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Abstinence: All Talk No Action

Abstinence-only education programs don't work. So says a government study on the topic released late last week.

Researchers set up intricate program groups that controlled for factors such as race, single-parent households and household income. They then separated like youth into two groups: a program group of kids who attended different types of sex ed programs, and a control group, who did not have access to those programs. The study found no differences in behavior in the two groups.

The findings are fascinating:

* At the end of the study, when the average age of those participating was just under 17, half of the teens in both groups had become sexually active.

* Of youth reporting to be sexually active, the mean age the first time they had sex was 14.9 years old.

* About 1 in 4 of all youths in the study reported having had sex with three or more partners.

* About 1 in 6 had sex with four or more partners.

* One in four sexually active adolescents in the U.S. has a sexually transmitted disease.

* In the last year of the study, about 55 percent of youth reported being abstinent, 23 percent of both groups reported having had sex and always using a condom; 17 percent of both groups reported having had sex and sometimes using a condom. Four percent of both groups reported having had sex and never using a condom.

According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, teens say that parents have the most influence over their sexual behavior, not their peers as many parents believe. And 37 percent of teens say that their parents have never talked to them about sex. Apparently, parents know that they need to talk to their kids -- they just don't know what to say (here are some tips), how to say it and when to have the conversation (it's an ongoing discussion, folks).

Have you talked to your kids about abstinence? Will you?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  April 19, 2007; 7:10 AM ET  | Category:  Teens , Tweens
Previous: Talk to Your Kids About Shootings | Next: Magnetic Dangers


Have we talked - no, they are too young.
Will we talk - absolutely.

Posted by: Father of 2 | April 19, 2007 7:29 AM | Report abuse

It has not been that long since we were all teenagers....I think teaching being safe is more important. I think in a perfect world it is good to teach abstinence but to also teach safe sex so if you are in a situation where you are going to have sex you know how to protect yourself. That is what I will teach my kids.

Posted by: HappyDad | April 19, 2007 7:40 AM | Report abuse

I'm confused. What kind of abstinence is involved in the "virginity pledges"?

Is it technical virginity? Vaginal virginity? Does oral sex/anal sex count? Does phone sex/cyber sex count?

Posted by: Mike | April 19, 2007 7:59 AM | Report abuse

It hasn't been that long since we were all teenagers, but the landscape of teenage sexuality has changed dramatically. I am a sex educator, and this is the point that I find every parent stumbling over.

In addition to the dramatically increased threat of dying as a direct result of unsafe sex, the ways teenagers are being sexual has changed dramatically. Most notably, the age of oral sex initiation is much lower now, and oral sex is done much more often. This is particularly problematic because teenagers are often uninformed about the potential of STD transmission during oral sex.

Abstinence from vaginal-penile intercourse is one thing. But this study didn't even pose direct questions about other forms of sex.

Karen Rayne

Posted by: Karen Rayne | April 19, 2007 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Karen Rayne

"It hasn't been that long since we were all teenagers"

It's been over 30 years for ME. You should know better than to make such a sweeping statement as your first sentence. You loses a lot of credibity that way.

Posted by: Jake | April 19, 2007 8:06 AM | Report abuse

I plan on it, absolutely. I expect that my kids will wait until marriage, but I think that virginity pledges, promise rings etc. are gimmicks that do more harm than good. Kids need an honest dialogue with their parents and mentors, not the patronizing crap that passes for sex education in schools today.

Posted by: Socorro | April 19, 2007 8:13 AM | Report abuse


I was quoting HappyDad actually, and meant to transform his statement to:

"It may not have been all that long since we were teenager..."

I apologize for the mis-type!


Posted by: Karen Rayne | April 19, 2007 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Of course we plan on talking about abstinence and doing it fairly young (given how young kids are having sex and experimenting these days). However, we will no only talk abstinence as I think that is, frankly, unproductive.

It makes my skin crawl to think of my daughter having sex at 14 or 15. But, no matter how much I talk to her about waiting, if she is going to have sex, she is going to have sex. I can't watch her 24 hours a day; nor, do I intend to.

Therefore, I also plan to talk to her about birth control, preventing STD's, the potential emotional/physical impacts of having sex, sex other than "vaginal" sex, etc. My parents did not arm me with any information on these things and I believe that -while I was a "good" kid- I was very naive and unknowing about sex and sexual experiences. I want my daughter to have that information and to be able to protect herself (physically and emotionally).

And, Jake, relax. I think what Karen means is we can all remember what it was like to be a teenager. Quit nitpicking and address the topic

Posted by: JS | April 19, 2007 8:16 AM | Report abuse

I intend to give my son full information, as my mother gave me. (Some of it I might have his dad talk to him about, if it embarrasses him to talk to a woman about sex.)
At the moment, however, his entire vocabulary consists of "mama", "dada", "no", and "milk!" so I don't think the discussion would be too productive now.

Posted by: Katja | April 19, 2007 8:27 AM | Report abuse

My DD is too young now (3) but like JS said, "it makes my skin crawl to think of her having sex at age 14." But I do want to lay all the options on the table. Abstinence would only be one of the choices. I would also like to talk to her about safer sex (condom use etc, birth control) and the dangers of sexual partners STDs, emotional, and pregnancy. I think the statistics are alarming. I also wonder why are kids more sexually active. Do they need more attention, more informatin, or is the liberal cultural convincing them to have sex earlier and in more risky ways? Frankly, putting all the physical aspects aside, the emotional side is also very scary. These kids have no idea what they are getting themselves into. It is scary-plain and simple.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 19, 2007 8:35 AM | Report abuse

I spoke with my now college aged daughter about sex as soon as I detected her curiosity about the subject...around eight I think. I encouraged her to ask "technical questions" but my main emphasis was on what the far reaching impacts of having sex are on your life. As she got older, early to mid teens, I emphasized approriate behavour around males, situations to avoid etc. When she started to date, I told her flat out that I did not want her to mess up her life, and that if she was contemplating having sex, that she needed to come to me and I would make sure she had protection. I promised her that I would not judge although I was bound to be unhappy about it. One night she came home from a date with her first serious boyfriend and told me she needed to go to the doctor. I got her an appointment the next day and I have to say she is very responsible with her pills and I feel she is adequately educated. What I couldn't shield her from was the inevitable heartbreak and emotional consequences of her actions. That she had to learn for herself even though I had warned her so strongly.

