The new study doesn’t tell us why parents are so squeamish about talking to their children about sex. My guess is that the sexual revolution of the 60’s and 70’s left us with some truly confusing societal norms about human sexuality. On the one hand, we’ve spawned “the hook-up culture,” yet we’re still offended by promiscuity and infidelity. Where sex is concerned, our moral compass seems to spin without ever stopping on true north.
Of course, if parents are too embarrassed to talk to their children about sex – and to put sexual behaviors in the proper moral context – never fear. The media feeds our kids messages about sex thousands of times a day, according to one estimate. Who needs to endure an uncomfortable discussion with an eye-rolling 13-year-old when you can simply turn on the TV and watch commercials for birth control pills and sexual dysfunction remedies punctuating sit-coms about sexual threesomes? Everything you ever wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask is answered every night during the family hour.
Alternatively, as an answer to the dearth of information provided to adolescents by their parents, some would expand programs and policies that circumvent parental involvement. But distributing birth control and abortion counseling without parental consent ultimately does teens a huge disservice by impeding parents from fulfilling their responsibilities to their children.
It’s time for parents to question all our assumptions about what our children know and don’t know about sex, and to quit relying on the media and school-based health classes to educate them.
Teaching kids about sexual health and morality is a parent’s job. There’s nothing awkward about it.