In Which I Really Don’t Know What Kind of Parent I Would Be, Nobody Ever Does Until They Are One

On the way home today the local sports radio station cut out around the state line so I couldn’t listen to Minor League baseball anymore. The NPR station wasn’t doing anything I was interested in, so instead I went to the local talk radio station, the one I talked about a couple posts ago. The host was talking about the recent North Carolina House ruling that allows parents to have more options regarding sex education for their kids in public schools. Basically, the new law lets parents pick standard sex ed, abstinence-only sex ed, or no sex ed at all.

All the callers and the host pretty much threw out the “no sex-ed at all” option, and I think rightly so. Pulling your kid out of those classes would single out the kid for a lot of ridicule, and that’s never a good thing when middle-school students can be so cruel. Most of the callers, which would be expected in the Bible Belt, said they’d go for the abstinence-only option. That’s fine with me, parents should have that options if they want it, even though I don’t think abstinence-only education works.

But this one caller, man… she homeschools her daughter and told one of the craziest stories I’ve heard in a while. When the daughter was 8 or 9, the mom gave her this option: they’d either give her “the talk” then or she could wait until the night before her wedding and they’d give her the talk then. The daughter said she didn’t need to know about sex then so she’d wait until she got married. So now the daughter is 23 years old and apparently, if the mother is to be believed, doesn’t know how sex works. The mom said the daughter doesn’t know the whole process of how it all works.

The mom couched all of this in religious language I’ve heard all my life, a lot of husband-and-wife/loving relationship stuff, the normal Christian buzzwords when it comes to talking about sex.  And you know, whatever, if abstinence is the way you’re going to teach your kids that’s fine with me. But it seems like the height of parental irresponsibility to keep your daughter so sheltered. I think part of a parent’s job is to prepare your kids for a life out in the world, to give them wisdom and knowledge and common sense and all that. And it seems like that mom is totally failing in that part of her job.

I’m going to come at this from my Christian point of view for a minute: I think having a kid is literally the most spiritual thing a person can do. Two people create a new life, allowed to play God for a moment, and given the responsibility of watching over and protecting the child the way we hope some higher power watches over us. It is the closest we can get to our God on earth. But it seems like we are not to just shelter our children. God did not shelter Adam and Eve, it did not shelter its son Jesus, and it did not shelter us now. We as a human race are constantly given love, acceptance, forgiveness, and guidance, but we are always free to make our own decisions. Some higher power has allowed us that freedom. It seems obvious that we as parents should do the same for our kids.

You’re right, I don’t know what kind of parent I’m going to be. Maybe I’ll see my child’s beautiful face for the first time and immediately promise myself to keep the outside world away from it. But I hope not.

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