Posted by: heresathought | April 19, 2007 8:36 AM | Report abuse

My mother would have beaten the living bejeepers out of me if she thought we (my sister and I) were sexually active. Then she would have locked us in our room FOREVER. In fact she did beat my sister when she came home from dates. I never figured out why. Back in those days I was totally clueless. I moved away from home at 19 and never knew what a lesbian was until I heard some co-workers talking about them. I had no idea about that gay/lesbian thing. It's still bizarre to me. Anyway -- the thought of children being sexually active turns my stomach. Parents: You aren't doing your job.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

I never had "the talk" from either my mom or my father. In fact, the day I got married my dad made a stumbling, hesitant attempt to tell me what I should do/not do on my wedding night.

This after I had been away from home for the last three years at a university, dating my future wife, who lived off campus at least part of the time.

I intend to give my future children full disclosure and information (based on their age of course) on sex, certainly a lot earlier than my dad tried to do!

Posted by: John L | April 19, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I don't think there's a single parent out there that would sit down with their kids and have a "safe drug use" talk. We wouldn't first discourage them from trying drugs and then tell them that since we know that we can't stop them from using drugs, we'll instead show them how to use clean needles, and never share, and always buy the purest stuff so you don't have to risk dying from the impurities!

To have a talk about "safe sex" (which isn't) is similar to my "safe drug" talk above. Sex is so dangerous, not just to the child's physical well being, but to their mental well-being as well. And the consequences for one wrong step in your choice of sexual partners can be just as life-threatening as using the wrong drug. Not to mention the potential life-long consequences of becoming pregnant.

Furthermore, we EXPECT them to control themselves when it comes to drugs. We do not tell them it is "ok" to start taking them or experimenting with them because it's NOT okay. We belittle them and make them to be nothing more than little animals when we tell them "Well, I want you to control yourself when it comes to sex but since I know you probably can't...". It's NOT okay for my son to be having sex before he's married. It's NOT okay for him to be experimenting with sex before he's even old enough to understand the consequences.

I have told my son how sex works. I have explained to him that it is designed to create children and that it can be enjoyable, but I have also told him that the consequences for choosing poorly when it comes to sex can be devastating on emotional and physical levels. I have told him it's not okay for him to have sex until he's married. We have a lot of influence over our children's behavior and attitudes. Let's not cop out on them when it comes to something so potentially damaging to them. Let's not give up on them, let's assume the best of them rather than the worst. Let's give them the real information they need, but let's not give them an open door to try things out before their minds and bodies are ready.

Posted by: Brandy | April 19, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

According to my stepdaughter, some of the most promiscuous girls in high school were the ones who had signed abstinence agreements. By this, I mean they did everything but sex with as many guys as they wanted, but felt virtuous because they hadn't had intercourse.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 19, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

A parent is caught in a difficult situation when it comes to talking about sex with their children. You would of course, prefer they wait until they are older, and that sort of 'abstinence only' stance sounds good, but if you rely on their own judgement, the study shows what happens.

I happen to think that wrapping yourself in an 'abstinence only' stance, is cowardly, since it only allows the parent to say they tried to teach them the right thing, and the study indicates that if the 'abstinence only' approach is the only one pursued, it simply doesn't work.

So I guess it comes down to a hard question for a parent: Do you want to protect your children or do you want to protect your personal morality....

At least that's the way I see it...

It's a hard decision, but I chose to protect my children....

In my case, history has revealed to me that it was the correct decision...

Posted by: Rich | April 19, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Parents aren't doing their job if they don't beat their kids???!!!! I can't agree.

Anyway, what's a child? I don't want my children having sex at 14 (ick!), but I don't see the need for them to wait until marriage if they're going to get married in their late 20s like most college-educated people these days. I'd rather my children not wait until marriage than get into a bad marriage for the sex.

I hope information and frank talk will be enough. Right now my older is 5, and we're working more on privacy issues - and personal space. A little about sexuality - "no kissing on the mouth, we kiss our friends on the cheek". I think they pick that up from the disney movies - all the 5-6 year olds are trying to "screen-kiss" (ocassionally! it's not a sex-abuse thing).

Posted by: inBoston | April 19, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Oprah magazine had a really good piece on the whole 'promise ring' thing a while ago. In short, here's the argument -- one of the major factors that predicts whether or not a girl will be promiscuous is the presence/absence of a strong male role model in the home. THe idea is that if your daughter KNOWS that her father finds her beautiful and fascinating and terrific, she's less likely to feel like she needs male attention to prop up her self-worth. She's also more likely to find a high quality relationship some day with a guy who respects her -- and she's more likely to feel she deserves respect and can demand it from others, including men.

The idea of the promise ring is for the girl to have a tangible symbol of how special and valuable she is, so that if a guy is pressuring her and saying things like "I'm going to dump you if you don't give me what I want" she'll maybe think twice about whether she's better off without him. That's all -- no chattel, nothing weird, just a symbol of how much the girl is respected and loved and valued. It's a nice idea.

Posted by: just saying | April 19, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

To Brandy -- Your argument is persuasive and at first, I thought wow, she's right. Then I thought about it and want to point out this distinction -- drugs should never be done in a person's lifetime (its illegal). Sex is natural and will likely be done in a person's lifetime. The only issue is timing. So I think that is why people are not comparing sex to drugs -- just my thought

Posted by: Marie | April 19, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Is it within the bounds of reason in our society to say that perhaps it's perfectly ok for teens to have sex. The qualification would be that it should be practiced safely (as it indeed can be) -- but the specter of physical danger wouldn't be used as a pretext (as it usually is) for enforcing *moral* disapproval of teen sex. Or is it a taboo to say that sex can be a good thing not only for adults but for teens too (as nature so strongly urges)?

Posted by: A. Friend | April 19, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I've always thought my mother got lucky...I had the "talk" about the technical, anatomical side of it when I was about the car, and it was excrutiatingly embarrassing for me. But when I was about 12, my 16-year-old cousin get pregnant, which gave my mom a reason and a context in which to bring up safe sex, birth control, emotional consequences, and how this was going to change her life.

Posted by: CE | April 19, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Brandy is absolutely correct. Marie -- yes illegal drug use is just that -- illegal. Let's use a cigarette anaolgy then. If we are of the mindset that kids might smoke, should we teach them about which ones are safer - perhaps the ones with the lowest nicotine? No, of course not. We have zero tolerabce for allowing 14 year old children to smoke. It should be the same with 14 year old children having sex. Parents should stop being buddies with their kids and start acting like parents.

Posted by: steve | April 19, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Promise Ring Propaganda

1. Oprah's endorsement is worth less than zero.

2. It's a bunch of marketing b.s. to get Americans to BUY MORE STUFF. That's called consumerism. There's a big epidemic in this country.

