Monday, March 23, 2009

Would You Give Contraceptives to Your 14 Year Old Daughter?

Remember all that controversy a few years back over the New York Times article "Truly, Madly, Guiltily" by novelist Ayelet Waldman? In it, Ms. Waldman admitted that she'd rather all 4 of her kids die than her husband:

"What if, God forbid, someone were to snatch one of my children? God forbid. I imagine what it would feel like to lose one or even all of them. I imagine myself consumed, destroyed by the pain. And yet, in these imaginings, there is always a future beyond the child's death. Because if I were to lose one of my children, God forbid, even if I lost all my children, God forbid, I would still have him, my husband. But my imagination simply fails me when I try to picture a future beyond my husband's death."

The whole piece came off as rather creepy to me. I love my DH but I'm not obsessed with him the way Ms. Waldman seems to be with hers. My whole identity is not so wrapped up in our marriage that I would not be able to function should God forbid it end. Would I be devastated? Absolutely. Can I "imagine no joy without [him]" as Ms. Waldman puts it? The truth is that I believe I would be able to work through my grief in time; while I would certainly miss him, I'd still be able to find joy in other parts of my life. God has given me many blessings. The loss of one, even of a major one like my marriage, would not end my ability to appreciate the remaining ones. In fact, I would likely come to treasure them even more.

Anyways, Ms. Waldman has a new provocative piece on and linked to by Lisa Belkin's New York Times "Motherlode" blog. In the piece, she relates how she decided to place a stash of prophylactics she'd received as a freebie in her kids' bathroom (her oldest is a 14 year old girl):
"I was about to throw them away, but after an internal debate that seemed at once to encompass every attitude, preconception, goal and belief I have about parenting, I took the bag and put it on the very top shelf of the cupboard in the kids' bathroom."
I had friends growing up whose parents put them on the Pill at 16 and allowed them to stay out all night with their boyfriends. They were clearly given the impression that teen sex was okay; not surprisingly they lost their virginity on the early side and had a high number of partners as teens. They are now in their early 30's and still single.

Compare their outcome with those of my friends whose parents held more conservative beliefs about teen sexuality. They were virgins at high school graduation and while most of them did not wait all the way until marriage, they tended to have few or even only a single partner. The majority of them are now married or engaged.

These are anecdotes, but research findings back up the notion that a lower number of premarital sex partners leads to better marital outcomes. People who marry their first sexual partners are less likely to cheat than those who have multiple partners before marriage. Also, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, women having no non-marital sexual partners had an 81% chance at a stable marriage. By contrast, when a woman had just one non-marital sexual partner that chance dropped to 54%. If a woman had five sexual partners outside of marriage she has only 30% chance of a stable marriage.

Which would you want for your daughter(s)- promiscuity as a teen or a better chance at a happy marriage when she's an adult?


Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Would I? No. I would worry about the use of hormones that early unless there were a reason to use hormones--that is, if the girl were suffering somekind of rare disorder where she was growing mustache or something like that.

Secondly, the way this woman gave her kids the contraceptives was equally bizarre. I mean, just supposing you were going to give your teen the pill. Wouldn't you have a talk with her about what they were, how they work, and why a girl should take them? I think that since it's the girl's body, she ought to make an informed choice about something like that.

What a very strange cookie this mother is!

Crimson Wife said...

Actually, they were over-the-counter barrier contraceptives rather than prescription hormonal ones. I didn't use the "c" word because I didn't want my site to get blocked by anyone using a 'net filter.

Ms. Waldman lives in Berkeley so I would presume her daughter had so-called "comprehensive" sex ed in school. Berkeley High apparently even has a policy of dispensing up to 12 prophylactics per week free of charge at its student health center.