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Talking With Your Kids About Sexual Integrity

Mercy Hospital Provides a Local Resource for Parent/Child Communication.

You are invited to an event that provides an atmosphere of love and learning to discuss fertility and to promote communication between mother/daughter and father/son.

An Afternoon Program for Mothers & Daughters The mother/daughter programs are presented by registered nurses, a physician and joined by teens on a panel for questions and answers. The programs emphasize respect, understanding and appreciation for God’s gift of sexuality, as well as age-appropriate information on the function of the female reproductive system. Register Now for programs offered on:

  • October 9, 2016 from 1:00-3:30 (10-12 yr/old)
  • February 26, 2017 from 1:00-3:30 (10-12 yr/old)
  • April 2, 2017 from 1:00-3:30 (13-17 yr/old)

Father/Son: Boys Into Men Programs. The father/son programs provide an atmosphere of love and learning to discuss fertility and to promote communication between father and son. The programs are presented by a father, a physician and joined by teens on a panel for questions and answers. The programs emphasize respect, understanding and appreciation for God’s gift of sexuality, as well as age-appropriate information on the function of the male reproductive system. Register Now for programs offered on:

  • October 23, 2016 from 1:00-3:30 (11-12 yr/old)
  • November 6, 2016 from 1:00-3:30 (13-17 yr/old)
  • March 19, 2017 from 1:00-3:30 (11-12 yr/old)
  • October 15, 2017 from 1:00-3:30 (13-17 yr/old)

What is lifelong sexual integrity and how can parents pass that value onto their children?

Sex in the context of integrity is a positive expression of giving love to another person and not meant to be just another recreational sport. Sex in the context of a lifelong commitment of companionship, marriage and family is the model to strive for. The definition of integrity is:

  1. The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness, a moral compass that doesn’t waiver.
  2. The state of being whole and undivided.

So, integrity as a form of being undivided means integrity in all areas of life or at least making that the standard to strive to attain. In the context of sexuality, it means recognizing that sex isn’t just about me and my desire of pursuing gratification until the other person consents. Instead, sex is about giving oneself in the context of a lifelong relationship. That relationship has other aspects beyond the sexual act, beyond seeking one’s own pleasure such as honesty, kindness, compassion, sacrifice, honoring another person, enjoying who that person is and enjoying what qualities that person brings out in you.

Multiple studies have shown that young people engaging in sexual activity is not a healthy choice.

  • Early sexual activity among adolescents has a higher probability of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and HPV.
  • The younger a girl has her first act of sexual intercourse, the greater the chance that she has had involuntary or forced sex.
  • More that 66% of sexually experienced teens express regrets and wish they had waited. (Albert,B (2007). With One Voice 2007. Washington, DC: the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. (Source: Taken from http://www.thenaea.org/docs/Abstinence-Works.pdf)

So how do we communicate the precious value of sexual integrity within the context of a committed relationship?

The Values of Sexual Integrity

Sexuality is at the core of our identity and which direction our children choose can affect the trajectory of their lives.

  1. Sex with integrity means giving very personal, intimate parts of yourself to another person. That is precious. If private things such as sex become public or casual, powerful destructive emotions of shame and regret can follow suite.
  2. Sexual integrity is a healthy plan. Sexual experimentation is harmful: it often brings emotional pain, transfer of diseases (some of which are deadly) and pregnancy.
  3. Sexual behaviors lead to sexual intercourse. If it has the word “sex” in it, it IS sex and carries the same as or heightened dangers of sexual intercourse. So anal sex…oral sex…these are societal definitions of sexual activity and bring the same emotional and health-related risks as sexual intercourse.
  4. Sex in the context of a lifelong commitment is meant to be one of several ways to serve each other’s needs and give joy and pleasure to another person. Sex should not be about getting, it should be about giving, loving and enjoying. That is best done in the context of a lifelong commitment of marriage.
  5. Sexual activity with integrity isn’t about giving consent because it’s about withholding your right to ask to protect that other person from the pressure of saying “no”. That might sound confusing. We are often told sex is about consent (“Well, I kept asking her and one night she said YES. So it’s not my fault she feels bad about it now.”) That puts the pressure on the person being asked. Is that what a loving, caring, giving relationship is about? Pressuring somebody to say yes?
  6. There are lots of ways to trip up our sexual expectations (believing everyday media representations in movies & music, viewing pornography, objectifying the opposite sex based on their “hot” factor) so we must be mindful of what we see and what our children see. Children look to their parents to both protect their heart through vigilance and they look to parents to show them joy in relationships.
  7. We live in a hyper-sexualized age. Our culture is saturated with sexual innuendo, sex as a tool. In an American Academy of Pediatrics document on Media, Kids & Sex (2001):
    1. Numerous studies illustrate television’s powerful influence on an adolescent’s sexual attitudes, values & beliefs. (p 14, 24-36)
    2. In film, television and music, sexual messages are becoming more explicit in dialogue, lyrics and behavior. Too often, these messages contain unrealistic, inaccurate and misleading information that young people accept as fact. (p. 27)
    3. American media are thought to be the most sexually suggestive in the Western Hemisphere. The average American adolescent will view nearly 14,000 sexual references per year, yet only 165 of these references deal with birth control, self-control, abstinence or the risk of pregnancy or STDs.

Talking with Your Kids

Many good resources exist online to help educate parents about sensitive subjects. These resources can help parents feel comfortable talking to their kids about sex within the larger context of family and cultural values. Although it’s hard to believe, young people want their parents input on difficult subjects such as sex. By being transparent that parents don’t have all the answers and talking to the heart of the issue rather than a series of do’s and don’ts, a conversation on this topic has the potential to open dialogue with teens in other areas. Check out these resources to get you started:

 

 

 

 

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