3. You can fool some of the people some of the time....

Posted by: Frank | April 19, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

To Steve -- but smoking is illegal in children under 18. Furthermore, taking the smoking analogy further, smoking is something that everyone will do in their lifetimes, we just need to tell our kids when?? Sex is not illegal. Tobacco before 18 is illegal, Alcohol before 21 is illegal, drugs are illegal.

Posted by: Marie | April 19, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

To the people who state that they expect their children will remain virgins until married, please...get some perspective. It's not going to happen. The average age for marriage has been spiking steadily upward. I am in my late 30s, and many of my friends are marrying for the first time now. Why? They went to college, established careers, bought houses, built up savings and traveled. Do you REALLY expect your child is going to remain a virgin until 37? Do you really want your child getting married at 18 only because he/she is desperate to have sex? And to the person who said "there's no such thing as safe sex," please imagine how silly and tragic that statement would sound if your teenager came home with Hep C, HIV/AIDS or genital herpes from unprotected sex, which really is "unsafe sex." You have got to inject some reality into this discussion...otherwise you are playing with your children's health. Likening it to drug use (I don't teach my children drug use is OK, why would I teach them sex is OK?) is equally silly. Drug use should be taboo for everyone, adult or child. Sex is a normal part of human life and if you can't come to terms with the fact that some day your child is going to grow up (hopefully beyond the unstable teenage years) and have sex, then you may have some issues of your own to let go of. Why not take steps to make sure when that does happen, your child is emotionally and intellectually prepared to respect him/herself and others, and engage it in in a healthy manner?

Posted by: T. Roth | April 19, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I cannot believe that sex is being compared to drug use. There is a safe, responsible way to have sex, there is no safe way to do drugs. You can be arrested for drugs...not for sex. How are young adults to begin to start acting like adults if they are not treated as such.

If young adults (15-16 y/o) are instilled with values and have ambition, and are raised to be responsible (have jobs, have to pay for their own things) why would they want to mess up their future by getting an STD or getting pregnant at a young age? I knew enough to know that if I wasn't smart about it, I would have to suffer the consequences of my actions.

Posted by: amc | April 19, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

"There is a safe, responsible way to have sex"

There is NO 100% safe, responsible way to have physical sex with another person.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

""There is a safe, responsible way to have sex"

There is NO 100% safe, responsible way to have physical sex with another person."

We therefore know that the anon poster at 10:14am is either
a) practicing unsafe sex
b) completely repressed pissed-off virgin.

I'm thinking b.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Define safe?? I consider myself as having safe sex with my husband. However, if he strays and I get AIDS .. . guess what, that is a risk of waking up, living life, and having sex with your spouse

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Okay 10:18 -- that was mean, but funny.

I had a friend who waited until her wedding night to have sex (age 30). 14 months later, they had a baby, he had run up their credit cards, he left, and she was left living at home with mom, dad and baby. Were their signs??? Sure. Did I see them? No. Did she see them? No. So that did not work out so well for her, but at least she did not have a disease.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Hey anon 10:14 and 10:23, sad thing is there are people out there that actually and truely feel that way.

Sex is an ugly thing only to be done at the bare minimum to have kids.

Posted by: Anon 10:18 | April 19, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

One thing you have to tell your kids: There is a difference between sex and love. Sex is merely the physical act. Love involves an emotional cost as well. Most adults can't tell the difference, either. Tell your daughter that every boy/man she has sex with does not love her. He's only getting his rocks off. It is only a physical thing with him. So, there is no 100% safe sex.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Ahhh, if we mean safe to include emotional harm . . . then I completely agree that there is no such thing as 100% safe sex. But hey, thats part of the fun :)

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I have never had the "talk" with my 12 and 15 year old daughters about sex. The reason being is that's an ongoing conversation. As they discover different aspects of their own sexuality as well as absorb external societal messages as they mature, the relative discussion carries on.

They are also aware that their own parents are sexual beings too. they understand that Mommy and Daddy need their time together. though the details are spared, the kids are still curious enough to ask, and this is when they get the privacy and special bond that creates babies discussion.

My 15 year old also knows that I will not provide contraception for her even if she reveals to me that she is involved in a sexual relationship. My feeling on this is that a sexual relationship has consequenses, and though contraception can reduce the risk of pregnancy, the profound impact it will have on her as a person is unavoidable.

I am against any government program that attempts to teach kids contraception as a viable solution for avoiding pregnancy. If the abstinence only messaed doesn't work, I can't understand how the "make sure you use a condom" message will have any significant impact on reducing irresponsible teenage sexual habits. In other words, teenagers, and adults, get pregnant as well as contract STDs because they have sex with somebody. The notion that girls get pregnant because someone didn't use the contraception properly, or not at all, is rediculus.

Posted by: Father of 4 | April 19, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Father of 4

Your daughter can get contraception elsewhere.

What message does work?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

i think that comparing sex with drugs or cigarettes is a flase comparision. until you become hooked on drugs or cigs does your body produce hormones that encourage you to have try them? of course not. does your body produce hormones that encourage sex? yes. a woman's hormones change when she enters her fertile period. it's part of nature's way of ensuring the procreation.

if you dig deeper into the promise ring idea it is just creepy. the idea of a strong male role model is good but what about honoring a girl's grades or her abilities. thinking that the only reason my father loves me is because my hymen is intact is too close to the idea that my family's honor is tied to my hymen.

Posted by: quark | April 19, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

In response to no 100% safe way to have sex...there is no 100% safe way to drive a car, or fly in an airplane, or go out to a bar and have a drink (roofies, bar fights). However - I understand the point of view.

While you can tell your children not to do it - you can also educate them at the same time - since we all know you cannot be with young adults 100% of the time.

What's better - a parent forbidding their teens not to have sex, or a teen arriving at that decision on their own because of the parenting, guidance, and education they've received their entire life.

I agree with poster at 10:30 - emotional education as well as physical education is best.

Posted by: amc | April 19, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

"Tell your daughter that every boy/man she has sex with does not love her. He's only getting his rocks off."

Whoa, are we living in the '50s?

The same thing could be said to sons.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I see your point but I think that it's a bad argument to compare an activity that will always be illegal (illegal drug use) to something that is part of the cycle of life and legal (sex). Adults need to have healthy attitudes toward sex, whether they are active or not. Those attitudes start in the childhood years.

Posted by: to Brandy | April 19, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Just got off the phone with Bill Albert, the deputy director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. He gave me lots of fodder for future blogs. But one interesting point he made is that parents send mixed messages. We tell girls to avoid sex but we wink at the boys and tell them to be safe.

Following up on the sex vs. love comment, does the message you give your kids differ based on their gender?

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | April 19, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

My husband jokes that having a boy and girl is the difference between worrying about one penis and a hundred penises.

