6 Benefits of Teaching Your Daughter Abstinence | Sex Education
Abstinence Over Safe Sex - An Option to Promote?
"Tis chastity, my dear brother, chastity: she that has that is clad in complete steel."
- John Milton
As Parents, We Want to Protect Our Kids in All Stages of Growth
The Value of Teaching Abstinence Around (Later) Middle School
As a girl, I was taught that abstinence was a value to be cherished, well over the principles of practicing safe sex. This take on sex education began as early as I can remember in small ways (my dad would joke that he used to try to kiss my mom before they were married, but that she would never let him), but probably most officially, somewhere around the age of late middle school or early high school. I feel that advocating the benefits of abstinence as a moral value was unequivocally one of the greatest lessons my parents ever taught me and helped me in many ways, to succeed in life. I know it can still do the same for many kids out there today.
Kids Need Boundaries and Beliefs
Along the same principle of kids needing boundaries, abstinence gives youths added motivation to say no to actions they may not really be comfortable with. By giving your young daughters a value to fall back upon, to believe in, and guide them, I feel that promoting abstinence and the concept of chastity allows them to decide on right judgement actions when situations get sticky, as explained in the Why Promote Abstinence video below.
Why Promote Abstinence?
- According to the CDC, almost 34% of kids in high school have sex and of these, almost 77% do not use any form of contraception.
- Additionally, we know that 400,000 American girls gave birth to babies in 2009, aged 15-19. These are just the pregnancies we know about.
- 19 million people contracted STD’s, with half being aged 15-24.
- 8,300 kids aged 13-24 contracted HIV in 2009.
Abstinence - Still A Relevant Option?
I know some people believe that abstinence is not possible for teens in today’s world. I just think that is simply untrue! What is wrong with teaching your children at a fairly young age (depending on the child) the value that sex is something sacred and that waiting for the person that they will love forever is a best practice ideal? At the very least, teaching them to wait to engage in sexual activity until an age where they can do so with maturity, is a desirable goal.
I feel that ingraining this belief of saving yourself, and choosing partners that respect this value as well, into your child’s belief system can truly have a positive impact on their experiences in coming years. Because let’s face it, “love” relationships in middle and high school, can be really difficult to handle - and even be sources of great stress.
By teaching young girls especially (because they have the most to lose from engaging in more adult experiences) beginning in their tweens and early teens that what they do with their body is their choice and that it is a decision to be guarded with great care, you can set them on a path for less difficulty regarding many challenges they can potentially face growing up. I also firmly believe that the conviction of abstinence when practiced and valued, is not something that peers look down upon, but that they will actually grow to respect about your child… and may even feel more able to emulate in their own lives (see video Young Men and Chastity at the bottom of the page).
Love and Innocence Start From the Earliest Notions
Abstinence Is A Safest Route Protection for Young Women
“I am not saying that abstinence will not be something your daughter will have to defend many a time and insist upon, but it isn’t something that will make her the odd one out.”
What Exactly Is Abstinence?
Abstinence, for those readers that may not be familiar, is the belief that you should not have sex until you are in a true committed relationship. Whether or not this personal choice is taken right up to the moment of marriage or whether it is utilized for most of one’s youth, it ensures that young women (and young men) will not make some of the mistakes that can cause them great pain and difficulty during adolescence and into early adulthood. According to articles like Sexual Risk Behavior at the Centers for Disease Control Website, almost 34% of kids in high school are having sex and of these, almost 77% are not using contraceptives. It is no wonder that being active at this age brings with it complex emotions and complex repercussions in many cases. Taking such dangers off the table for your young daughters, I feel, is doing them a great justice in so far as protecting them from many forms of harm that teens today must struggle with, too young. By showing your children that you care about this value and that they should too, will go far in transferring this value on… or at the very least, will make them think with a bit more discernment, before they act. Even this, can make an impact on what happens to them during their adolescence and early adulthood.
The Parent-Child Connection: Influencing Morality
Ain't Love Grand?
Instilling the Value of Abstinence with Open Dialogue and Even Humor
I came from a family of 7, five kids in total. Our house was chaotic and loving, to say the least. There were very few topics that were off the table and I appreciated this loud openness, as it made me feel secure about a world I belonged to aside from my world of friends and school. In high school, my parents constantly found ways to subtly – and overtly - remind us how important it was to value chastity.
