood would dry up and disappear, an organization without a mission.

i tend to think that the best thing you can do for your daughter is facilitate good relationships with the male role models in her life. despite all my mother's preaching on abstinence i was one of those girls who was always looking for some kind of father figure. hopefully, this is nothing you have to worry about with natalie.

i look back on my years in high school and think of the mini skirts and how i often dressed the way i did because i liked the male attention. the clothing now is so much more provocative and i kinda wish i had the body i did @ 18 so i could wear it. that's just me.

thankfully, my nine year old daughter is turned off by provocative clothing. i worry about her but i think trusting her to make the right decisions and arming her with the age-appropriate knowledge goes a long way. my mom did neither.

What I don't understand is the Left's insistence that sex and sexual expression is the pentultimate example of an individual's self-expression and freedom. The idea that sex--and, with that, looking "sexy" and "celebrating" your sexuality with your dress and behavior--is just natural so we should equip our children with the right "tools" and "information" so that they make the right "choices," is unbelivably short-sighted and unwise.

I had a daughter two years ago. I am not happy about the kind of world she has been born into, but I am glad I have a daughter; for some reason, this makes me even more aware of the social mores and expectations we are currently facing.

The truth is, sex IS natural--meaning, that it is a natural function, practiced in nature by all living creatures. That doesn't mean it should be done whenever it is felt. We teach our children to eat at the right time, and to eat the right things. We teach our children to use the potty. We teach our children when to go to sleep. Eating, sleeping, and relieving oneself of waste (sorry to be disgusting here, but it must be said) are even MORE natural than sex, because one can live without having sex--one will die if one does not sleep, eat, or go to the bathroom.

Why, then, is sex so high up on the totem pole? It is the one thing that will cause disease, heartache, unwanted pregnancy, and lots of other things that make life really crappy. Now, I will be honest with you--I never lied to myself that I was going to wait until marriage to have sex. When I was a teenager, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be a virgin when I got married. HOWEVER: In giving myself some kind of point to lose my virginity (which ultimately was the age of twenty-one), I got to spend my high-school and college years doing really well in school, doing social service in hospitals & nursing homes, and generally finding out what the world was about. It took a load off of me. I will tell my daughter that I did not wait until marriage--but I did not trust myself as a teenager, in college, not in the real world, to deal with real sexual situations.

Why aren't we worried more about educating our children's minds? The life of the mind is much more important than the life of the gonad. And it is the key to all liberty. When will the Left figure that out?

michele,

Excellent post, very thought-provoking. More people need to see this and be aware of what's going on.

Joseph,

Greed and cruelty are also "natural." If you really are a Buddhist, you would know this. As it's been said earlier, nature and civilisation are at opposite poles -- Buddhists (non-caucasian ones, anyway) understand this, and eliminating the craving that causes suffering is a deliberate rebellion against nature. The entire process of getting up in the morning, putting on clothes, and going to school/work goes against nature, yet if we have enough discipline to do this much, we have enough not to be stupid about sex.

I managed to abstain until I was married this past Saturday, and I'm 30. It isn't impossible to do, but if we dismiss it as such, we may as well start handing out poisoned syringes to murderers. After all, if they're going to do it, then they may as well make it less painful for their victims. However, it sounds as if most liberals believe criminals can't help themselves, either...

Think this is too drastic a comparison, that there's a huge gap between murder and sex? I hate to break it to the liberals, but there's this disease called Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome out there, and given that no condom is 100% efficient, it's essentially like playing Russian Roulette.

In the 60s, it was all well and good for notions of "free love" and not knowing who it was you were getting knocked up by. Then along came unprecedented jumps in STD and teen pregnancy numbers. Ooops....guess those social mores existed for a reason! Thanks guys, your sexual revolution is over -- and we all lost. Actions have consequences -- as much as PP wishes it weren't so.

Jacqueline Byrne,

I think you might not believe this, but many conservatives have sex during high school, in college, and well before marriage. The obsession you mention as being a personality trait of "The Left" is a trait common in The Center, The Far Left, The Right, and even the Far Right. There are people who call themselves Christians having pre- and extra-marital sex right this very minute. And not just with Leftists, though I bet some don't know their partner (or partners) well enough to know that.