Girls have the babies and its the girl's parents that raise the babies (stereotypically), so the worry hits home more with girls. It should not matter, but I am afraid that it does

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

"We tell girls to avoid sex but we wink at the boys and tell them to be safe. "

We pretty much do the same thing with guns.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

"What message does work?"

I teach my daughter that a person should only have sex with a partner if they both are willing to accept a child into their lives.

Posted by: Father of 4 | April 19, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

To 11:41 huh?? We tell girls to avoid guns??

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Father of 4

Since your life is a mess, why do you think your kids will listen to you?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Flip the study over. Isn't it also concluding that conventional sex education (which the kids in the urban-school control group received) produces no better results than abstinence-only? How to choose between the programs if one is just as good as the other?

Posted by: Tom T. | April 19, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I will when my kids are old enough (which seems to be getting younger and younger). His dad and I will tell him what my parents told me, we don't want you to have sex but when you do (and I am certain he will have sex before he is married), you need to know this. Sex has physical and emotional consequences. You could get the girl pregnant and be responsible for a child. You could get a disease that could affect your long-term health. Sex requires responsibility not just for yourself, but for your partner and your family.

So I probably won't sound so sophisticated when it comes down to actually talking about this but that is the message I want him and his sister to come away with.


I think culturally boys and girls go get totally different messages. Older men having sex with teenager girls outrages people but older women having sex with teenage boys gets cheers, even television coverage when the female pedophile marries the teenage father of her child? Makes my blood boil. As a parent, I hold my kids to the same standards but what to do about the cultural messages they get? You have to wonder why Lolita is considered scandalous but Mrs. Robinson is considered a coming of age story.

Posted by: LM in WI | April 19, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I talk to my daughter about it frequently - of course she is only 50 months old so I don't know if it will sink in.

LM in WI- Lolita was about an adolescent girl (excelent book by the way) whereas The Graduate was about a college graduate. That is not a double standard but a reasonable distinction. I didn't see anyone cheering that teacher in Washington who went to jail for ahving sex with her student - the souble standard is in your head.

Posted by: aa | April 19, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

"I talk to my daughter about it frequently - of course she is only 50 months old so I don't know if it will sink in."

I caution my cats all the time, but they keep giving me the finger!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Question for all parents: How will your conversations with your kids about sex change as they get older? How will they differ with your child as a 14 year old versus as a 19 year old? How have parents of older teens navigated this?

Honest question for the parents who talk about wanting to protect their kids from premarital sex, or who think that no sex is safe: Are these your feelings about all people in sexual relationships, or just your children? How is your sexual relationship with your own partner?

Posted by: boston liz | April 19, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

"How is your sexual relationship with your own partner?"

It's really, really bad.
Menopause is a big bummer.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

It's the boys/men who do the raping and brag about it with their buds. It's the boys/men who slip rophies into their date's drink. However, the girls are the ones running around in halter tops with their pierced belly buttons hanging out and teasing. If you dress and act like a tramp, you'll be treated like a tramp.

All of these people are the reflection of what their parents taught them.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

that's right. blame the victim - she was asking for it. look at the way she was dressed. does that apply to all woman? so since men can't control their sex urges women should dress with the bodies completely covered lest we excite a man into losing control.

Posted by: quark | April 19, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

As long as humans live on planet earth people will have sex.

As long as republicans are allowed to lie and get appointed to the court and elected into government they will try to stop it.

Neo-Cons want to regulate our bedroom. former (thank god) senator Rick Santorum openly said he thought the government should regulate our bedrooms.

Do YOU want the government regulating your bedroom? Well they just did.

Thanks for voting.

Posted by: Joel | April 19, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Narie -- the PURCHASE of cigarettes by minors is illegal -- not their smoking them. Have you ever seen a police officer arrest kids on the corner for smoking?

Posted by: Steve | April 19, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

My parents never talked to me about sex or puberty or anything. I found out in school. I didn't have sex as a teen because I knew that if I had a baby I would be unlikely to ever get a college education or make a better life for myself. I also didn't want to give it up to an unworthy guy. A high school teacher (I went to a girl-only high school) said something that really stuck with me: she said that while us girls were pining over the boys who "loved" us, and reliving those wonderful intimate moments in our minds, those same boys had forgotten us as soon as they pulled up their pants, and were now putting their heads down and doing their schoolwork so they could get A's and go to college. It made a lightbulb go on for me. I plan to use the same pragmatism with my boys. Teenage sex often leads to teenage parenthood, which closes off life opportunities. Don't give up forty years of opportunities for five minutes of fun.

Posted by: m | April 19, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

"Don't give up forty years of opportunities for five minutes of fun."

Five minutes!! Does it ever last that long???

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

It seems that some people posting assume that kids are like animals who are just going to have sex no matter what. I got married at 29 and my wife is the only woman I have been with. We've got three kids, a great marriage and I was able to wait for the right person, something I know made her feel very special. I know I'm in the minority, but it is possible. My parents instilled waiting until marriage in me, and it is a decision I do not regret at all. BTW -- I am not talking as someone in his 80's -- I'm 44.

Posted by: Steve | April 19, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

DD hasn't figured out where her feet are yet, so I won't be talking to her about abstinence anytime soon! In the future, sure I will though.

I think a large part of the reason abstinence messages don't work is that they are counter to the rest of the culture we expose kids to. For instance, my kid sister's favorite movie last year was John Tucker Must Die. So I watched it ... I was absolutely horrified. The cavalier attitude toward promiscuity that all the major characters have is a far, far cry from the coming of age movies I watched when I was her age. We allow our kids to watch the writhing and gyrating Pussycat Dolls and then are suprised when they bump and grind at school dances dressed like tarts. We leave our kids to their own after-school devices and then are suprised that they're doing things we would not approve of. We don't partake in real communities - of neighbors, extended families or faith anymore - and then we're surprised that our kids haven't magically inherited the moral compass we wanted them to. Kids learn by EXAMPLE, not by telepathy.

Sure, a lot of the blame lies with parents. But our society as a whole has put parents into the position where both parents often have to work and can't monitor their kids as well, where we are encouraged to move away from our family networks for a dream career, and where going to church seems hokey. In a quest to be progressive and "better ourselves," we've lost our landmarks.

I'm sure I'll get reamed for it (I always did, on the OnBalance blog, which I really think should be renamed OnGlasnost due to some of the commentary there lol), but I really don't care. I think society is way too permissive nowadays, and therein lies a lot of the behavioral problems of youth. JMO.

Posted by: StudentMom | April 19, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Each child is unique and requires unique dialogue to encourage them to be noble people of their own word and not just taught to "Just say NO!"

