Ever since I became an adult (even before I had my own kids), I have been a proponent of talking to your kids about alcohol, sex, drugs....whatever might affect them and cause them to make choices they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.
Today I watched "She's Too Young" on Lifetime that brought it all back to me. It was fiction but like many lifetime movies was based on a true story. It made me want to get back up on my soap box for a little while, so here it goes.
Parents are the biggest influence on their children, their lives, their choices today and in the future. If you start early, it opens the lines of communication for you to tell your child the truth about what is out there and instill in them your beliefs and why you believe them.
It was not that long ago when I was in middle school and high school. I mean it was 20 years ago, but I still wouldn't want to think of my children in some of the same places I was in....parties in the middle of fields with all kinds of things going on, places I ended up because that was where my friends went but I was so uncomfortable all I wanted to do was to go home, situations that could have ended up so much worse if just one little thing had changed.
And it is so much worse to day. Did you know that according to USA Today half of 15 year olds engage in oral sex on a regular basis and that they consider it to be the equivalent of kissing? 90% of teenagers will get drunk to the point of getting physically ill before they graduate from high school and many of those will happen before they even get to high school. 53% of the teenage population have tried illegal drugs and most of them tried something much worse than pot. Want to know something even more astonishing? 15% of children (and I say children because that is what they are) age 12 have engaged in one of the 3 types of sexual intercourse!
Kids are going to make bad choices. They are going to live their lives. They are going to rebel. But what we teach them now before they get to the point of hating us and ignoring us is what might make all the difference in the future.
I remember when I was newly married, I went to a bachelorette party at someone's house. It was completely innocent, but we played this game where everyone told how old they were when they lost their virginity. I was the only one who was out of high school. In fact, I was 21 years old and almost through with college, and my future husband was my partner. Everyone else was in high school and in some cases middle school when they had their first time. I wondered why, so I asked them how old they were when their mothers talked to them about sex. Of the 12 women sitting around the table that night, I was the only one whose mother had ever actually had a conversation with me about sex.
Could talking have affected my choice to abstain? I don't know. And I don't fool myself into believing that talking to my girls about sex or drugs or alcohol or whatever else will cause them to abstain from it. I pray it will, but I am trying to be realistic.
What I hope is that through my conversations with them they will come to trust me. They will know that I am there for them, and they will learn that even though I am "ancient" I did actually go through many of the same things they will. I hope they will see that actions have consequences and that we control our actions by the positions. friendships, and situations we put ourselves in. I hope that they know how special and precious they are and that every time they give part of themselves to a boy in any way sexually that they loose a little bit of that preciousness.
I am sure I will make plenty of mistakes, and I know they will. But the most important thing I can do is to start talking to them early and to talk to them often because I love them more than I could ever imagine and it is my responsibility to give them all the tools they need to live a safe, healthy, and happy life.