I didn't say only the Left has sex. I was inferring that the Left continually supports and actually encourages teenage sex. I didn't say all conservatives are virgins. Jeez, jump to nasty and ridiculous conclusions, why don't you. Obviously it hit a nerve, otherwise you wouldn't seem so defensive.

The Left:
Just because most people on "the left" are preoccupied with sex doesn't mean everyone is and I am a "brain damaged" parent and also a 24 year old man, who didn't have sex until he was married, and I sure wasn't masturbating at 14! I was still playing basketball, Nintendo and hanging out with my friends.

Oh for...

Look, it's just an average, okay? I didn't say everyone is preoccupied with sex. I just said that, on average, most people are masturbating by the time they're 14. Most 14 year olds have an "erotic life" (which is a stupid phrase, but captures the essence of the point). I can't link it because I'm at work and I think maybe doing a google search for "adolescent" and "masturbation" to get the address wouldn't go over with my IT department. But look it up yourself. Most kids jerk off. There's nothing wrong with it, and pretty much everyone ends up doing it eventually.

And your suggestion that masturbating is somehow equivalent to not respecting oneself is just bizarre.

To analog mouse:

I have 3 daughters -- 14, 11 & 4 -- and thank God every day for them. While raising them in this society is very challenging, I'll take the challenge any day over not having them. They are by far the best things I've ever known, and the lifetime of joy, heartbreak and memories I have far outweigh any difficulties in raising them. PS: In all of this, hardly anyojne has mentioned raising your children in the faith of the Christion church. I have raised all 3 of mine there, and it has given them a core of values that allows them to make better choices than most of the girls out there who have no core values, because their parents have none. Try Christ, He works. Its not easy, and sometimes it takes time & patience, but He works.

The 60's were an over-reaction that happened for a reason. Sexual repression and abstinence-at-any-cost only "work" as a societal strategy so long as the parents have TOTAL control over the lives of their children and the information they receive. Even if someone thinks the 60's were a horrible time, you still shouldn't be holding up the sexual attitudes of the 50's as any sort of ideal - they're precisely what LED to the 60's.

Even though I do strongly believe in setting rules and boundaries for kids, I also recognize that it's extraordinarily foolish to pretend that you're playing the same game post-puberty as you were before. Hormones are unbelievably powerful, and reason will not always be sufficient to trump them. It's also true that NOTHING involving love and sex is ever black-and-white simple. Even though youthful relationships rarely turn out well in the long run, it can and does happen. There's a reason Romeo and Juliet is such a compelling story - most of us never feel anything so deeply as we feel love at that tender age. It does most often end in a train wreck, but to try to tiptoe through life without having ANY train wrecks is not much of a way to live.

There's a huge difference between telling a kid that you have faith in him/her and hope that they'll wait until they're really emotionally ready, versus saying that all pre-marital sex is bad and they absolutely must abstain. Some kids will obey such a mandate, but the end-result for their adult romantic life may not turn out to be the happy ending the parents thought they'd get. And of course the majority of kids will rebel - either openly or furtively - against such a reflexive, authoritarian approach.

What I was trying to get across earlier is that being a parent of a teenager is GOING to be messy, because life is inherently messy. Any attempt to make it easier for the parents and/or the kids by making it NOT be messy is utterly doomed to failure.

"Even if someone thinks the 60's were a horrible time, you still shouldn't be holding up the sexual attitudes of the 50's as any sort of ideal - they're precisely what LED to the 60's."

Obviously, something was wrong in the 50's. But something was equally wrong in the 60's, reactionary or not. Nobody is saying "Hey, let's go back to the great sexual ideals of the 1950s!"

But we're clearly not learning from our mistakes. At all. We were on the wrong road, and then we took a wrong turn, and now we are completely lost beyond all recognition. We need to recognize that we were wrong to be in denial of sexuality, but we were also wrong to be too freely sexual. Neither was healthy, because neither was realistic. It's NOT realistic to say, Well gee, people are just going to have sex, darn it, and they should just be free to do it whenever and however and with whomever they please!