Listening to your children wull get more respect than anything else ever will.

At 53 I still listen to my children's intent with every word they share with me!

Posted by: Patrick | April 19, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Good point Steve.

Im 31, an expectant father. My wife and I waited until marriage, and the fact that our children will see that their parents practiced what they preach will go a long way. If society didnt mock abstinence, parents' job at promoting it would be a little easier.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I think the obvious question to ask in this study is whether or not the sex-ed curriculum that features such things as condoms, etc (as opposed to "abstinence only") achieves a better result. The last study that I read that attempted such a thing we pretty old.

Posted by: David S | April 19, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I would like to jump in to this discussion. While I agree that teaching abstince only is probably not effective, I still feel it should be at least part of what is taught.

To say that no child will wait until they are married so we might as well not even bother is false. I am a 30 year old single female and I made the decision long ago not to have sex until I'm married (did I realize it would take me this long to get married, no! but that's another discussion):-) But,contrary to popular belief, I am a normal,happy, active social person.I'm not repressed or scared of sex or men. My parents weren't strict or overbearing. My mom talked with me openly and honestly about my body, my feelings, relationships etc. My parents were married for 30 years (before my mom's death) and my dad was a loving, strong presence in my life.

Since I came of age during the time that teaching "safe sex" was all the rage I would have to say that those that feel talking about contraceptive use leads kids to have sex is also a false presumption. It certainly didn't for me, or really any of the kids I knew. It really all does come back to the parents. You have so much more power than you realize. More than the schools, more than their friends, even more than the media. My parents made it clear what our values were as a family and what they believed and they didn't waver on that. But they did it in a way that made me feel good about myself. They stressed how important my feelings were and what a special person I was and how I had control over my future with the choices I made. Most importantly they followed that up with trust. My parents always let me know that they trusted me. Knowing that I had my parents trust did more than any "promise ring" or "purity pledge" or whatever other gimmick people have come up with.

So while I understand both sides of this debate (and I may not even be qualified to speak seeing as I am unmarried with no kids) I just wanted to give another view out there to parents. Some young people will wait and they need to be given the tools to do that and the encouragment to do so. But some won't and we can't let them fall through the cracks either. They need to know what to do to keep themselves safe.

Posted by: Allie | April 19, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

"My wife and I waited until marriage, and the fact that our children will see that their parents practiced what they preach will go a long way."

Really? The studies don't agree with you. What exactly does "waited" mean?

Is there any way to prove that you waited? Maybe you and/or your wife have low libidos.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Instant gratification vs. long-term consequences. Just like m said: five minutes of grunting can ruin the next 40 years of your life.

Quark: I repeat, if you dress and act like a tramp, you will be treated like a tramp. That doesn't explain all the rapes and sexual harrassment in the military and the service academies where everybody wears uniforms or fatigues. No getting over the fact that some men can be turned on by a female in camouflage and boots.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I feel sorry for people who think that sex is a five-minute act.

I get your point though. But I have to argue against "teenage sex often leads to teenage parenthood". I don't think that over half of the teenagers who have sex become parents, but would be open to statistics proving otherwise.

Posted by: curious nonmother | April 19, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

"Just like m said: five minutes of grunting can ruin the next 40 years of your life."

Only if you let it.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Two quotations sum up the opposing approaches to sex education:

John 8:32: *You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.*

From George Orwell*s dystopian novel 1984, the inscription on the Ministry of Truth building: *Ignorance is Strength.*

Some public-school sex-ed curricula, and even the *Our Whole Lives* OWL curriculum developed by two Protestant denominations [full disclosure: I belong to one of these] , aim to teach young people basic scientific facts about their bodies, with an emphasis on handling their sexuality responsibly. Understand it and control it, and don*t let it control you. The OWL program at my local church, Wayside United Church of Christ [Federal Way, WA], recently was featured on National Public Radio.

And then there is *Abstinence Ed,* apparently based on the idea that -- if you prevent teenagers from learning that their bodies include this reproductive equipment, and keep them in the dark about how it works -- they won*t ever try to get any use out of it. Were *Abstinence Ed* proponents ever teenagers themselves?

Our Federal Government supports *Abstinence Ed,* and has been caught requiring teenagers to be fed scientific disinformation -- for instance, that condoms totally don*t work. Will lying to our kids help them to grow up healthy and stay out of trouble?

Unplanned pregnancies, sexually-transmitted diseases, and just plain teenage heartbreak are major health problems. *Abstinence Ed* doesn*t address these problems any better than Prohibition addressed alcoholism eight decades ago.

Posted by: oldhonky | April 19, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I teach my daughter that a person should only have sex with a partner if they both are willing to accept a child into their lives.

Posted by: Father of 4 | April 19, 2007 11:44 AM

I hope you will teach your son the same thing.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

oldhonky |

"From George Orwell*s dystopian novel 1984, the inscription on the Ministry of Truth building: *Ignorance is Strength.* "

Also check out Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD for some scary stuff.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Most of the parents out there that expect their own children to "wait" didn't "wait" themselves. While we are at it, let's be realitic. Waited until marriage? Most of the people I ever knew who "waited" have done pretty much everything else. I don't think that really counts as waiting. My daughter is 12 and we have talked about various aspects of this subject (health, deveolpment, respect etc) since she was little. Do I like the thought of my teenage daughter in that situation, no. Do I want to protect her from bad decisions, yes. That is why she gets all the information. Ultimately it is up to her to decide when and with who. You can't control their decisions but you can empower them to make good ones.

Posted by: CaliforniaMom | April 19, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Angry Sexaholic:

"Really? The studies don't agree with you. What exactly does "waited" mean?

Is there any way to prove that you waited? Maybe you and/or your wife have low libidos."

Many people wait till marriage, deal with it. Accusing them of being abnormal is the very reason why kids today are having sex left and right.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad to see people like Steve and Allie refuting the notion that 'absolutely NO ONE' waits until marriage so it's 'completely unrealistic' to hope or expect that your children would too. My husband and I both waited until marriage (late 20s) and all of my siblings (20s also) are also waiting, as did most of my friends and their spouses. Sure, I know that's not the wider norm, but it's certainly *possible* for people to wait and you better believe that's what I'll expect of my kids. I think if you're merely hoping that's the case for your kids but you're already expecting otherwise, you've already lost the battle.

I will say that I'm not surprised it appears both abstinence and contraceptive sex-ed (both include standard biology education) appear to have little impact one way or the other on actual rates, because I really think it's up to the parents and the ongoing conversations you have with your kids and the model and expectations you set. My husband and I will be able to tell our kids we expect from them what we practiced ourselves - if you can't say the same to your kids, you could at least express regret for your choices and encourage your kids to make different choices.

