Friday, July 20, 2012

It is All About the Relationships

We read the news about teens in the United States:
  • 47.4% had ever had sexual intercourse
  • 33.7% had had sexual intercourse during the previous 3 months, and, of these;
    • 39.8% did not use a condom the last time they had sex
    • 76.7% did not use birth control pills or Depo-Provera to prevent pregnancy the last time they had sex  15.3%had had sex with four or more people during their life[1]

Those statistics terrify parents, faith leaders, educators, business leaders—and for good reason. The ramifications are more than we want to consider. In light of this, it is easy to narrow our focus. It is all about sex!

Many times that is where the fight centers. It is about sex! It is about teaching individuals not to have sex. It is about teaching individuals to use contraceptives when having sex. It is all about sex!

But it isn’t!

It is about the relationship! It is about the need that humans have to be intimate with another person, to feel desired and wanted and attractive and worthy. It is about being known by another person in the most intimate way possible. It is about being naked—physically and emotionally and know that you are safe!

It is about the relationship with parents, knowing that if you ask a question about sex you won’t be judged, ostracized or put on restriction. It is knowing that your teen is a lot like you were when you were their age—full of all the questions, fears, yearnings. It about allowing your relationship to grow and develop.

It is about the relationship with those who aren’t related to us, caring enough about the students in your class to know that what happens when they leave has as much to do with what they learn as what happens in class. It is knowing that if we don’t care enough about young people that we won’t have customers or workers in a few years, let along any one to pay for my Social Security!

It is about the relationships!

It is helping our young people make good decisions about their sexuality, but even more about how they navigate the troubled emotional waters. As Amber Madison reminded us at the recent Summer Institute, it all comes back to that note we used to pass in grade school: “I like you. Do you like me? Check yes or no!”

As important as it is for us to help our youth deal with questions about sexuality—and we must help them make smart, informed, wise decisions—we also have to help them answer the relationship questions. “How do you know when you are in love? “ “Why does it hurt so bad when she said no?” “Why won’t anyone ask me out?” These questions are just as important—if not more basic!

And a personal note: It is about the relationships! Having been involved with the SC Campaign for over 18 years (I started when I was 7!) it has been the relationships that have been so wonderful. The opportunity to meet individuals from around our state who are so committed to making a better future for our children, who daily seek to make a difference! To hear your stories gives me hope!

It is about the relationships with the incredible members of the board of the SC Campaign. (As the old geezer emeritus member I can say that!) This past year the Molly Talbot—who I first met when she was our graduate assistant—was the chair of the board. Watching her so ably lead us was a joy! (I do sound like an old geezer, don’t I?!)

And it is about the relationships! Next week we add our congratulations and best wishes to Forrest Alton and Heather Brandt as they celebrate their wedding! It is a great gift to both of them!

See, it is about the relationship!

by Rev. Don Flowers, Past Board Chair for the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

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