Jokingly (but not really jokingly), they even hung a Catholic “contract,” which all who entered came to refer amusedly to as “THE contract,” on the refrigerator that stated that us kids and the people we were dating would “wait until we were married.” My mother actually made all my sister’s and my boyfriends, and even my brothers and their girlfriends, sign it when they came over to the house, reminding us that we should all be treating each other respectfully toward this end. Mostly, it made our suitors blush and laugh; surprised and amused. It remained there for years – a topic that was often laughed over, yet recognized as a real moral principle, by all who saw it (and signed it) throughout our years of living there. Yes, our boyfriends and friends thought it was funny and even nutty, but truth be told, I feel it commanded a bit of admiration for us among those we dated and it even rubbed off on our friends at times, making “waiting” an ok thing to consider as possible. Mostly, it was comedic, but little things like this get the point across in a light and loving way. We knew where our parents stood on this issue; and so did the people we dated. They knew this was our family value and they knew from fairly early on that it was something that was part of us, and dating us.
Waiting for Mr. Right: The Dangers of Being "Active" Too Young
Why Is Abstinence Better Than Teaching Safe Sex?
Of course, the principles of safe sex are important for any child to know and I believe, that these are even taught in school health classes in today’s day and age in most cases. However, the awareness of safe sex principles, I feel, can be presented with the caveat that abstinence is better. I feel that in teaching and condoning safe sex practices, parents are almost giving permission for these acts to take place – among children that are not ready to deal with all the responsibilities, emotions and consequences that having sex invites. Abstinence is the safest route. Below offers my opinions on why.
Ways To Advocate Abstinence With Your Tween/Teen Daughter
- Keep an open discussion about your child's life and feelings
- Share your values and pass them on
- Share your own past experiences - good and bad
- Discuss the benefits of chastity
- Discuss the negatives of having sex too young or the dangers of having sex in your teens
- Discuss the beliefs of your faith if you are religious
- Talk about your values often - repeat, repeat, repeat
- Use humor
- Hang a Chastity Contract on the fridge
- Promote confidence and self-esteem
Benefit of Teaching Abstinence #1: Safest Route
There simply is no argument that the value of waiting until marriage is the safest route for teens, especially girls. Whether or not this lesson sticks forever, or just until an age where your daughter truly is old enough to make good decisions concerning such matters, teaching this to your young teens, and even tweens, can serve great purpose.
Advocating abstinence lets your daughters know that you think engaging in sexual activity at a young age is wrong. And it IS the wrong choice for youths - because it comes with so many negative consequence potentials. If your daughter is not having sex at a young age, she cannot become pregnant. She cannot have to deal with the potential negatives of becoming pregnant at a young age, and she will not have to make subsequent decisions to deal with an unexpected pregnancy that could impact her for many years to come, if not for life. As well, it will teach your child a moral that her body is sacred. It will also protect her from disease and other negative situations which are difficult to deal with when life experience is short. Children in their teens are not mature enough yet to handle the consequences of having sex or sexual relationships.
Benefits of Teaching Abstinence #2: Self-Esteem
Teaching your daughter that abstinence is a choice in today’s world will also teach your daughter self-esteem and self-love. It teaches them to value themselves and that having at least a few firm convictions is character-building and something that others will actually like you even more for. Being a strong enough person to stand up against a crowd on an issue that is relevant in college, high school, and even middle school for some, will reinforce leadership qualities and may even make it easier for others around them to do the same, or feel the same. Adhering to abstinence does not have to make your daughter “nerdy;” to the contrary, if instilled young enough, it can make your daughter strong – and someone to be looked up to. It will allow your daughter never to be put in the position of being used just because she is a girl. It will allow your daughter to care about herself enough to know that boys need to like her for the right reasons and to like her still, regardless of whether or not she is willing to have sex with them or not. It will let others know that she values being wholesome.
Making Young Relationships Positive Experiences for Our Kids
“The principles of safe sex can be taught with the caveat that abstinence is better.”