On another point, I absolutely agree that the message of abstinence should be taught to boys as well as girls. Girls may be more vulnerable to immediate consequences, but boys can be equally devastated by the consequences of early sexual activity. There are women out there who value restraint in men just as much as the reverse when it comes to marriage.

Oh, one last point - I'm really distressed, though not altogether surprised, to see the parents who really just don't care if their 14 or 15-year-olds have sex. Really?? How in the world could they possibly be ready at that point?

Posted by: KAL | April 19, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I completely agree with what Allie said. People do wait to have sex. I am 30 and I had sex for the first time when I was 21. I was not married at the time, but in a committed relationship. Just b/c you didn't wait doesn't mean that everyone else is like you. I waited as long as I did to have sex b/c I knew that my mother had waited until marriage. That was important to me. Also, I was very lucky to have a very healthy self esteem as a teenager and I didn't want to "give it up" to just anyone.

It's statements like this one (by Rich) that I completely disagree with:

"I happen to think that wrapping yourself in an 'abstinence only' stance, is cowardly, since it only allows the parent to say they tried to teach them the right thing, and the study indicates that if the 'abstinence only' approach is the only one pursued, it simply doesn't work."

IT DOES WORK! It worked with me, in that I did not have sex until I was an adult and I hope that it will work with my children. My mother talked about sex with me and explained it and told me that the only thing acceptable to her for me was that I wait until marriage. Even though I did not wait until I was married (at 25), I think she did her job since when I did actually have sex, I was an adult and able to act responsibly and be aware of all the repercussions that come with it.

Posted by: Emmy | April 19, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"Question for all parents: How will your conversations with your kids about sex change as they get older? How will they differ with your child as a 14 year old versus as a 19 year old? How have parents of older teens navigated this?"

I think it's just about staying true to your values and providing support and encouragement for your teens. Sure, it is harder to wait as you get older and into college and find even more pressured situations or stronger temptations, especially as it seems no one around you supports your choices. I think my parents helped all their kids navigate the later teens/early twenties years by just being available to talk. Dads know what it was like to be 19 and really in love with their girlfriend; they can offer that understanding to their sons. Another point to encourage in later situations is simply, you have valued this enough to wait this long, so don't give it up now as you actually come closer to marriage.

"Honest question for the parents who talk about wanting to protect their kids from premarital sex, or who think that no sex is safe: Are these your feelings about all people in sexual relationships, or just your children?"

Anybody in sexual relationships outside of marriage, yes. Sex can be treated casually, of course, but ideally it represents total vulnerability and openness of self and should be experienced only in a committed relationship (signified by the lifelong commitment of marriage) that could at least theoretically be open to any children that might come along as a direct result of that sexual relationship. Even if condoms or the pill can protect someone 100% from pregnancy risks (they aren't perfect) or some STDs (not all), they definitely don't protect against emotional and psychological consequences. Teenage relationships in particular are volatile and dramatic enough as it is, why complicate things even more with sex? Sometimes it's definitely hard to wait, if you're any kind of normal person with strong desires, but it takes so much pressure off not having to worry about that aspect of a nonmarital relationship that I don't think it can be worth it otherwise.

For the record, I recognize a difference between 16-year-olds having sex with their SOs and a couple that waited at least until they were engaged, if not married. But I still hold the beliefs I do not just for my kids.

Posted by: KAL | April 19, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Some people do wait until they are married, and more wait until they are in college. But a lot of kids don't wait. A friend from Idaho talked about the Day Care at her high school. The "good girls" were usually the ones who got pregnant because they hadn't planned to have sex, and they got carried away, but didn't have condoms.

Also, ignorance is NOT the answer. I've met too many girls who graduated from the Israeli orthodox school system and did not even know how their bodies worked. As university students, they actually believed an old wives tale that manual labor would cause their wombs to collapse and render them infertile.

So please, talk to your kids, and make sure that they are educated if the schools won't.

Posted by: Tucson | April 19, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I'm really distressed, though not altogether surprised, to see the parents who really just don't care if their 14 or 15-year-olds have sex. Really?? How in the world could they possibly be ready at that point?

Posted by: KAL | April 19, 2007 02:23 PM

KAL, I so completely agree. I have a friend who told me recently that her 15 year old said he's ready to have sex. A comment like that in my house would result in a serious discussion (with me toying with the idea of grounding my child until age 21 :). She was very casual about it and almost seemed proud of him. I was appalled.

I did not wait to have sex until I was married -- I was 19 -- and don't regret it, but 15 is too young for it. Flat out, no way, shouldn't happen.

Posted by: Anon now | April 19, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Please keep in mind that there is a big difference between pre-marital sex at 15 and at 25 in terms of emotional maturity. They only way that they are comparable is if you are morally opposed to premarital sex.

Posted by: Tucson | April 19, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Waiting for Marriage

How do people know if they are sexually compatible if they wait? See Galsworthy's THE FORSYTE SAGA for the disaster than can result from sexual problems.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I am always stunned that as parents we expect to teach children to become responsible, aware, educated, informed adults, ready to make good judgements, already having made a few mistakes and "learning experiences"....except when it comes to sex and relationships?

First off, the fact that we divorce sex talk from relationship talk is all wrong. They are interconnected and both need to be part of the dialogue.

To the ones who say that their talks are an ongoing discussion- kudos. Somehow we don't expect to have "a talk" with kids at age 13 about driving, or money, or careers- but it's the way to go for sex and relationships?

Secondly, just like with religion, IMO, it's the parents responsibility to share THEIR values with THEIR children, to establish the basis for their own values and reflect it TRUTHFULLY in their lives (because trust me, kids will know if you're lying and faking it, and when they find out it will erode your image in them even more than just being honest to begin with).

AND to inform them of the other choices out there. They need to be educated and allowed to be THEIR OWN PERSON. This includes religion, it includes a career, it includes sex. They need to know what choices are out there, the consequences of the choices and taught the tools they need to choose FOR THEMSELVES (because ultimately, they will always be the ones who decide) what is best for them.

There simply isn't another option- unless you want them to hide, lie, or be ignorant.

I fully support abstinence and it's a great way to go- IF it's the choice that a person makes because they've looked at the options and decided it's what they need for themselves. That's the only way a choice about sex will ever stick.

Posted by: Liz D | April 19, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

OOOOOHHHHHH BOY, am I waiting for it to hit the fan with that comment by Sanjay Abattoir.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm one of those lucky people who had parents who had a) strong moral and ethical views on life, and b) placed a high value on education and understanding, not judgement. As a result, I think I have a more healthy and balanced attitude towards sex than many other people my age.

