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The GEM Debate: Is Abstinence Really Realistic?

Oh boy – where do we start with this one!

Over the weekend a friend linked to a blog written by a pastor’s wife. My friend called it an excellent, must read for parents. So being a parent myself I took a look…

Wow – there’s a lot to digest here. The author basically talks about her daughters and how they’re forbidden from dating and must save themselves for marriage.

My initial reaction was an eye roll and an “oh brother” but the more I thought about this “strategy” of courtship versus dating, the angrier I got. Here’s why:

TRUST: For me this way of thinking says that you don’t trust your kids or have faith in the way you raised them. My job as a parent is not only to protect Casey and Cole it is also to prepare them for life. So while they are young, I impart the information and wisdom I have and then I TRUST that they will use it to make the best decisions.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: High school is a microcosm of life and the things we experience there will stay with us for the rest of our lives, both good and bad. The kids who had overprotective parents turned out one of two ways, they either rebelled and became the baddest of the badasses; smoking, drinking and sleeping with any warm-blooded mammal they could find OR they were socially stunted, unable to make a single move without consulting mom and dad.

Kids need to hone their social skills without looking to mom and dad, sitting next to them nodding in silent approval. Making decisions on their own also teaches kids who to trust, again, no small lesson.

MARRYING TOO YOUNG: This is the part that really chaps my butt because you know who’s gonna get a raw deal in this? Women. Because if you start your daughter “courting” at say 16 and she meets THE GUY (family approved) from her relatively small circle (church, surrounding neighborhood, high school), then what? The family urges her not to wait, “go ahead, get married you can still go to college.” She’ll have a decent shot at finishing too, if she doesn’t get sidetracked by a family-urged pregnancy or financial crisis that causes her to drop out. “Oh you can go back when we have more money.” Will that be before the second, third maybe even fourth baby comes?

Under this strategy, the girl will have gone right from her father’s home, to her husband’s home, to becoming a mother, without a stop to figure out what she wants to do and who she wants to be. As someone who believes that life is about learning, growing and changing, this sounds a little too Stepford wife-like for me. Then at 40, she wakes up one morning and realizes her life is half over and she’s spent it all living for everyone else. Now THAT is tragic. I’m not saying it will happen that way for everyone; surely there are some who would be thrilled to have that kind of existence. But I would chain myself to the front of the church naked, if either of my kids said they were getting married at 18.

Will this courtship strategy keep your kids from an unwanted pregnancy? Maybe, but where there’s a will there’s a way so even this plan isn’t foolproof. Wouldn’t a better, more realistic strategy be to educate your kids in what you believe and expect and then, instead of being a safety harness holding them in place, loosen the grip, even just a little bit, and let them learn to fly?

Okay so let’s debate this. Is abstinence really realistic in 2011? What are you teaching your kids? And are your children banned from dating?

Lemme hear ya!

More in The GEM Debate

Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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