Abstinence Will Not Be The Sex Talk I Give My Kids

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I was given the abstinence sex talk. Sex was bad. It was dirty. It was not to happen while I was living under the roof of my parents. Not only would my parents kill me, but it was a sin. It was a sin so much so that I truly believed if I did have sex outside of marriage, I had to stay with that person forever. 

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Did the fear of my parents, of God, or forever stop me from having sex? Nope. Did abstinence sex education stop my peers? Nope. Were my fellow Christians able to abstain from sex before marriage? Nope.  

Before I delve into why abstinence will be not the sex talk I give my kids, let me start by giving you the facts. You can also find them HERE:

  • According to the NCBI, the U.S. government has funded an abstinence-only sex education program in the school for more than a decade.
  • 72.2 out of 1,000 teenage girls (aged 15-19) in the U.S. end up pregnant.
  • 18.8 out of 1,000 teenage girls (15-19) in Germany end up pregnant.
  • 11.8 out of 1,000 teenage girls (15-19) in the Netherlands end up pregnant.
  • The data clearly shows that abstinence-only education is ineffective in preventing teenage pregnancy and is possibly contributing to the high teenage pregnancy rates in the U.S.

The biggest reason abstinence is taught is to prevent pregnancy and STDs, but it seems to not be doing a very good job of it. So, on top of data, here are a few more reasons why I won’t be teaching abstinence to my kids.

Having the sex talk with our kids is never easy. But, here's why one mom has decided that abstinence is not the way to talk to our kids about sex. Here is one mom's argument for having a more real talk about sex with your kids. #sextalk #momlife #motherhood #parenting #parenthood #sexed #sexeducation #teens #teenagers

Abstinence Doesn’t Teach Safe Sex

Yes, I understand that the point of abstinence is so kids don’t have sex and don’t have to worry about being safe. However, that thinking is unrealistic. Teenagers are having sex, and an overwhelming amount of them are ending up with unwanted pregnancies or STDs. How many of you waited? I sure didn’t.

I didn’t learn how to protect myself from STDs or an unwanted pregnancy. Instead, I was told the only way to prevent that was not to have sex. I wasn’t taught that a condom could help prevent certain STDs. I wasn’t given resources to get birth control. Even though 90% of teens in my class were having sex, we aren’t given the tools to help protect ourselves.

Abstinence Doesn’t Teach Consent

Abstinence doesn’t teach you what consent really means. We don’t teach kids what consent is. It doesn’t teach our boys that they have to ask permission and get an absolute “Yes” before penetration. It doesn’t teach our girls that they can say no at any point in the process. It doesn’t teach our kids that they all have consent over their own bodies.

I never really knew how to give consent.

It wasn’t talked about. I didn’t realize the situation I was in until I was already in it. In fact, for years I thought it was ok that my husband was raping me in my sleep. I thought saying yes to being married gave him right over my own body even if it made me feel horrible.

It wasn’t ok because I did not give consent. I want my kids to know what consent really means. Not only did I not understand consent, but my husband didn’t either. He didn’t realize he was doing something wrong because we were married. It took many years of counseling, a separation, and a lot of communication for my husband and me to work this out. 

Abstinence Pushes Your Kids Away

If you give your kids the abstinence sex talk, they truly believe that if they have sex, they can’t talk to you about it. You aren’t teaching your kids that honesty and open communication are best, but that they can’t come to you when something does happen. It pushes them away, especially if once you have had the talk, they have already had sex.

I was terrified of my parents finding out I was having sex. I learned from others at school about condoms and where to get birth control. At one point, I lied to the doctor about being on birth control because my mom was in the room. The medication I needed for my severe allergy to Poison Ivy could have killed me with that birth control. But, I took that risk. I don’t want my daughter to do the same thing.

Abstinence Can Make Kids More Curious

The more taboo a subject is and less it is talked about, the more kids want to know about it. Instead of going to the parents with questions, they go to their peers. When their hormones start raging and all they can think about is the body of another, they go to their peers. Curiosity killed the cat, and it is very likely to take over a hormonal teen too.

I feel like the more I was told I couldn’t do something, the more I wanted to do it. Sex. Drinking. Drugs. Sneaking out. You name it I wanted to try it….just once. Instead of having open non-judgmental conversations with my parents, I went to my friends for advice. I don’t want my kids to go to their peers, I want them to come to me.

Pregnancy is Not a Punishment

Of course, you have hopes and dreams for your child before they have children of their own. It’s normal to want them to fulfill their own dreams. But, we have to stop teaching kids that pregnancy is a punishment. Children aren’t a punishment. It isn’t the end of the world. It may be a harder world, but it’s not the end.

I thought pregnancy would be a punishment for my sin. I was told that if I got pregnant before I graduated high school that I would be kicked out. It still didn’t stop me from having sex, but I still didn’t want to get pregnant. I thought pregnancy would ruin my life. I have 3 beautiful children now, and I don’t ever want any of them to think of them being here was a punishment or a mistake in my life.

Having the sex talk with our kids is never easy. But, here's why one mom has decided that abstinence is not the way to talk to our kids about sex. Here is one mom's argument for having a more real talk about sex with your kids. #sextalk #momlife #motherhood #parenting #parenthood #sexed #sexeducation #teens #teenagers

It Can Keep Kids in Unhealthy Relationships

Teaching abstinence makes kids feel like just because they had sex with someone that they can’t break up with that person. Many times a teen will stay in a verbally, physically, or emotionally abusive relationship out of fear of having sex with more than “the one” person God intended for them.

I know this all too well. I stayed with the first person I had sex with much longer than I should have. He wasn’t horrible to me, but he wasn’t “the one.” I stayed with him out of pure fear of having sex with another person. I knew it would be difficult to say No because my body said yes. I stayed in my marriage for the same reason even through emotional abuse.