Some examples: I remember my parents being extremely proud when I won a prize for getting the only 100% on a health class test on STDs (I was eight). They also told me when I was ten that I couldn't date until I was 16 (as it happened, my first date was when I was 20) but never explicitly told me that sex before marriage was bad.

When a family friend's daughter (two years older than I) got pregnant at 15 they explained clearly and logically how she had gotten pregnant, and the consequences of it. They knew I had found their adult material and didn't try and limit my access, which meant that I read it all, wasn't impressed, and got bored with it.

I probably knew more about sex before I graduated high school than ten of my classmates, in an intellectual way, but because it was never a mystery for me, I never had the urge to experiment for myself. I'm still not very sexually active, by a freely-made choice.

The moral of this story? There's a way to educate your kids in an age-appropriate way about sex, no matter the age. There's a way to convey to them the full variety, risk, and reward of sex without either encouraging them to experiment before they were ready, making them want to go bang anything with a pulse just to prove they can, or scaring them away from sex with horror stories. My parents didn't let the possibility of their own personal embarrassment prevent them from being open with me. I'm grateful for that.

Posted by: popslashgirl | April 19, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I remember when I was a teenager, Brooke Shields took a vow of virginity until marriage. I often wonder how far she made it. Anyone else remember this ?

Posted by: Rillings | April 19, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

So why isn't that anti-semetic comment removed from this discussion, Washington Post?

Posted by: Steve | April 19, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

But he's got to be a troll - I wouldn't respond.

Posted by: to 3:10 | April 19, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Of course abstinence only does not work. Back before the days of MTV and contemporary culture, girls were getting knocked up. Hormones were enough back then to get us in troubble, even without the cultural influence. Who is to say teenagers should not experiment with sex anyway? I sure did, and 40 years later am not the worse for it. We have raised 4 wonderful now adult children, currently in their thirties who have avoided unwanted children and STDs. I know all of them had sex before marriage, indeed before college. So what? Get your daughters to see a competent gynecologist when they are 15 (or earlier)and respect the confidentiality of that relationship, and scare the bejesus out of your sons about impregnating girls.

Posted by: Braxton Hicks | April 19, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

OK, wow. that is totally off-base. First of all, female circumcision is not circumcision - it is an excision of the parts that make procreation fun, and make a woman want to have sex with her husband. Before anyone else gets into Muslim-bashing, it is not an Islamic practice, although people who practice it may do so in the name of Islam. It is also illegal in the US, fortunately.

Second, clearly, you know nothing about Judaism. I suspect that your country has quite an effective propaganda system as well. Judaism is as opposed to premarital sex as are Christianity and Islam. Orthodox Jews do not believe in physical contact of any sort before marriage, even handshakes.

Posted by: Tucson | April 19, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

If you tell your kids to wait--and they actually do (good luck with that)you are setting them up for a life of confusion and romantic ideals. You HAVE to experience to know what you are doing. You HAVE to experience to figure out how to make time for intimacy, use BC effectively, learn what you will and will not do or tolerate.

You dont get that if you have relations for the first time on your wedding nite. If you talk to someone that waited til their wedding nite--they will clue you in on the "romanticized" ideal and how it actually was for them. I would know since my mother and my mother-in-law told me--delicately--how it turned out for them.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

"To say that no child will wait until they are married so we might as well not even bother is false. I am a 30 year old single female and I made the decision long ago not to have sex until I'm married (did I realize it would take me this long to get married, no! but that's another discussion):-)"

Wow, that was so me. Only, I'm 33 and got tired of waiting, so I had sex with my former boss (who is way too old, married, and has kids my age) a last month...Oh well. It wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. And he was my former boss way before that night for those wondering.

Posted by: Maryland | April 19, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

[Portion removed]

Also, I believe Brooke Shields was a virgin until she got to Princeton.

Posted by: Mel G | April 19, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Well, if I waited until I got married, I might die first, since my partner and I are both women. But that's a different topic....

We have two daughters, and I teach them that sex is one of the best gifts God has given us. And like any gift, you treat it with respect and care. You only share it with someone who is worthy of sharing that special gift--you wouldn't just leave it out in the yard for anyone to play with and ruin.

We also talk a lot about relationships and what qualities a good partner would have. (Last night my 7 yo informed me that her husband would do his own laundry--she wouldn't marry anyone who expected her to do it while he sat around and watched tv. Makes me wonder what she's seeing and hearing at her friend's houses...) As they get older I will talk more explicitly about what qualities you should look for in a person before you enter into a sexual relationship with them.

But honestly, I won't encourage abstinance before marriage. If that's your religious belief, that's fine, but it's not mine. I do think that sex is one of the most beautiful aspects of our human bodies. As long as you're treating it and your partners with respect then it doesn't have to be shared with only one person.

Posted by: seattle | April 19, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

To the poster at 3:35 -- Hardly. It is possible to wait until marriage and yet (1) have realistic expectations that it won't be all romantic and Hollywood-idealized right away, (2) not be confused because you're perfectly aware of your own bodies and how they work, (3) have good communication with your spouse so that you're on the same page with regard to expectations. Besides, if you've both waited and you just got married, you're both in the same boat, experience-wise, and you've got a whole lifetime to figure it out together! It may have been different in past generations with women really having no clue what was going to happen when they got married, but that probably owed more to a lack of knowledge about sexuality in general.

Liz, I do agree with you that no matter what choice you make, you've got to own it and accept it. I think it would be unhealthy for someone to have sex or wait to have sex only because of outside pressures, shame, threats, etc. Especially with regard to abstinence, the choice only works if it's your considered decision and you're committed to it.

Posted by: KAL | April 19, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

To Seattle -- I find it interesting that your daughter talked about her future "husband" not "partner." How do you and your partner address these types of issues. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I can confirm that Brooke Shields had, in fact, lost her virginity sometime during her freshman year at Princeton. A buddy of mine hooked up with her behind the Jadwin Gym one night in '84, and needless to say, he gave me all the details.

Posted by: James Nice | April 19, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I've removed Sanjay and several references to the offensive comment.

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | April 19, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

James Nice: Your friend is full of **it. It's all lies and wishful thinking. Don't believe everything your buds say about their exploits with women.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Typical left leaning censorship on this blog. The moderator removes any and all references that can construed as anti-semitic, which is OK by me. But of course she leaves the Catholic bashing alone. So typical! If you are not going to remove that anti-Catholic rant, the put the Jewish remarks baxck on this site. Selective censorship, especially from the left, is as fascist as Nazi Germany.

Posted by: Mellish | April 19, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse


I've removed the Catholic comment as well. Thank you for pointing it out.

