I remember in high school riding in my girlfriend Kristen’s old Chrysler with a boom box in the center console. Her radio had long quit working and we would blare this song. We had to keep stopping to buy batteries because the boom box at max volume was a real energy drain. It was so risque and fun and even though I had no idea what Salt n Peppa were actually talking about I happily sung the words.
Fast forward to present day and now I know all about those lyrics and have two little girls as a constant reminder of what happens when the lyrics are put into action.
Today Mike sent me an article about Colorado’s experimental contraception program. The article claims large decreases in teen pregnancies and abortion due to readily available, affordable contraception. My first thought was, “Wow, way to go CO!” When I told Mike how pleased I was that Colorado was taking aggressive action he reminded me not everyone was as excited. He reiterated the annoying claim I have often heard naysayers scream which is:
Available contraception leads to an increase in sexual activity in youth. It makes perfectly nice girls into SLUTS!! Ugh.
Really?? Think about it… what teenage girl says, “I didn’t want to have sex and had no plans to but now I can get birth control pills so I am going to roll in the hay with any guy who looks at me!” None to very very few.
News flash, girls have sex because of emotion based reasons. Girls have sex because they want to fit in. Girls have sex because they want a boy to like them. They want to feel grown up and accepted. Girls want to feel pretty and to feel loved. They do not decide to have sex because they can get a low cost diaphragm or free condom. Girls wait to have sex because they are confident in themselves. They choose to wait because they feel loved and cherished by someone other than a boyfriend. Girls pick a different way to display affection when they are shown praise and encouragement and have a strong sense of self worth.
Before you roll your eyes and click close thinking I am another clueless thirty-something who doesn’t know what I am talking about… I am proof. A few of my friends were also.
My girlfriends and I were all able to get birth control and were not in private schools. We were of varying faiths, popularity and socioeconomic backgrounds. None of us were considered shy or dorky or prudish (quite the opposite actually). On the surface one would not see any correlation between our decisions. Dig deeper and you would have seen ONE major similarity. Every girlfriend I had (and women I continue to meet) who chose to wait until they were ready had a strong adult mentor.
In a perfect world a child is blessed with strong parental figures. Unfortunately this is not something we can pick. My parents were awesome (still are). They taught me how important it was to be strong in mind and independent. They rewarded and encouraged my achievements without pushing me into areas I was no longer interested. My parents never considered I wouldn’t be successful. It was annoying. They praised my scholastic endeavors and celebrated every tiny accomplishment regardless of how trivial it may be. They reminded me I was important. I was and still am extremely lucky to have the support of my parents.
Not everyone wins the parent lottery and has support in the home. So then what? It takes a village friends!! If you know a young person, why not take them to lunch? Why not offer to help with homework? Perhaps your neighbor/niece/friend’s child is struggling. Make yourself the adult who takes accountability for our precious youth. I work to encourage and uplift the young women I meet. It doesn’t matter if they are my own children. Bonus? You will feel like SUCH a badass when you know you contributed in some little way to a child’s future.
As a mother I am fearful of the challenges our daughters will face. I know they will be pressured to drink, do drugs and have sex. They will meet people who will teach them how to cuss(never from us of course-ha!) and bully and treat people poorly. They will also meet people who are better looking than them. Smarter. Wealthier. Cooler. I know my girls will feel insecure and want to fit in. The day they come home with their first crush will be exhilarating for them and nerve wracking for me.
What can we do? I don’t have the answer (If you thought I was going to bust out the perfect plan you were mistaken).
You know what I am going to do? I am going to love them fiercely. I am going to remind them how smart they are and about life and traveling and the big world waiting for them to conquer. I am going to encourage their goals and remind them how much they have to offer. I am going to attempt to explain that they are at the very beginning of a long adventure and will have many more crushes(they will not believe me). I am going to encourage them to value their bodies and discuss our faith. Then, I am going to tell them about contraception. I am going to tell them where to get it and be cool but firm, explaining one wrong move could give you a child or a disease. Finally, I am going to have a panic attack in the privacy of our bedroom while telling Mike to load the gun.
When I think they haven’t listened and they come to me because their heart is broken I am going to hold them. When I am rocking my little girl and hating the piece of crap that hurt her feelings I am going to support her and tell her how special she is. She won’t believe me and I will certainly think it is falling on deaf ears. But down deep I know she will hear me. Maybe it will remind her how amazing she is. Maybe it will make her stronger. Just maybe it will remind her how loved she is and give her the confidence she needs to choose differently.