Benefits of Teaching Abstinence #3: Reputation
It goes without saying that abstinence in high school and even in college will go far in protecting a girls’ reputation. If a girl engages in sex at a young age with someone she thinks she “loves,” there is nothing to protect her from having this person talk about the incidences between them. Let’s be honest: very young boys are not equipped to know that doing such things is repulsive behavior (although parents should consider teaching their boys this as well!). Unfortunately, this can make things really difficult for a young girl. Abstinence takes all the potential for this kind of occurrence away. As well, a girl with many sexual experiences at a young age, can similarly be hurt by the opinions of others around her as a result of this. Who wouldn’t want to protect their daughter from this sad reality?
Fostering Respect in Dating
Benefits of Teaching Abstinence #4: Respect
Just as teaching abstinence teaches self-esteem, it will result in commanding respect from others as well. In practicing abstinence, so much pressure is taken off a dating situation for youth today. So many of my boyfriends when I was young actually respected the values I had – or at least were intrigued by the pursuit of seeing if they could change my values. I am not saying that abstinence will not be something your daughter will have to defend many a time and insist upon, but it isn’t something that will make her the odd one out. People do not reject you for having morals that you place high. They respect you for it.
Not only does abstinence command respect in young partners, it commands respect from potential partners in the future. Boys will respect your daughter as having a good reputation when she holds the value of abstinence as one of her own. Similarly, holding abstinence as a moral choice will remind your daughter what an important decision sexual activity is and will allow her to place apt value on her choices concerning this issue in the future. I feel that practicing abstinence while young will impact the importance that you place on this very sacred decision later in life as well. It instills values that last a lifetime and can be used in principal, throughout your adult life as well to make safe choices toward fidelity.
It's Ok to Wait!
Benefits of Teaching Abstinence #5: Fewer Regrets
Not "being active" in high school and even in college means fewer regrets for girls in many cases. Let’s face it: most high school relationships will end – and many of them, badly. The end of such relationships will be much less traumatic for girls if sex was not a part of the relationship. As well, pregnancy and disease will also, never be issues. I think this speaks for itself.
Benefits of Teaching Abstinence #6: Health (Mental and Physical)
Already mentioned, but worthy of repeated note, it is simply not safe to have many sexual partners in today’s world of disease. As a matter of fact, according to the CDC, 8,900 people ages 13-24 contracted HIV in 2009 and 19 million people were infected with STD’s, with over half being of age 15-24. Similarly, more than 400,000 American girls gave birth in 2009, aged 15-19. Half of all pregnancies are reported to be unwanted, and half of these end in termination. One woman dies every 7 minutes worldwide as a result of unsafe terminations of pregnancy, according to sources like the Orlando Women’s Center. Parents who advocate for chastity are giving kids a chance against these staggering statistics. Not being sexually active means no transfer of disease and no mental anguish over past sexual partners and subsequent break ups complicated by past intimacies that again, occurred too young.
Further Resources for Teaching Abstinence:
For further resources on how and why to teach abstinence, visit the following sites:
- Teaching Our Children Chastity at Granola Catholic website
- True Love Waits Til 18 at Mom Logic website
- How Do I Teach My Children to Wait Until Marriage? at Families.com website
I know some people may think this viewpoint naïve in today’s day and age. I know some people might say that this belief is placing children in harm’s way by not advocating safe sex. But, I have to respectfully disagree. I think our children form so many of their values from their parents. Why should this be any different? If your children share a mutual love and respect with you and if you present abstinence in an open and even humorous light – I think you will be surprised what an impact your efforts can really make for your daughter toward her well-being in her teen years and beyond. But here is the key: you must bridge this subject with your teen. It is not going to be instilled in our daughters if we do not take the time to have these hard conversations. If your daughter has a healthy confidence in her own worth, and a pointed awareness of your own advocacy of the importance of abstinence, she will certainly have no trouble considering this life choice as something she can make her own.
Waiting For Marriage: The Holy Grail
Young Men On Chastity - It Doesn't Have to Be Old Fashioned
What Do You Think?
Do you feel abstinence is a plausible thing to teach your kids in today's world?
Have you taught or will you teach your children abstinence when the time is right?
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