We need to define our terms. We need, also, to recognize that putting one's sexuality in the proper compartment--not denying it nor indulging it--is not "repressive." Please. "Repression" is a serious psychiatric condition, something that happens in trauma. It is NOT the act of putting something in the drawer where it belongs, and taking it out (pun intended) at the proper time.

I mentioned that I was not fooled into thinking I would be a virgin until marriage. And I was right. Another fact: I did not marry the first guy I slept with, nor the second, or third, or.....

However, when I entered into a sexual relationship, I was not dependent upon anyone; I was an adult, though a very young one. I was also aware of the dangers of sex, and was committed to making choices that would result in less messiness, since no messiness at all is simply not possible once the clothes have been taken off.

The Left wants to make sure the kids have the right "information" and the right "tools" for sex, but there is one thing they will never, ever be able to give them--emotional maturity. That is what is needed most in any kind of relationship, sexual or not. It's sad that most liberals have very little of it, and simply pointing out that fact makes foam at the mouth.

Jacqueline, you pretty much had me with you right up until the very end. ;-)

It's not liberals who are lacking in emotional maturity, it's extremists of ANY stripe. They want their way, they want it now, they're willing to hurt lots of people in order to get it, and they are not willing to try to understand the viewpoints of others, much less compromise for the good of the group as a whole.

I'm sick and tired of ALL the extremists and all their hyper-emotional BS.

I am too, Mike--extremists of any kind. I do apologize for targeting only the liberal extremists, but they are the loudest and the sexiest and, for some reason, nobody ever calls them on their foolishness. Indeed, they are often rewarded for their three-sheets-to-the-wind, to-each-his-own, write-your-own-rulebook attitudes. Easy target. Apologies for not including overzealous religious harpies, undereducated blind bigots and the like. I don't like them either. There is a terribly high level of pride with all extremists, and pride leads to a downfall. Since both extremes are so incredibly proud that they will not admit where they are wrong, we have come to an impasse.

I do, however, think the onus is upon the Left to stop acting like there is such a thing as sex-without-consequences, and if you should get pregnant exercising the "right to have sex," you have the right to throw your baby in the trash. Extremists on the right are, I believe, reacting to the Left.

Just like the 60's was a reaction to the high-buttoned, hard-boiled 1950's, I think the Religious Right is pulling no punches, as a backlash towards the rampant sexual activity--not just the obvious kind, but the kind underneath, in the clothes, in the music, etc.--that the Left sees as "no big deal."

If I sound more sympathetic to the right, it's because I have a daughter. I do not want her to parade her boobs around town when she can't even buy cigarettes or vote. I don't want guys thinking she's "easy" because she's just trying out her "sexuality" for "fun." At the same time, hey, I love me some Janet Jackson, and I also like "Bull Durham." I just don't feel like watching it every single damn day. You know?

JB,

Calling someone emotionally immature is an insult and my guess is if I insulted you, you just might foam at the mouth also.

If I called you intellectually obtuse would you foam at the mouth? Hehehehe...I'm rubber you're glue...

I know quite a few liberals and none of them tell their children to go out and screw whoever walks down the street. I have never told my 15 year old son to go out and screw whoever he wants whenever he wants. We, however, talk to our children openly about sex and I would have no problem with my son going to the PP site to get answers to his questions.

Just because he asks a question doesn't mean he's having sex. If he is having sex I would like him to be informed.

You can define the compartments all you want and most people will jump into them willingly but there will always be those who don't and won't fit into that nice little box you've designed. Then what? As the saying goes...life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react. How would you react to those who don't fit in? What would the punishment be?

On another note... Michele, you are at once appalled at the PP site but then say, "Looking through all the questions and answers on teenwire.com, I see some thoughtful suggestions and advice."

I believe that is offically a flip-flop.

I'm not saying, define compartments and then everybody will stick to them. But you have to have a place. Obviously it would be too easy for you to say that your son is communicating with you and that as long as he's being honest, he can do what he pleases. It's a sense of autonomy that I think the liberals have exaggerated.

