Moral Development

The task of teaching moral values has become increasingly difficult in today's materialistic, sex-saturated society.

You have the difficult task of preparing your teen for battles against sexual pressures. However, there are so many harmful messages attacking your teen from all sides that you might feel overwhelmed and defenseless.

The first line of defense is to develop a strong value system in your teen.

For teenagers to become independent of outside pressure to do morally questionable things, they must receive guidance about right and wrong. The question is, whom do you want to provide that guidance to your teen?

Do you see yourself in one or more of these statements?

  • Many parents don't hesitate to set rules for some behaviors - drinking, smoking, stealing, vandalizing, etc. But when it comes to sex, parents tend to be perplexed.
  • Some absolutely forbid their teens to have sex.
  • Others feel that sexual matters are private, and they turn their attention away from what their teenagers are doing.
  • Fathers and mothers can have completely different views on teenage sexuality.
  • In many cases, sons receive different messages than daughters regarding sexual activity (i.e., it's normal for a boy and sinful for a girl).

The bottom line is this: Sex is a moral issue that has serious consequences for your teen. You are your child's first and foremost teacher and role model. It is up to you to give him or her a strong moral foundation on which to make mature decisions.

If you have avoided discussing sexual matters before, a sudden openness about sex will shock your child. Jump in anyway. Take your time, and don't give up! The lines of communication will eventually open.

If necessary, find a book that will help you to broach the subject. Or refer to a news article or a current movie to discuss.

When faced with a parent trying to talk about sex, teenagers react in various ways:

  • Some will act as though they aren't interested in what you have to say - "Heard it all in school, Mom."
  • Others will seem disgusted that you would talk about such things.
  • Some may react as though you are infringing on their privacy.

Don't let immediate reactions stop you from delivering your message. It's an age-old trick of teenagers to avoid letting their parents know what they're thinking. But give them some credit. They are thinking, and they are listening. Your teen might just need time to let what you say "sink in." In fact, a short time after listening to you, he or she might be repeating your words to a friend.

Here are some reasons to give your teen for not having sex:

  • Concentrate on becoming a "whole" person instead of focusing on sexual attractiveness
  • Give yourself a better chance to develop physically and emotionally
  • Avoid getting a negative reputation
  • Get to know a person for who and what he or she really is, and not just through a simple physical attraction
  • Be free of worries, shame, or a "guilty conscience"
  • Avoid pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and the anxiety that results from sexual activity

On the other hand, there are contrary pressures that kids will be under from the media, acquaintances or "friends." These are not good reasons to have sex:

  • "Everybody is doing it"
  • To keep a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • To feel grown up
  • To express affection
  • To satisfy curiosity

If kids have a strong moral foundation in the face of pressure and temptation, they will have a much greater chance of resisting those pressures.

For more information and help in dealing with your teen's moral issues and challenges, read Unmasking Sexual Con Games.