Teens and Birth Control, Part Two
I just want to offer a heartfelt thank you to all of you who wrote comments about Monday’s show with the Dr. Phil Family. I asked you to respond to Katherine’s naïve, but typically teenage, remarks that revealed her ignorance about birth control. I wanted to know if you believed we should make sure our kids get all the facts about birth control, whether they are having sex or not. Or, are we only causing more problems — and perhaps encouraging them to have sex before they are ready — if we push birth control and sex education on them at too early of an age?
What touched me was how much thought you parents have put into this issue. Many of you are obviously anguished, not sure what to do. Others are still admittedly uncomfortable about talking to your children. And there are plenty of heated opinions on both sides. Some of you wrote in to say you are genuinely convinced you can persuade your kids to abstain. “I will be honest with my kids about not having sex until they find the person that they are going to marry,” Lani wrote. “I will also put a fear of God in my daughter’s boyfriends, and my son, about not having sex.” On the other hand, there was this comment from MJ: “It’s like having a pool. You can tell your kids not to go into the pool. You can build a fence around it. But if you know your kids are still going to figure out a way to get into that pool, don’t you think you ought to teach those kids how to swim?”
So where do I come down on all of this?
Well, let me say right off that I’ve been very open for a long time about my belief in comprehensive, value-based sex education programs. Studies show that those kids who receive sex education are much less likely to get pregnant than those who don’t — which is very important when you consider that the United States still has the highest rate of teen pregnancy of any developed country. And there is no data that suggests sex education programs increase teenage promiscuity. We can’t be naïve here. More than ever before, kids are getting bombarded on their own with a smorgasbord of information about sex, which is all the more reason for us to make sure we equip them with the tools to make the proper decisions. We need to make sure they know the very serious risks they face when making the decision to participate in sexual activity.
And what do I think is the parents’ role in all this? When do I believe is the time to have the big talk with your kid? The answer to that question is that there is not simply one “big talk.” Your job is to maintain a constant dialogue with your son or daughter that needs to start pretty early on. If you look on DrPhil.com, you’ll find excellent tips and talking points to get the dialogue started. You don’t have to wait until you are some sort of “sexpert,” full of facts and figures, to begin the dialogue. One of your main jobs is to listen and to be a moral guide — to teach your children that a condom or a pill will not protect their minds, their hearts or their emotions, and the pill or a condom won’t protect them from STDs either.
And as for you and me, our dialogue on this subject is also just getting started. In fact, I want you to tune into Wednesday’s show because we are going to again discuss teens and sex. We’re going to talk about the latest teen sex trend that will no doubt disturb and maybe even disgust you. But it’s happening. It’s a very important issue we simply cannot ignore.
And, as always, I look forward to your comments. Here are a few that came in:
Blog reader Becca says, “Personally, I don’t believe in birth control. I guess it’s safe to say that I do believe that the only safe sex is no sex at all. I’m 18, and it’s worked for me thus far …”
Another reader, AH, believes, “Birth control is only a symptom of the problem. Every teenager should have access to birth control, but girls especially need to take this matter into their own hands. The truth is that birth control pills are extremely detrimental to girls. Artificial hormones damage their health, especially when taken long term. And, it is a false sense of security, because they feel like they don’t need condoms if they are on the pill. This leads to more risk of STDs. Girls need to take their sexual health into their own hands.”
On my Facebook page, Cheryl says: “Lemme see,…. birth control has increased promiscuity and disease, and the one who pays usually is the woman. I think self respect and self control needs to be taught. The guys need to grow up and stop thinking woman are put here on earth to meet their needs. If there is no real commitment, there should be no sex.”
Felicia says, “Being a teen mom, I can say that I never personally talked to my mom about birth control. I feel that our society almost makes it a bad thing to mention that birth control is an option. Adults don’t want to sit down and explain the dirty details of parenting and it’s hardships, because they don’t want to admit that it is HARD!”