Nobody is completely autonomous, ever. Never. Complete control over the self does not exist. It doesn't. And the liberals feel that control is the link to freedom--it's not. It's really an illusion. Liberals get upset with conservatives for "forcing their opinions onto their bodies," the body being the last bastion of complete "control" that the self has. But in that way, we have to understand that the way we control our bodies always ends up being practiced on another body, another self--a boy, for example, wanting to have sex, can use mind games to have sex with a girl, or vice versa, and then you have two bodies--is this consensual? Is it REALLY consensual? And if that situation results in a crisis pregnancy, then the girl is "free" to "control" her body by dismembering and throwing away the body of her child.

What I'm trying to get at is that certainly individuals are bound to cross some lines, and it's always best to be prepared for that, but what is the harm in drawing the lines in the first place? Why are liberals so afraid of guidelines? WHY? Why are you so afraid to say that there is something that you shouldn't do, that is NOT in your best interest, simply because you--as an adult--are wiser? Our children deserve our protection, not our APPROVAL.

Just a note to add: Hillary Clinton once said, years ago, when she was First Lady, "I don't think anybody should be having sex until their 22 years old. And after that, I don't want to hear about it."

She does have a daughter, after all, and a very good one, too.

Ack. Excuse my spelling. I meant "they're" not "their" in the quote above. Silly me.

The left is shouting loudest now because George Bush is in the White House, JB. It was exactly the opposite situation when Bill Clinton was in the White House. Both men have been demonized by the extreme wing of the opposition. In my view, both are partially to blame for the hatred they inspire, but their faults do not fully justify the wild-eyed zealotry of their most extreme detractors.

I do understand why any parent would feel protective of their kids, especially girls, in today's environment. I completely agree that many, perhaps most modern parents are far too permissive. But I also think that unless you plan to hold a kid under house-arrest until they're 18, "just say no" is a really bad strategy. The older a kid gets, the more time they're going to be spending away from you, and the less effective hard-and-fast rules become. Your best hope for responsible behavior when the kid is not in your presence is for them to be capable of enlightened, rational thought. "Mom said I can't have sex" is not likely to be a very effective deterrent when they're parked somewhere and lust is kicking in. However, "mom said to look for this clue and that clue from a guy as signs he might be more interested in my body than in me" could well be a very effective deterrent. And explaining the potentially dire consequences of failing to protect against STD's and pregnancy whenever one does have sex is definitely not the same thing as condoning indiscriminate, casual sex.

MikeR -- "Mom says not to" may not be such a good excuse. But "God says not to" worked VERY well for me. And "Mom and Dad say not to because God does not like it. Because we are human beings able to control our own impulses, not animals that must react out of instinct"

Oh and of course that is not going to work on a child who has not been raised to trust in God in the first place. Before you can teach your kid about sex, you have to lay the background, as a parent, in being reasonable. In raising your child with certain expectations so that they know what is expected of them. And that there are good reasons behind their expectations. It really starts as a young child. With the clothes your parents allow you to wear. And the TV programs they allow you to watch.

Oh and here's another blog about the same site:
http://www.dawneden.com/2004_07_01_archive.html#109022394210229752

I was thinking, in one of my above posts, I meant:

Children need our protection, not our PERMISSION. I said "Approval" but that's not what I really meant.

MikeR--it's not about instilling RULES, it's about instilling a philosophy of self-respect and self-control (ah, control, the watchword, but here it is being used in a completely different way). It's not enough that a parent says "Thou Shalt Not!" and it's not even enough that GOD says "Thou Shalt Not!" because we often decide to go against what we have been "told" and do what we please anyway.

That's the problem with RULES. I never said parents have to lock their children in their rooms until they're 18. Of COURSE they're going to go out into the world, and that is the very reason we must give them a philosophy, not just a command.

When we train dogs or horses or any kind of animals, we must be extremely firm, but we also must be loving. Now, I am not saying children are animals....They are people, they are human beings, each one a "self" separate from his or her mother and father. They shouldn't be "trained," but TAUGHT instead. That doesn't mean saying, "Mom and Dad say so! It's just wrong! The end!" That is a failure on the parents' part. Parents are teachers, and it is imperative that THEY TOO be emotionally mature and self-aware if they are going to teach their children.

I was raised in a horrifying and abuse household--what kind of abuse? Well, take your pick. It was there. It was awful. Though I entered my adulthood utterly damaged, I did not flip the bird at the extremely violent upbringing I had experienced. I was aware that, again, both EXTREMES were entirely off the mark.