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | April 19, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Mellish: Are you Catholic? I am, and I found the "anti-Catholic" statement more amusing than offensive. It kind of reminds me of the Simpsons episode which contrasted the Catholic and Protestant versions of Heaven; I know which version I'd rather be in!

On topic: My mother told me she expected me to refrain from sex until I was married, but in case I chose not to she also had a conversation with me about various forms of birth control. Yeah, I know--that part isn't very compatible with Catholicism. I waited until I was nearly 20; later I married him.

Now here's the thing; sometimes I think I got it backwards. Don't get me wrong, we love each other very much and we are happy. I'm just trying to point out a way the "wait until you're married" argument can backfire. Somehow I began to interpret that teaching to mean that I had to marry him because I'd had sex with him. In my case it turned out fine, but that may not always be true.

Posted by: Jen | April 19, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse


I was raised Jewish, but no longer believe in god. I just get sick and tired of certain groups getting extra special treatment. The stereotype of Catholic girls being sexually pent up and extra horny is exactly the same thing as the stereotype of Jews controlling the media. If you are going to ban one, then ban the other. It doesn't matter that you think it was amusing. Personally, I would like all viewpoints to not get banned as long as it is not vulgar. But if the moderator is going to censor, then I believe it is important to be consistent in their censorship.

Posted by: Mellish | April 19, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I guess wanted to respond to the person that feels that by waiting for marriage to have sex young people are setting themselves up for dissapointment due to unrealistic expectations. Speaking as someone who is waiting I don't have any overly romanticized notions about my wedding night or sex in general. I'm pretty knoweledge about my body and sex and inntimacy and I feel pretty good about my decision. Is it easy no, but sticking to your principles rarely is.

I guess what I want to get across is that I whole-heartedly support comprehensive sex education covering ALL options. But please let's not totally write off or belittle the option of waiting until one is older or even married as unrealistict.
There are young people out there just like me who really would like to wait and honestly there isn't a whole lot out there that supports that.

Just like we shouldn't leave those young people who choose to have sex without information and knowledge let's not ignore those who would like to know REALISTIC ways to wait until they are ready to have sex. It is not as uncommon as you think.

Posted by: Allie | April 19, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

"I teach my daughter that a person should only have sex with a partner if they both are willing to accept a child into their lives."

So if your daughter comes to you one day and see that she and her 17 yr old boyfriend are willing to accept the consequences of sex (a child) you'll be ok with this?

Posted by: MV | April 19, 2007 6:39 PM | Report abuse

I am just starting to talk to my daughter about the nitty-gritty of sex, which she thinks is kind of disgusting (she's 8). I don't want to make sex sound terrifying or disgusting. My plan is to encourage her to wait until she's ready and not to let the boy set the agenda. I also plan to talk with her about how sex with a boy or man changes your feelings toward him and gives him more emotional power over you, so be very judicious about to whom you give that power. I also plan to tell her that she should use a condom AND another method, such as foam...when you put two together, the risk of pregnancy is almost zero. Well, until she plans to get pregnant. When she goes off to college she might decide to go on the pill and that will be her decision.
I can't make decisions for her forever. I have to help her develop the self-confidence and judgement to make good decisions for herself.
If she's sexually active as an unmarried adult and is in healthy relationships with good men, I kind of see it as her business, not mine.

Posted by: Angela | April 19, 2007 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Yeah...some of y'all are scary and should be kept away from kids.

Someone said this is a result of liberal culture: um, do you think minority-hating Paris Hilton would ever vote Dem? Did the Bush twins come out saints? Yeah, don't throw around the liberal stone until the right wing stops getting called up on drug/corruption/male prostitute scandals.

And to the parents that want to scare their kids "straight": Deal with it. NO ONE waits until marriage, statistically speaking. Girls are even doing anal because they think it "doesn't count". Do you know how STUPID you're raising your kids to be just because you don't want to talk to them about something?

And for the drug's just stupid. No one has natural urges to do drugs when they're a kid. Its something they are given by an outside source. The desire for sex is felt at the onset of puberty. This isn't a matter of legal/illegal. This is a matter of physiology. You teach your kids why they are feeling all tingly in their naughty bits so they KNOW how to overcome it. If you don't feel like actually communicating with your offspring, hand them "What's Happening to My Body?"

My mother was raised in a solid Catholic home. Her entire sex education was a book called "Prayers to Purity" that told her that her "husband will reveal a wonderful secret on your wedding night". guess how well-adjusted my mother was in her early twenties?

Posted by: Kat | April 20, 2007 5:59 AM | Report abuse

I have a friend who went to an all girls Catholic school and they were told sex was only for procreation. But nobody told them what 'procreation' was.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 20, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

For those of you planning to wait until you're married to have sex, is this also a requirement of your future spouse? Meaning, that they have not had sex previously, and once you are in a committed relationship, you are both waiting until your wedding night?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 20, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse


Anti-Semetic implications aside, there were aspects to the original statement which I considered vulgar. I was glad when it was removed. The anti-Catholic post struck me as just plain ignorant, not vulgar, so I half-ignored it, but at the same time I was mildly amused by it, and it didn't matter to me one way or the other whether it was removed.

There's not much I actually take offense to, though, so I'm probably not the best person to make that evaluation, and I see your point. Thanks for looking out for me (albeit indirectly and unintentionally!).

Posted by: Jen | April 20, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

"For those of you planning to wait until you're married to have sex, is this also a requirement of your future spouse? Meaning, that they have not had sex previously, and once you are in a committed relationship, you are both waiting until your wedding night?"

I'll answer this, in case the poster checks back in. For me (and for my siblings and friends who have waited/are waiting), it wasn't a requirement, but rather a hope. I think we all know it is unlikely that, especially as we got older, we would meet people who had also been waiting for marriage - just because the statistics weren't in our favor. As long as the couple was in agreement about their own relationship (committed to waiting until (if) they were married, and valuing chastity), though, then this would have been all right even if a little bit hard. In my own case (and for several of my friends) we were fortunate to find spouses who also were committed to waiting until marriage. Part of it depends on where you meet people - Catholic youth groups and ND alumni clubs have higher percentages, I think, of people who are likely to value waiting until marriage!

Posted by: KAL | April 23, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Also wanted to answer in case anyone checks back in. I have to agree with KAL's response. No the person I marry does not have to be a virgin also. I know the odds of that are pretty slim the older I get. As long as they respect my feelings on the issue and value our waiting until we are married to have sex, that would be fine. Everyone has a past of some kind. What really matters is the future and how you choose to approach it.

Posted by: Allie | April 23, 2007 5:23 PM | Report abuse

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