Saturday, April 14, 2007

Your Moment of Zen

WASHINGTON -- Students who took part in sexual abstinence programs were just as likely to have sex as those who did not, according to a study ordered by Congress.

Also, those who attended one of the four abstinence classes that were reviewed reported having similar numbers of sexual partners as those who did not attend the classes. And they first had sex at about the same age as other students -- 14.9 years, according to Mathematica Policy Research Inc.
These programs have cost the American people roughly $170 million each year since the Christofascist regime that is the Bush administration took office. A billion bucks and no difference.


Kids are kids. Hormones are hormones. And study after study has told us that roughly 90% of Americans had sex before marriage, going back to the 40s. When it wasn't uncommon for teens to marry.

Meaning teens had sex, too, even back when white men were king, and blacks and women were oppressed.

That was the backdrop for the sex educaction programs implemented in my youth: people were going to screw, so you might as well soldier up and try to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

"No! No!," said the Pollyannaists. "We can't encourage sex!" What? Of the remaining nine percent? How idiotic is that?

Kids are kids. Hormones are hormones. Those same hormones that make your teenager slam his door in your face when you remind him to do homework are the same hormones at play when he's in the back seat of the family Buick with Dora, the easy cheerleader.

And those same hormones that make Dora "borrow" your lip gloss are the same hormones that put her in the Buick in the first place.

Teens have the toughest job in America, I think: they aren't treated like adults, yet they're expected to act like them. Only they can't drink or smoke or have sex. Imagine having to live your life like that. I bet you couldn't, so why do we expect teens to be any different? Discipline, in fact, comes with age.

I've tried to treat my kid as an adult, ever since she was nine months old and was speaking full sentences (it runs in the family, this articulation). I've had to balance that at times with understanding that some concepts are too difficult for her to grasp at a particular age, but I haven't lied to her when that's occurred: "your brain is not yet developed enough to get this, but...."

Have I been more successful at preventing her from having sex? Don't know. More important, don't care. I DO know that she has access to condoms, without asking for them, from both parents. I do know she's not pregnant (as of this writing).

I was a sophmore in college at her age, and had already been falling down drunk, had sex, smoked pot, smoked cigarettes, fallen in love, fallen out of love, two times, and held a steady job while attending classes.

OK, the "attending classes" bit I could have been more diligent about, but I turned out OK.

But I turned out OK despite this whole rigamarole of trying to dress up like an adult while acting and being treated like a child. So my message to parents everywhere?

Fuggedaboutit! Just help your teen take the precautions that you would on a dangerous trip down the river of life and things will work out.

Abstinence may make the heart grow fonder, but it softens no wood.