Prepare Your Children for Unexpected Situations: Vignettes Based on True Stories
The 17-year-old daughter of two professors, Melissa has a brother and a sister, and she is the youngest of the three. Her parents are very protective and truly believe sex is a subject that should be saved for just before marriage.
Melissa knows only that sometimes girls get pregnant before they are married, but she does not know why, or how that happens. She has no idea how it happens after a woman marries either, for that matter. Her sister, who is 2 years older, has been enlightened by college friends, but will not tell Melissa the answer to her questions, because their mother forbids talking about that subject. Their mother is not aware that her older daughter is now better informed than she would prefer.
Melissa does not have a lot of friends at her small school. She is well behaved, gets good grades, she is attractive, and has an easy smile. She is kind and thoughtful to other people, but it is believed by some other students at her school that she receives preferential treatment and advantages because of who her parents are. Many girls are jealous and/or resentful, and so they are sometimes blatantly mean to Melissa.
Melissa is scared. She had a date with a boy from her school and did not tell her parents where she was really going when she went out. They would have forbidden her to go. At the end of the evening, the boy kissed her goodnight. Now Melissa is scared that she may be pregnant. She does not know what makes girls pregnant; so maybe it is kissing . . . no one will tell her.
When she mentioned to another girl she thought was her friend, that the boy had kissed her and that she was afraid she might have gotten pregnant, the girl laughed. She said, “Don’t worry. It doesn’t usually happen the first time (meaning pregnancy). But if you want to make sure, use birth control.”
Melissa had only heard snippets of information on television about birth control and she had no idea what it was. She understood it was supposed to prevent pregnancy, but she didn’t know how it worked or what different kinds of birth control were available. “What is birth control,” she asked.
“Oh, it’s easy,” answered the so-called friend. “Just eat peanut butter everyday, and you will have nothing to worry about.”
Another girl who happened to overhear the conversation chimed in, “And don’t ever take a bath right after a man has bathed in the tub you’re going to use. Not even if it’s your brother or your father. You can get pregnant that way, too.”
The girls were giving each other knowing looks and laughing about how unbelievable it was that Melissa, the privileged daughter of professors, had no idea what caused pregnancy or how to prevent it. At first they had thought she was joking, but then they came to realize she was serious. She really didn’t know what caused pregnancy or that it was not kissing. They decided that if she believed them and ended up pregnant for doing more than just kissing, it would serve her right.
“Does it matter which kind of peanut butter I eat, “ Melissa asked the girl she thought was her friend. “I mean, not the brand, but creamy or crunchy?”
“Crunchy is the only kind that really works,” the girl answered. “Make sure it’s crunchy, or you could find yourself in trouble, if you know what I mean.”
What happened here soon became gossip that spread all over the small school, and soon even students much younger than Melissa were snickering and laughing about her apparent acceptance of what she had been told, and her ignorance about the ‘birds and the bees.’ No one wanted to be the one who would tell Melissa the truth, and so everyone waited and watched to see if she would become pregnant.
Sadly, the above story is for the most part, true. Mainly, I have only changed her name for this hub.
Here is another story of what happened to a young woman who had recently left home for college. Let’s call her Meagan. Meagan grew up in a very proper home where she was taught to respect and obey authority figures, like police, clergy, teachers, parents, and employers. Not so unusual, as most children are taught these same things.
Meagan’s parents were paying for her room and board and tuition at college, but it was up to her to earn her own spending money. She was a very pretty young woman and she had a good singing voice. She found a job working for a local singing telegram service. It was her job to deliver singing telegrams. All went well, and she enjoyed her job.
Then one day one of the other girls who worked at the singing telegram service did not show up for work. Meagan’s boss told her she would have to fill in and deliver the telegrams the absent girl normally delivered. She was required to sing and do a little dance routine while removing her clothes. Meagan felt a little uncomfortable about doing that. She had never been naked in front of anyone that she could remember. Not since she was a little girl and her mother had helped her bathe.
Meagan decided she would have to do what her boss told her to do. He was, after all, the boss, and if he said she had to do something, well then she had to do it. Her parents had taught her never to argue with them or her teachers or any adult who was in charge under any circumstances. She would just have to smile through her gritted teeth and make the best of the situation.
Meagan delivered 3 telegrams that evening and she found the experience humiliating to say the least. In 2 cases there had been only men to receive the telegram and they had all wanted to paw her. It was all she could do after delivering her risqué little songs to get away -- from what she was not sure, but she knew it would probably be worse than the pawing.
The point I am trying to make by telling as confidentially as possible, the stories of these unfortunate young women, is that sometimes we can protect our children too much from life’s realities. Not giving them important information to help them when they find themselves in questionable circumstances is not doing them any favors or protecting them from ‘worldly’ ways.
Information Is Power
Did I protect my own daughter from as many of the ugly things in our world as I could? I absolutely did, but I never censored the information she received. I never shielded her from life’s unpleasant realities. I let her know that she could question authority figures, including myself, so long as she did it respectfully. I started teaching her that when she was only 4 years old.
I let my daughter know she should think for herself about whether what someone was asking her to do was moral, legal, and logical. If she thought it was not, then she needed to respectfully say no to authority figures who might be asking her to do things, or wanting her to allow them to do things, that she thought were not right.
Helping Young People Act Responsibly
The first girl I talked about, Melissa, should have understood at age 17, where babies come from and how they get there in the first place. She should have known about birth control methods. Parents should be teaching this information and instilling a sense of responsibility along with that information.
Why would any caring parent want their child to go through anything like what Melissa or Meagan went through? Why would they want to keep their child in the dark about sex and possibly contribute to a pregnancy because of their failure to inform their child about sexual facts and responsibilities?
So many parents still seem to think informing their children about these issues will cause them to test that information, but not knowing can be dangerous too, as the true stories I just related should make obvious. It seems illogical to me that parents would trust chance more than they trust their own child to act responsibly with information on reproduction.
Give Your Children the Power of Information and Knowledge
It has been my experience that most young people, when trusted with the facts, use that knowledge responsibly. If anything, they act more responsibly because they are not experimenting and trying to figure things out on their own. They are not trusting in information from people who may not really know the facts, or who do not have an interest in protecting them.
There are plenty of babies born outside of marriage as proof that keeping young people ignorant about sex is not the best birth control method. A lot of people go to jail because they blindly follow the orders of authority figures. Remember Watergate? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are lots of young children who are molested and/or raped by authority figures every year.
Ignorance hurts our children, and it is our responsibility as parents to provide information and guidance for our children so that hopefully they will not do something life changing before they even have a chance to live their lives.
We need to provide our children with some ideas on how they can help themselves if they ever find themselves in unfortunate circumstances, facing a pedophile, for example. Instruct them about things they may be able to do to get away, or to keep from falling into a snare in the first place.
Good judgment is acquired over time and with experience. It is our job as parents to provide information, guidance, and protection to our children, as they are learning and acquiring that good judgment.
Do not let your children get into situations similar to the ones described here, or possibly worse situations, because you thought it was safer to keep them ignorant. Not all adults, authority figures or not, are worthy of your child’s respect and compliance. Help your children learn how to know the difference.
© 2011 C E Clark