I support a woman’s right to choose. And I will teach my daughter that very lesson. In fact, I’ll go one better, not only does she have a right to choose, she has an obligation to choose.
I will also teach my daughter that she has made her choice when she chooses to have sex. That is the decision point; not after a positive pregnancy test. Pregnancy is a natural consequence of sexual activity, it is not an “accident.” Accidents happen as the result of something unexpected.
One of the things I struggle with most as a parent is how to teach my kids the values that I hold dear. Part of that struggle stems from having to eschew the current cultural paradigms of self-esteem, entitlement and being given respect before it’s earned. Yes, first I must undo what society has been doing for decades.
You see, I value more than those things GIVING respect, possessing self control, being selfless, providing service to others. In this “me” generation our kids focus has been turned inward. Children are, by their very nature, more self centered than adults until they get sufficient experience to view the larger world. However, we, as their parents, have a responsibility to teach them to ACT selflessly despite their selfish inclinations. When they have mastered self control, when they are able to show respect to those who have earned it, when they are well mannered and polite, and are using some of their time to help others, then the world will begin showing THEM respect and, in turn, they will develop much deserved self esteem.
Perhaps therein lies my biggest problem: too many kids are told to develop their self esteem when, in fact, there is little about their self for them to esteem. They view self esteem as an entitlement. But we, as parents, are the ones who are charged with helping them develop their “selves” so that they can hold themselves in esteem. We, as parents, are to teach them that their worth is not determined by their friends or their boyfriend/girlfriend or their clothes or their success. In fact, their worth has nothing to do with what they have or who they are with; but, rather, their worth is determined by who they are in God. When we teach our children that they have worth because God has created them for a specific purpose and has given them the exact tools necessary to accomplish His purpose then we are giving them reason to value themselves. When we teach them to seek His purpose for their lives, then we are teaching our kids to look outwardly at the world for places to serve and ways to fulfill His purpose for them. Out of this intrinsic value will develop behaviors that are worthy of the praise of man—whether it is a three year old who says “please and thank you” or a teenager who calls and asks for permission from a father to talk to a young lady on the telephone. And from those behaviors come a real reason to have self esteem.
And with a world view such as this teens and young adults can see through the cultural messages . Our culture teaches that people can have sex because it is their right to do with their bodies as they please. Culture tells us that we only have worth in how much we earn or how beautiful our partner is. Culture teaches us to evaluate based on aesthetics not on character.
Teaching character to our kids equips them to evaluate character. When the Secret Service is training agents to spot counterfeit bills it doesn’t show them counterfeits. Rather, the Secret Service surrounds them with authentic bills so that the agents will know instantly what authentic currency looks like. Parents, too, need to surround their kids with authentic character—displaying it and teaching it.
The abortion problem in the world is, in part, a result of individuals who think first about themselves. They didn’t think about others when they had sex and now that the natural consequences of that action are at hand, they want to avoid those consequences. They view their sexual desire as some sort of appetite to be fulfilled for their satisfaction. They view abortion as the least intrusive option on their life for the resolution of their perceived “problem.”
Let me say, I also support a man’s right to choose. Because when a man and a woman choose to have sex they are choosing to engage in the process by which babies are brought into the world. And the man and the woman engage in making this choice together and simultaneously. It seems to me this discussion ought to occur before the clothes come off: “If this behavior begets a pregnancy, what are we going to do? We need to make a choice before we get into bed.” If two people can’t agree on something this important, then maybe they shouldn’t be putting themselves in the very intimate and vulnerable position of having sex.
Even the phrase “making love” points to our self centeredness. God’s gift of sex wasn’t given to us to “make” love. It was given to reinforce love. It was designed that a man and woman would become ONE flesh and for their mutual enjoyment. If you think you are going to make “love” by having sex you are sorely mistaken. Without love already present you are either using someone for your personal pleasure, you are being used by them, or the act itself is for the eradication of lust. The only thing that the couple can MAKE is a baby. Maybe that’s how we, as parents, ought to be talking about this with our kids: “You know son, when a man and a woman “make-baby” [as opposed to “make-love”] it is a wonderful thing to be shared by a married couple for their mutual enjoyment.” In this way, we are speaking accurately about what the consequences could be and we are using language which focuses their attention away from self and towards others.
We must teach our kids that they have the right to choose and beyond that, the obligation to choose–the obligation to evaluate their behavior based on how it will affect others. And that choice gets made when people choose to have sex. Not four weeks later.
Parents, teach your children to choose to see themselves as God sees them. Teach them to choose to see the world as bigger than themselves. Teach them to choose to think of others as better than themselves, then they’ll have plenty of self esteem and plenty of esteem from the world around them as well—or as kids say, “they’ll get their props,” but only when they’ve earned them.