Bristol Palin, Teen Pregnancy, and Sex Education

What did your parents tell you about sex? And teen pregnancy? And what you are worth?

I’ve had different talks with different people, and virtually no information at all from school, but I really like the message in this article. It’s directed to moms and not kids, but that has never stopped me before.

As news of Bristol Palin’s breakup with fiancĂ© Levi Johnston fans the flames of the never-ending debate about sex education, my thoughts keep turning to Sarah. I wonder if she wishes she could go back and do things differently. Would she offer something in addition to abstinence education? Will she change what she says to Willow and Piper?

As a mother, I think about what I will tell my young daughter about the millions of teenagers like Bristol Palin who get pregnant before they’re ready. What will I be able to say to prevent her from joining the statistics?

And when I start imagining "the talk" we’ll have, I realize that very little of it will actually have to do with sex. It will be more about the need for self confidence, an inner strength and the ability to say no to things she isn’t ready to do, to not want to please someone so badly that she’ll do something she knows is risky to earn or keep their love – whether that’s to have unsafe sex, to take drugs or to stay with someone who demeans or abuses her.

The author also talks about relationship violence and manipulation when she speculates:

I don’t know Bristol Palin, but I imagine her getting pregnant had something to do with rumors of Levi cheating, with her wanting to win him/keep him/prove her love to him. And when they were in the moment with nary a condom to be found, she didn’t stop him because she didn’t want him to stop loving her.

I could be very wrong, but from my experience – from years of scares I shared with friends, the hands I’ve held as pregnancy tests were taken in school bathroom stalls, the fingers that were crossed, willing periods to come, that’s what it was about. None of them got THAT lost in the heat of passion that she didn’t consider the lack of contraception and what might happen. None of them just didn’t have access to contraception. They just considered more strongly the repercussions of stopping the act. They took a risk for affection.

I actually think that she’s wrong and that plenty of kids don’t know enough about condoms. Not enough facts anyway.

But the part of the article that really made me think was this:

If I do, I’ll explain how badly I wanted someone to love me because I didn’t love myself. I was young, insecure, and I wanted to know that someone wanted me. I didn’t want to stop when he was finally showing me that he wanted me; I didn’t want to be the uptight one who insisted on protection. Someone else would readily take my place; I wasn’t that special.

I want my daughter to know that she is THAT special. I’ll tell her all about sex and that I hope she waits until she’s older, in a monogamous relationship and all of the other things I’m supposed to say.

How is she going to convince her daughter of that? And help her daughter believe it even when she’s around her boyfriend? I’d like to see what her daughter writes in a few years.

What do people teach boys about this?

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