Abstinence Doesn’t Prevent STDs

Even if your child has abstained from sex until he or she is married, it doesn’t mean the person they chose to marry did. In fact, men typically don’t have symptoms of STDs and won’t know they have it until a woman finds out. We teach our kids that as long as they don’t have sex, they won’t get STDs, but this isn’t the truth.

After my first partner, I went to Planned Parenthood. I got a pap, STD testing along with HIV and Hepatitis testing. I was clean of everything. With my 2nd partner, I was STD free through my entire pregnancy. I later discovered that I had Chlamydia….I later got Trichomoniasis….and HPV all from the same partner. I was utterly devastated. How was it that I had been for the most part abstinent and still ended up with STDs?

I’m not saying abstinence isn’t important. It is important that your kids know the only way not to have an unplanned pregnancy is abstinence. However, abstinence should not be the end all sex talk.

Sex needs to be talked about. It needs to be brought up. It needs to be something kids aren’t scared to talk to their parents about. You want them getting their information from you, not their peers!

What do you think about teaching abstinence? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

5 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t agree with everything you said in this article. What happened to you wasn’t completely your parents fault, especially the fact that their message was that they expected abstinence.
    I, also, was raised in a home that abstinence was the expectation, but it turns out it was never a hard line in the sand.
    What You don’t mention in your article is if you ever tried to talk to your parents? They were the same fault filled people doing the best job they knew how with the information they were given as we are today.
    Did you go to your mother when you were being abused in your marriage?
    I hear your side of the story through this whole article, but know nothing about her’s.
    I am going to be teaching my children abstinence, but at that won’t be the only part of the message. I am going to do to be best job I can with the information I have.
    Abstinence works when you are young. It gives you time to receive the information you need and learn who you are, before you throw another persons wants and needs into the mix.
    Abstinence works to give you time to get to know the person you are with. You have time to see red flags and chart a different course if you don’t follow your hormones into a sexual relationship before you should.
    I am not saying abstinence should be the only message, but I do feel it should be PART of the message.
    I know we cannot control what our children do when they are out of our eyesight, but they should know that saying “No, I’m not ready. No, this is too important and means too much for me to just scratch an itch with you.”
    I want my children to know they can come to me with anything. I feel my message needs to be balanced. I want them to make wise choices. Therefore, I want to know if abstinence is their CHOICE it should be part of the mix too, and a choice that is still available.

    • From the tone of the writing, the authors’ parents made their stance very clear to their child and left her with the lasting impression that their love and their care was conditional and the reality of her life could not be safely shared. If a person raises their child to know that love for them is conditional to their religious belief or their virginity it leaves lasting damage. The role of the parent is to make sure their children are healthy and safe and know their options, by all means educate your child on your religious values, by all means educate your child to wait as long as possible, but if you do not teach your child how to be safe, what consent means and that it’s never too late to say no you could be leaving your child open to be taken advantage of, get pregnant far too young, and open to STD’s or other unwanted lifelong consequences.

  2. I agree with you totally!! My kids will know know abstinence is not the only choice, I will not encourage them to have sex. I will however teach them about everything that comes along with sex especially consent. This was a good read, thanks!!

  3. Abstinence before marriage is biblical. It can be taught with a positive message; “God’s desire is that you save yourself for the person you will marry. God created and designed sex to be a beautiful, special, intimate act shared between a married man and woman. To save yourself for that special person brings honour and glory to God”. Ultimately, it is an individual choice and will be between them and God whatever they choose.

  4. Your article makes total sense if you don’t believe that extra-marital sex is morally wrong and unwise. I assume you are in that camp as well as the majority of your audience. I’m not judging you for that, just pointing out that probably the majority of parents who teach/plan on teaching their children abstinence do so because they believe it is wrong and unwise, not just “so kids don’t have sex and don’t have to worry about being safe.” as you say in your article.

    For the record, I abstained until marriage as did my wife, and while it wasn’t always easy, we’re both so glad we did. Many of our Christian friends and family can say the same. So in our experience, the notion of having the self-control to abstain probably doesn’t seem quite as foreign as it does to you in your experience.

    We believe that it is wrong to have sex outside of marriage. We believe that God created it as an amazing beautiful act to be shared by a man and a woman within the confines of marriage. And we believe that God’s designs are actually for our own good, so apart from it being a moral issue, we also believe the wisest choice in ANY manner is the choice that aligns with His designs as best as we can determine what those are. So we believe abstinence is both right and wise.

    With these conclusions in mind, how than can I NOT teach my child abstinence? Don’t we all agree that as parents we want to teach our children to make what we believe to be right and wise choices? We don’t hold off on teaching our children to abstain from lying, stealing, cheating, bullying, disobeying, disrespecting, being crude, etc just because we know they will probably do at least some of those things at some point anyway.

    We teach them what we believe to be the difference between right and wrong, wise and unwise, and why we believe it. Then we show them unconditional love regardless of the choices they make. For us it’s not about using the parent/child relationship to try to manipulate their behavior (as it sounds like perhaps your parents did), but rather trying to teach them what we believe will be best for them. We have a very open loving line of communication with our kids where nothing is taboo, and mistakes are met with grace. And through that line, we will be teaching them abstinence before marriage.

    Again, I am not intending this comment to come across as judgmental. I realize we are probably coming at the issue from two very different conclusions about extra-marital sex. I simply wanted to “share my thoughts” and provide a different perspective. If you believe something to be wrong and unwise, you do your best to teach your kids not to do it — all the more when you know what a strong temptation it will be. For those who don’t believe that extra-marital sex is wrong and unwise than I think your article is spot on.

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