Well, I realize it’s been an immensely long time since I’ve posted–I do intend on being better about that! Life has been busy in a wonderful way, with our baby girl turning nine months old and already starting to take a few steps (she started crawling at only five months, so she’s been a fun little handful, to say the least)! I promise I will share lots of photos in future posts–but I wanted to wait on that for now, as some of the things I’m going to talk about aren’t the most comfortable topics.
My husband and I feel so blessed to have our baby girl in our lives every single day. Even though she is exhausting sometimes, especially since she has only now started sleeping most of the night, she is worth every single bit of sleep deprivation and fatigue.
Our daughter is my inspiration not only for the work I’ve already been doing related to helping others nourish their own emotional and physical health, but now on my new endeavor to obtain my Masters of Health Administration. I believe that with the counseling background and education I already have, I will be able to do some really positive work in helping further the movement for better integrated health practices. If you’re not sure what that means, it’s when mental health is addressed in conjunction with physical health when you go to a healthcare facility. It’s important because many times emotional difficulties will cause physical manifestations, such as when you have headaches or back pain because you are stressed out or anxious. Emotional challenges can also arise after troublesome health diagnoses, as in the case of someone becoming depressed during an illness that won’t seem to go away.
I think both mental and physical health are equally important in supporting the overall well-being of all of us, and I hope to do my part in making sure that effective integrated health practices are in place in my future work.
Now, to combine both topics, children and health, I do want to share a wonderful statement I read today from the American College of Pediatricians. It is in response to a policy by the American Academy of Pediatrics that gives recommendations for physicians on prescribing contraceptives to adolescents. I will be honest that although my daughter is still very young, I (like many parents) am not extraordinarily thrilled by the fact that so many people talk about contraceptives and teens in such a nonchalant manner, as though they should be EXPECTED to have sex. I understand that sometimes things happen, and kids are always free to make their own decisions, so it is important for them to have some education on birth control practices. However, I don’t like the fact that so many teachers and other adults don’t even attempt to really teach young people about how to practice abstinence without questioning themselves or feeling like a social freak.
Miss Black California Lakita Garth said it best in her 1998 speech to Congress, when she said:
“I’ve spoken to nearly a million teenagers of different racial and socio-economic backgrounds in assemblies across America over the past 9 years. My greatest motivation in doing so is to empower them with some of the same tools I was fortunate enough to grow up with, which I feel are lacking in our culture today. The first thing I communicate to teens and adults alike is the fact that abstinence is not just shaking ones finger at a generation and telling them to ‘just say no’ to sex. Abstinence is a lifestyle. It is mastering the art of
Delay of self-gratification
These three components are not just the foundation of an abstinent lifestyle that will enable young people to postpone sexual evolvement, but the necessary traits every individual must have in order to achieve anything in life. I believe, I’m sure as any rational individual, that a permissive undisciplined lifestyle has never, and never will, produce sustained success or excellence. Many may ask what qualifies me to make such a bold statement. My great-aunt often said, ‘the proof is in the pudding.'”
She goes on to cite a study in Family Planning perspectives publication, which says that when more than 100 sexually active girls 16 and younger were asked what topic they wanted more information about, 84% of them chose this: “How to say NO without hurting the other person’s feelings.”
So, are we really giving our youth what they really need?
If you’d like to read the rest of Lakita’s speech, I highly encourage you to check it out here.
Now, here’s the response from the American College of Pediatricians, called “Promoting the Myth of ‘Safe Sex'”:
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in its policy statement Contraception for Adolescents, promotes the myth of “safe sex” while ignoring the dire consequences that early sexual activity can have upon young people. Even when contraception is used, early sexual debut has been associated with negative consequences including multiple sexual partners, sexually transmitted infections (STI), increased likelihood of psychological injury (feelings of regret, depression, suicidal attempts), greater substance abuse, and lower academic achievement. Delaying sexual activity, ideally until marriage, has been associated with improved emotional and physical health, higher achievement, and a more stable marriage.
The AAP erroneously conveys the impression that sexual activity is an expected recreational activity among most teens and that contraception is the answer. The authors state that contraception is a “pillar in reducing adolescent pregnancy rates.” Making this the central message of any pregnancy prevention message is ill-fated and, as history has shown, less effective than an abstinence message. While contraception can prevent pregnancy, it does not mitigate the negative consequences noted above.
The policy enthusiastically proclaims the greater effectiveness of pharmaceutical contraception over condom use, while blatantly ignoring the harms of promiscuous sexual activity to the individuals involved. The approach of the policy appears to subtly facilitate harmful behavior on the merits of reducing (but not eliminating) the risk of harm. The implied message in this contraception promotion is that early sexual activity is harmless as long as condoms and contraception are used.
Also, by emphasizing risk reduction (contraception), the statement marginalizes risk avoidance (abstinence). The statement instructs physicians to encourage adolescents to “delay sexual onset until they are ready.” No mention, however, is made of delaying until marriage, nor involving parents in this all important life-decision. The statement in fact goes to great lengths to emphasize the physician’s legal requirement to keep all sex history away from the teen’s parents. Given the life-altering consequences of early sexual activity, it is a travesty to ban a parent from such a discussion. Research documents that teens benefit greatly from parental monitoring, oversight, and accountability. Teens with involved parents are actually more likely to delay their sexual debut.
Dr. Den Trumbull, president of the American College of Pediatricians, states, “Our primarymessage to adolescent patients must not be contraception, but rather the tremendous physical, psychological and even future marital benefits in delaying all sexual activity until after marriage. Anything less is a compromise.”
As in any life decision, young people will always be free to make their own choice when it comes to their own sexuality. But they should at least be given a thorough education about the pros and cons of ALL of their options. I share the hope of being able to one day share with my daughter and other young people, the beauty and truth about what has unfortunately become the unpopular and overlooked choice.
Sorry for such a long post. Does this make up for not writing for such a long time?