Monday, April 06, 2009

What Common Ground Looks Like

I'm just back from talking with somewhere between 400 and 500 parents in Hamilton, Ontario, about my latest book What Every 21st Century Parent Needs to Know and how to help their young people make healthy, moral, ethical sexual decisions.

The event was sponsored by the Sexual Health Network, a coalition of organizations chaired by the director of programs for the Catholic diocese of Hamilton, and includes members of the public health program, the schools and abstinence-only groups. They've joined together for a "Worth the Wait" program, encouraging high school age teens to delay getting involved in sexual activity.

I spoke for over an hour and answered questions for 45 minutes. I talked about why it is important for parents to give their teens their own family values about when it might be appropriate to have mature sexual behaviors of any kind; I talked about my CUHMP (the five criteria for a moral sexual relationship and the three variables that determine them); and I talked about the need to give young people "mixed messages" about sexual behaviors just like we do on drinking: in essence, we don't want you to and if you do, we want you to protect your life and future. I encouraged parents to think about what they really mean when they ask their teens to abstain (from what? until when?) and to be explicit in communicating with them.

The other "A" word never came would have if someone had asked me how to approach a teen who tells you that she is pregnant, but my message was PREVENTION and PARENTING, and because my emphasis is on helping parents give THEIR (not MY) values to their children and teens, it was well received.

Dinner with the woman from the Catholic diocese was a balm for me after these past few days of people trying to paint me into a corner. There IS common ground on reducing teenage pregnancies and teenage sexual behaviors -- just as there IS common ground on supporting low income women who choose to have (more) children and not have social, medical or economic barriers to doing so.

Based on the one-on-one conversations I had with people after the talk tonight, I'm confident that I helped a lot of people think about how they might be more effective parents, especially around the areas of sex, alcohol and drugs. Despite that it's now going on 15 hours since I left home, it also helped me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't you book title be a link to is that being too commercial for the INSTITUTE?