her boyfriend and still keep him interested? when to have sex? how to
have sex in the most comfortable and satisfying way? how to avoid
pregnancy? how to deal with her own doubts, fears and guilt? how to
handle her parents and their disapproval? No wonder the young
woman feels "I'm in this all by myself. I don't have any help." No
wonder there is an epidemic of teenage pregnancies.
To make matters worse, if the young women decide to have
("permit" may be a better word) unprotected sex, many of these
teenagers will not even enjoy the sex. People who work with teenaged
mothers say they commonly had intercourse only a few times, and it
was after school with their clothes on, while they were rushed or
"scared to death" they would be caught, and they did it "just for the
boy" (Goodman, 1983). Then, the "boy" abandons them! And, they
fear pregnancy! This is ridiculous. What a thoughtless act. What a
terrible waste of one of life's most precious and glorious moments.
What a crushing blow to a fragile ego and to an aching heart. We
adults and friends don't have all the answers, but we can surely help
our children avoid such stupid, regretful situations. We can help young
people--girls and boys --make better decisions, have better self-
control and birth-control, relate more considerately with each other,
handle their feelings more wisely, etc.
When deciding about sex, we are also pushed and pulled by our
own strong emotions and feelings. We may desperately want the other
person to love us, our love and sexual needs drive us constantly and
distort our thinking, the threat of loneliness haunts us, fears of
intimacy (of moving too rapidly) and possible rejection lurk in the
background, concerns about parents' reactions and religious
condemnation may be felt, worries about pregnancy and our financial
future concern us, and we fear our sexual performance will be totally
inadequate. This situation is hardly conducive to rational decision-
making. In such an intense and complex situation, one can see that
the old trite advice "do what you feel like doing" is rather foolish. We
all surely know we must use our brain before using our genitals.
Beware of soothsayers
With a dearth of scientific information, limited unrealistic guidance
from religion, little help from sex education, and mixed messages from
the media, we may rely too heavily on one or two others' opinions
about sexual choices. Everyone seems to know what should be done.
Some people think that whatever they have done sexually is the best
choice for everyone. This attitude obviously serves their psychological
needs but this doesn't help the young decision-maker very much, since
his/her situation is different from all others. For other advice-givers,
their thinking is "don't do what I did." A third kind of sexual advice-
giver doesn't reveal his/her history but knows with certainty there is
only one right way to live, all the rest are foolish, neurotic, or immoral.
So, in short, some opinions should be taken "with a grain of salt;"
however, there is one opinion, as I see it, that should be taken very
seriously, namely, your own religious or moral beliefs. Not your