There’s been a lot of talk lately about the AIDS epidemic- both in the U.S. and abroad.
It’s been my stance, since day one, that one of the keys to curbing what is fast becoming a plague is education.
The abstinence-only approach isn’t just unrealistic- it is dangerous.
It simply isn’t enough.
Some people may take well to a lesson on abstinence, but many others will ignore it entirely.
Too often, parents use abstinence as a cop-out. It’s an excuse not to have to talk about things we do not feel comfortable discussing.
As parents, we need to get over it.
We must educate our children. We must remove the stigma that is currently attached to having open, candid conversations with them.
AIDS will kill our babies if we don’t.
My oldest daughter, The Diva (she’s 10), was trying to make some money by doing extra chores the other day.
She decided to clean out The Hippie Andino’s car- he’s my 25 year-old baby brother.
I thought this was a wonderful idea.
When she was done with the job, she came back inside, and I immediately noticed the look of horror on her face. She was holding something in her hand, though I couldn’t tell what it was.
“What’s wrong?” I ask.
She answers, in an accusing tone, “Look what I found in The Hippie Andino’s trunk…”, and shoves the contents of her hand in my face.
When I saw what she was holding, I could immediately feel the heat in my cheeks. Though I really had no reason to be, I found myself embarrassed for her.
She was holding a tattered box of condoms.
I was confused by her tone… why is she being accusatory? Why is she acting as my brother is doing something wrong by having safe sex?
I decided to take this opportunity to speak candidly with my child- and hopefully turn this into a teaching moment.
So I asked her, “Why would you be upset?”
She responded, “Because- they’re condoms. Gross.”
I said to her, “He is being responsible. He’s having safe sex. He isn’t getting anyone pregnant, and he is protecting himself and his partner from sexually transmitted diseases.”
I explained that while condoms may seem “gross” to her right now, they are important.
They save lives.
The Diva’s world opened up just a little at that moment.
She didn’t view those condoms in disgust or contempt any longer, and with great relief I realized, she gets it.
It isn’t necessary to constantly harp on our children, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week about the horrors of sex and AIDS.
This particular exchange took less than five minutes, from start to finish.
We can educate our babies a step at a time- provided we start the process early enough. By the time they find themselves old enough to be faced with these grave decisions, they will have already had all the information they need to make the right choices.
Hopefully, by then, it will be second nature.
With absolutely no bombarding whatsoever- by taking advantage of the little teaching moments life throws our way- we can raise our kids to be responsible adults…
… One educational opportunity at a time.