On the way home tonight I heard a radio ad funded by the department of health, suggesting that parents should talk to their kids and give them a clear message that they should wait until marriage to have sex.
Well, that's just a splendid message from an administration that apparently wants abortion rates in this country to climb, because research shows that's what follows from abstinence-only education, which this would be a form of. And what really tears me, is that it's not what I want kids to hear. That is to say:
I do not want you to wait until you're married to have sex.
Wait, yes, but not necessarily for that.
I decided to post this tonight in case it says something people want to say to their kids but are uncomfortable bringing up. Feel free to point them here, or copy anything here to another forum. Comments are screened, and young people are welcome to ask me questions.
So. About sex. Is waiting important? YES. So if waiting for marriage isn't important, what am I waiting for?
Well, you're waiting for a variety of reasons, and they aren't the same for everyone. Primarily, you want to wait until you are ready. Until you feel ready, and have a partner you can trust. Among other things, you want to trust both yourself and your partner enough that if you get most of the way there, and you're all naked and worked up and everything and yet you suddenly realize you aren't ready, that will be okay, and you can stop, and you'll find other ways to enjoy each other until you are ready.
One of the first things to think about is the fact that sex leads to pregnancy, and you ought to really absorb that idea and that risk before you decide to try it. You've probably heard this a thousand times, but it's hard to really take it in until you do something like spend a year working side-by-side with a wonderful 50-year-old woman who's still getting minimum wage because she got pregnant and never graduated from high school. And you note that she put her first child up for adoption, yet it still kept her from graduating.
Pregnancy will have a huge impact on you whether it's you or your partner who is pregnant, whether you keep the baby or lose it--and that is not an impact you want to deal with when you're not yet out of junior high or high school.
Are there ways to avoid getting pregnant? Well, there are tools for lowering the odds. But that's all they are, short of actually removing your ability to reproduce. If used correctly, condoms lower the odds of pregnancy to where about 3 out of a hundred couples using condoms for a year will still get pregnant that year (if they were using no protection, 60 to 70 of those couples would wind up pregnant in a year). Would you bet on those odds? If you're using only condoms for protection, that's what you're doing. Birth control pills and other hormone treatments lower the odds significantly farther. If you want to know more about this talk to Planned Parenthood. It's what they're there for -- go on in, they won't bite. Or ask here.
But birth control pills or not, you should always use condoms, because of the other big risk out there (besides getting in trouble with older relatives of you or your beloved who catch you and think you're jumping the gun, I mean), which is STDs. Sexually transmitted diseases. If you're thinking of getting sexually active, you should think about getting vaccinated for HPV. In a couple years hopefully there will be a Herpes vaccine too. But the main thing you should do is educate yourself, and then talk frankly with potential partners about safety, well before you get in the mood and in a situation where you might have sex. Get stocked with the protection you want, and make sure you agree in advance about using it.
That part up above about needing a partner you can trust? That includes someone you can trust to care about you enough to use protection.
Does sex feel as good with condoms and all that as with bare skin? Well, it feels different, and for some people not as good. But that's okay. It still feels pretty awesome (though it may not feel really awesome right away -- don't worry, it takes some people years to have their first powerful orgasm. Relax and explore all the kinds of touch you like and something will click eventually. And don't be afraid to use lubricants to help with the feeling good--damage from friction is not very fun, and fully avoidable). Some condoms are actually designed to make sensations more intense than without them on, which some people like too. As for skin-on-skin genital contact, save that for marriage or a similar committed relationship that is ready to take on the risk of pregnancy or shared STD.
Before sex, make sure you explore a lot. No need to rush! Look in each others' eyes. Kiss. Now kiss each others' fingers, elbows, knees and toes. Giggle. Take your clothes off. Look. Touch. Ask. Our bodies, ourselves. Our bodies are amazing, but they don't have to stay mysterious until marriage. Between now and then, though, respect and care for yourself. Trust yourself. If you aren't ready, don't let anyone tell you you ought to be, to rush you into something that isn't safe. Do this in your own good time. If that's not until marriage, that's nothing to be ashamed of, either. Ask yourself if you're ready. Wait until you're at peace with that question. --And with each new partner, ask yourself if this is something you want to do with them. Then, ask your partner. Don't be afraid to talk about sex, especially between the two of you. Talk about safety, talk about caring, and talk about fun. Then have some. With care. When you're ready.
Oh, and should you talk to your parents about it? I encourage you to try. But if that's uncomfortable or unproductive, consider talking to another adult first. Or go watch the Midwest Teen Sex Show and join the discussion there. One way or another, talk.
--Pump up the Volume