Teaching purity, self-worth

I was horrified recently as I sat in a group of young women during a church lesson on morality. Yes, it was the awkward abstinence lesson given to LDS Young Women who are in high school.

I was grateful that the woman teaching the lesson was honest and open about sex in high school, citing some statistics and unabashedly discussing the temptations these young women are facing. Sure, some of the girls laughed nervously to hear a 60-year-old woman talk about sex, but there was very little room for misinterpretation in her message that LDS girls should wait until marriage to have intimacy or do any of the other not-quite-sex-but-really-who-are-we-kidding-it’s-basically-the-same-thing acts that teenagers justify to themselves.

I appreciated her approach a lot more than some I’ve seen in the past where a teacher will pass around used bubblegum and ask if any of the girls would want to chew it after someone else already has. If you’ve never seen this tactic before, consider yourself lucky. It’s a pretty horrible analogy that completely misses the point of repentance and forgiveness.

But the thing that shocked me was the stories from some of these girls about what they see and hear about in high school. I’m not sure when the high school scene got so kinky, but these kids are doing some weird stuff. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever heard of a “rainbow party.” Trust me —- it’s not as innocent as it sounds.

So as I listened to these anecdotes, I found myself wondering how to best help young women. Passing around chewed up bubblegum falls short, and really, so does talking about statistics and trying to scare girls. The real goal should be to help girls see their potential and their own self-worth. The ultimate message should be that these young women possess a power of procreation that they will one day treasure. I know that’s the message I want my daughter to be learning from a young age.

So how do we give that message to teenage girls who are facing increasing peer pressure? How does a parent help his or her daughter understand her own value and convince her that it can’t be found in the backseat of a car?

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