I think we miss the boat when we spend so much time talking to teens about sex when the better conversation is one about “love!”
When a young lady tells me she has sex in order to show her boyfriend how much she loves him (which is one reason high school girls give me for having sex), I immediately think that she needs a lesson in “Love-Ed” –a term coined by another student. And my response to her is:
“What are you going to do to show yourself how much you love YOU? You have to love yourself first before you can really love anyone else.
When you love YOU, you don’t make decisions that could jeopardize your chances of reaching your dreams and goals. When you really love others, you don’t let them make decisions that are harmful to them either.
What is more important than showing your boyfriend how much you love him is showing yourself and others how much you love and respect YOU!”
When you can get a young lady to understand what true love really means and how to love herself, she will also realize the best way to show her boyfriend that she loves him is by doing what is BEST for him (and sex is never what is best for either of them at their age).
“I just want to thank you for coming to the school and opening my eyes…I’ll be honest, I wasn’t about to give up sex when I first saw you. I didn’t believe you had anything new to say that I haven’t heard. But the second day you came in, you said one thing that threw me: ‘If you really loved him/her, you’d do what was best for him/her.’ And you are right. I love my boyfriend, and I want the best for him. I want him to succeed, and I refuse to be the reason that he doesn’t. So I texted him and told him I wanted to stop having sex, and he agreed. He said, ‘You’re right, and God won’t bless our relationship or marriage if we’re skipping steps.’ So, thank you so much for saving me from myself.”
When teens trivialize sex by taking it out of context and making it the only way to express love it is like taking fire out of a fireplace and setting it in the middle of a table…it can be hazardous. It can also be emotionally detrimental and promote physically risky behavior. We must help teens understand that sex does not equal love.
But are we not doing the same thing, trivializing sex, when we focus our educational efforts on simply teaching teens how to avoid pregnancies and STDs rather than having discussions with them about what it means to love themselves and others?
As a matter of fact, following is confirmation from a student that focusing on love instead of sex is a more effective way to change teens’ behavior:
“I thoroughly enjoyed your class. While other classes were driven primarily by ‘use condoms,’ your principles were much more effective. It seemed like more of a ‘love-ed’ class, rather than a course focused primarily on sex. Thanks for a new point of view on relationships.”
Hmmm, maybe I should change my title to “Love-Ed Teacher!”
What can parents do?
1. Share the information in this post with your daughter.
2. Commit to having the LOVE conversation with your daughter along with the SEX conversation, if not before.
3. Model the behavior. Show your daughter what loving herself and others looks like.
What type of education did you receive from your parents? If the conversation had been about love rather than sex, would you have made different decisions about sex?
Note: The reason I only refer to girls in the above post is that this is the third part in my “Teens Tell All: Top 20 Reasons Why Teens DO and DON’T Have Sex” blog series where the focus is about high schools girls. The above principles also apply to boys, and I will have a future post specifically about high school boys.