6 Things I Learned When a 21-Year-Old Shared Her Regrets

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I wish I could tell you that every single student I’ve ever taught made the healthy decision to “pay now and play later” when it comes to love, sex, and relationships.

But I’d be lying.

They’re not ALL convinced that abstinence is the bestchoice for them. 

Or even a choice they believe they’re worthy of living up to.

Which was the case for a 21-year-old young lady who used to serve on the leadership team of an after-school club I worked with when she was in high school.  

The last time I spoke to her was before her high school graduation.

She called one day out of the blue and said she wanted to reach out to me a couple of years earlier, but couldn’t work up the courage to call until now. 

She was ashamed to admit she began having sex at 19 years old. 

And she was afraid I would be disappointed in her. 

As I listened to her talk about how she was parented and why she made the decision to have sex, I heard some very interesting things that I would like to share with you:

1. Children need rules and want high expectations.

Her parents had very few rules and very low expectations for her when she was in high school. 

The only requirement my parents had for me was to make good grades. As long as I was making good grades, I could do anything else I wanted to do, including having sex or staying out late. You name it; I could do it, as long as my grades were good! Auntie Jackie, you had higher expectations of me than my own parents. 

The absence of rules at her house made her frightened for her little sister who was in high school at the time. 

Her sister had been making some really poor decisions in a number of areas, including sex. 

Even though I still made good decisions in high school (for the most part), without my parents having any rules, boundaries or high expectations, that kind of parenting isn’t working for my sister because our personalities are totally different. Another difference between my choices and her choices is that she doesn’t have anyone outside of the family like I had (you and the REAL Majority Club), to guide her toward the best decisions for her life. 

The young lady said she tried to set boundaries for her sister, but it’s difficult to override what their parents were letting her sister get away with.

The moral of this story?

Don’t be afraid to set rules and expectations for your daughter. 

She may not like them, but she’ll appreciate them (and you) in the long run. 

2. Divorce doesn’t just affect small children.

The young lady’s parents divorced shortly after she graduated high school and she was devastated. 

I guess my parents thought that I would be able to handle the divorce since I was out of high school; but it really threw me for a loop. The divorce had a lot to do with why I started having sex. I was depressed and looking for attention.

I talk a lot in my classes about sex often being used as medication for pain. 

This young lady is unfortunately another example of this being true, even beyond high school. 

I know teens often hide what they’re going through from their parents, but please pay attention to your daughter’s pain.

Before she turns to “medication” she can’t handle.

3. The higher the “sex-pectations” the deeper the regrets.

Even though the young lady was a virgin when she graduated high school, she still regrets her decision to start having sex at 19 years old:

If I were given the opportunity to go back and change one thing in my life, I would choose to still be a virgin. Most people would think I’d choose something else because I’ve had a lot of things that have gone wrong in my life. But, I don’t regret anything more than I regret my decision to have sex.

Sex did not make her life better as she was expecting.

And it certainly didn’t make the pain go away. 

Girls don’t understand that what you expect to get from sex never happens. But you get a lot of things that you never expected to get. I was looking for it to fill a void and it never did. I would go back to my house and cry myself to sleep after having had sex.

This is something your daughter needs to know so she can manage her “sex-pectations.”

4. Making a difference matters.

One reason she called me was to ask what she needed to do to start a club in the state where she now lives, like the one she was a part of in high school. 

I’m really tired of the life I am living and the other day I realized I was the happiest when I participated in the REAL Majority club in high school. Knowing that I was making a difference in someone else’s life and I was a part of something positive was the best feeling in the world. I want to feel that way again. 

I agree with her 100%. 

There is no greater feeling in the world than knowing you’ve made a difference in someone else’s life. 

It’ll help build your daughter’s character AND boost her self-confidence.  

And as I’ve said before, that’s priceless!

5. Faith makes a difference!

What seemed to be missing with the message she heard in high school was the faith component. 

I know you couldn’t discuss God in the schools, but that would have really helped me keep my commitment because that is now what is keeping me on the right track.

Studies have shown that a teen’s faith really does make a difference in his/her choices regarding sex. 

So, if you’re a person of faith, don’t be afraid to share your values with your daughter. 

Just remember: No judging. No preaching.

6. No seed is planted in vain.

I am slowly learning not to feel defeated when I hear that a former student has made decisions I’ve tried to get them to avoid. 

Instead of feeling defeated after talking with this young lady, I was encouraged because of something she said at the very end of the conversation:

I’ve never stopped thinking about you and all that you taught me; and I always knew if I couldn’t trust anyone else in life, I could always trust Auntie Jackie to guide me in the right direction. So, I knew I had to reconnect with you.

(Note: This young lady is not my niece. A number of the students on the leadership team called me Auntie Jackie).

Even when the seeds I plant don’t prevent students from making a poor decision, I am grateful that the seeds are always there to guide them back to the path to greatness. 

And that’s especially true for you Mom!

When it seems like your daughter’s not listening, don’t give up!

Your planting is NOT in vain. 

Those are the six things I learned from my phone call with a former student who regretted having sex after hearing me speak.

What are your takeaways from this post? 

I look forward to reading your thoughts below. 😊

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