My parents gave me no reason for anything. My mother, in particular, was a merciless dictator. But seeing the confusion that my liberal, free-spirited friends began to experience in their teenage years and throughout college, I became acutely aware that something was wrong with BOTH approaches.

It doesn't have to be a religious issue. It doesn't have to be a moral issue. Sometimes it's just common sense. Why would a 16-year-old, dealing with choosing a college, taking the SATS, trying to get good grades, editing the literary magazine or whatever....WHY would they even want to get involved in a sexual relationship that will most likely leave them scarred and angry and worse off than they were before? Why add the possibility of STDs, crisis pregnancy, and an emotional and psychological tailspin to an already highly stressed daily life?

I want my daughter to know that she should wait because that's best for her, because I love her and I want her to love herself and to be the very very very best she can be. Sometimes that means keeping your pants zipped, and when you're a teenager, it's just a good idea to keep them zipped anyway. Who wants to enter their twenties after their sexually liberated teens already feeling like a used dishrag?

"it's about instilling a philosophy of self-respect and self-control"

I couldn't agree more, JB. It's just that there are two sides to the self-control coin - it's possible to take anything too far. A desire to be cautious and responsible can morph into an irrational fear of taking risks - trust me, I know this. My first sexual experience was delayed far beyond what I would consider an appropriate time-frame, and to this day I struggle with convincing myself to take risks in the realm of interpersonal relations.

Teenage sex is most frequently a bad idea, but that reality has to be balanced against the reality that a strategy of sheltering oneself from the full range of life and attempting to avoid risk carries some daunting risks of its own.

Do you remember a movie called Four Friends? It's a beautiful film, and wonderful illustration of a specific, admittedly unusual case where a refusal to have sex as a teen led to many years of great pain for all concerned. It holds immense personal meaning for me.

I guess what I'm saying is that a philosophy that says there are NO circumstances under which sex could be appropriate for a teenager is really just a rule in disguise, and just as likely to be ignored in the heat of the moment. I think what works is to teach the kid all the wisdom you've gained about sex and love over the course of your life, giving due emphasis to all the dangers, but also not trying to hide the good stuff. Kids - or anyone else - really need that balanced view to be able to make the wisest possible decisions. Without it, they're far more likely to make regrettable, avoidable mistakes.

Unless you're planning to lock your daughter up and forbid her to ever date or go out with her friends, you have zero control over whether or not she has sex, or gives some pimply teenaged boy a blowjob.

What you do have control over is whether or not your daughter is ignorant.

Whatever, dude. It's thinking like that that's keeping our country from ever moving forward. I know that sounds backwards to you, but ever since parents became laissez-faire in their children's lives, we've seen more teenagers become sexually active a lot earlier than ever before, and a higher rate of abortion and disease.

I'm not talking about control--YOU are. All liberals are about "control" and turning a blind eye to what they think is likely to be done or thought or practiced. But I know a lot of teenagers who have excellent relationships with their mature, understanding, and loving parents, and they're not out having sex. You know why? Because they are taught well, and know that sex has its place. Can I stop my child from having sex when she's a teenager? Of course not. I can't stop anybody from doing anything. But the likelihood of her getting herself in an unnecessary sexual mess is much less if I am a positive influence in her life, and if I am involved--not in a controlling way--in her life. I'm talking about parental relationships with their children, not about parents being the boss.

But you know what? Go ahead. Let all the kids have sex. Maybe they just have to learn the hard way (no pun intended), so that by the time they have their own children, they're just as confused and ignorant as you are. Oh, boy, I can't wait for my daughter to meet YOUR kids.

Good God.

Liberals: "We won't grow up."

Jacqueline, I am a liberal and for the most part, I'm agreeing with you.

Part of why there's so much vitriol in today's political discourse is that people on both sides ignore or downplay moderate voices in the opposition and selectively focus on the most strident ones...

Facts beat fairy tales.

I am not appalled by that advice, but I was appalled when a valedictorian on full scholarship to college, thought she could not get pregnant on her first time.

Keep it a mystery if you like. Hope you enjoy being a grandparent early.