We have talked volumes about the travesty perpetrated on women by the GOP governors, legislators and candidates. The reason we have talked so much is because most people feel entitled to choose if, and when, they reproduce.
No one likes to be told if they can engage in intimate relations with someone else, how to do so, or when to do so.
The focus of the assaults on Planned Parenthood and attempting to create laws that will prevent contraceptive use has largely been focused on women and their rights, but what about men? Has anyone given them a second thought?
How men feel about this has not been represented in the media and this is a huge disservice to society. Men too, would like to have a choice in knowing when their life is going to be turned upside down. Not everyone is prepared to start supporting a pregnant woman and the child or children she is carrying.
Medical insurance is costly. One that covers pregnancy and delivery can be astronomical. Diapers and formula can eat up the household budget in short time and babies need medical care on a regular basis. Child support is very expensive.
There is also the emotional aspect of caring for a child that no one is discussing. Idealistic maternal or paternal feelings aside, the ability to be a nurturing parent does not come easily without preparation. Ideally, children should be welcomed into the world by adults who are ready and willing to raise a human being into adulthood. Men have a right to a vasectomy and condoms.
Being a parent is not for the faint of heart. Eventually, the child becomes a teenager and they too, need to be prepared for birth control measures.
Parents and Teenagers
The idea of a teenager on birth control sends shivers up the parental collective spine. ( "My baby? having sex?" "No, Never, Not until they are 35 and out of the house.")
The notion of talking to parents about their needs for protection and open conversation may make teenagers want to set their hair on fire. ("Not my parents!" "They'll never understand" "They are too old" "this is awkward")
The fact is that teenagers are going to have sex without the intent of having a baby. Sexuality is a normal aspect of healthy development and no amount of religious indoctrination is going to stop hormonal changes from taking place. Furthermore, a teenager can, and will, fall in love. Nothing ever devised by humans has been able to prevent this phenomenon. In other words, sex will happen. Period. How we deal with it, makes all the difference in the world.
It is part and parcel of responsible parenting - we need to give our teenagers the tools they need to make their own decisions. They need to enter this stage of adult-like behavior fully armed with information and the right tools.
As parents, burying our heads in the sand only leads to grand parenting. A choice we may want to put off a little bit longer.
A bit of advice? - Let them know that when they are ready to get birth control, you will make sure they get that medical appointment. By the time they know they are ready, they are fully aware of your values and mores. It is time for them to adapt to their own level of comfort and have the tools they need to make personal decisions.
- They need to know what a condom is and how to use it.
- They need to know that NO, means NO. Backing away quickly works.
- They need to respect themselves and the young lady they are with.
- They DON'T have to prove ANYTHING to anyone. If they are not ready for intimacy, they need the tools to walk away confidently from peer pressure.
- They need to ensure the young lady takes her share of the responsibility seriously and she too uses birth control appropriately.
- They need to know that some girl, whether she means it or not, will hurt his feelings and break his heart. This hurts.
- Talk to your parents. They are not the enemy.
- See all of the above. This is not a secret and the two of you need to be on the same page.
- Know which method of birth control is best, or more appropriate, in your particular situation.
- Don't engage in a physical relationship without knowing what to expect from yourself and your partner.
- Don't break his heart.
- Be prepared to have yours broken. You may not know how to deal with all those feelings yet.
- Talk to your parents. They are not the enemy.
Gay and Lesbian Teenagers
It is hard to believe, but heterosexual parents give birth to gay and lesbian babies. As teenagers, they have to deal with the same hormonal changes and emotional attachments as their heterosexual counterparts. Gay and Lesbian teenagers may have little chance of getting themselves or someone else pregnant, but they are not immune to sexually transmitted diseases (STD). They need to learn healthy sexual practices that involve condoms.
- See all of the above and review the resources provided at the end of this article.
As parents we want our children, gay or straight, to stay healthy and be happy.
Final Word to Parents
There is nothing more uncomfortable that coming to grips with the fact that our children are sexual beings. Treating them with respect and openness can make a difficult situation a lot easier.
We need to understand that arming our children with information and birth control does not open the flood gates to promiscuity, pole dancing and prostitution. However, it opens the lines of communication that allows our children to continue to put their faith and trust in us as our relationships mature and change.
In the final analysis, we are all someone's sons and daughters, but at some point, we stop being someone's child.
Planned Parenthood: Types of Birth Control
Avert.org: Lesbian, Bisexual Women and Safe Sex
Gay and Lesbian Center: STD Frequently Asked Questions
Centers for Disease Control: Gay and Bisexual Men's Health