In America, this is Prom time. It's a time when young men and women get dressed up, go to a catered dinner at a fancy banquet hall and dance the night away. The popular ones will be crownded King and Queen or at least be named for the Homecoming Court. Others will stay home and a few brave ones (at least in my generational view) will go alone. In my day, if you were solo you didn't go. Period. It was a couples function. No more. If you are unattached you can still partake in the evening's festivities. I wonder if they buy themselves their own corsage?
But, one thing has not changed since my day: the rite of passage after-prom trek down the shore. However, while the destination has remained the same, the amount of time spent down there has not. In my day (oh how that sounds so...archaic!), one drove down to the beach on only a few hours of sleep from the evening before. We'd arrive bleary eyed in the early hours of the next day ready for a day of fun. I'm not quite sure why we went so early. Prom for us was usually before Memorial Weekend, the official "opening" of the summer season so nothing was really open yet. But, we all felt so very grown up going off on our own with our own agendas.
So, we'd arrive en masse to the shore location of our choice, although it seemed we all favored mostly the same spots. We'd frolick on the sand, dip our toes in the ice cold sea, eat some fast food somewhere and then call it a day in late afternoon to face the long drive back home. That was sufficient for us back then.
Ah, but that was then, this is now. Nowadays kids make post-Prom an entire weekend. They pile into hotel rooms and party hearty without adult supervision. That most are under 18 and still considered minors by the law of the land doesn't seem to faze anyone. Their parents reserve and pay for the rooms. Someone always knows someone who is old enough to supply the alcohol...and of course, because as I was told today over lunch, "kids will be kids," there will most likely also be sex going on as well.
Kids will be kids, I was told. The group consensus was that nothing much could be done. This was the way it is now, besides kids could have sex anytime. They didn't need to wait for post-Prom weekend!
I was taught that people rise to your level of expectation. If we expect our children to indulge in sexual relations, then they probably will. After all, society says it's ok. Just take a look at what's being offered to our teens on television. There is one show on now that showcases its teenaged characters having sex, drinking and using drugs. There are no adults around, no repercussions for their behavior or choices and certainly no one telling them they shouldn't be doing these things---not on the show, nor the writers. The tone is that this is what kids do, no judgement, no lessons, no punishment.
Really? Is it foolhearty to think that our children could be offered different choices; that their fate is not yet sealed? If we never offer checks and balances, whose fault is it when our children then do what they want or are pressured by peers to join in and have no resources to say no? After all, if their parents don't seem to have a problem with it, then why should they? And, even if the child hesitated or didn't feel ready, since everyone else was going or doing it and even their own parents didn't say no, how could they have the strength and courage to not go along with the flow? It would take a very strong individual indeed.
I think there are more teens than society gives credit to who don't want to indulge in premarital sex. Now, if these teens had the knowledge that there were programs and people backing them up, I wonder how many more would step forward for their convictions?
Having sex isn't a right. It's an intimate act; it's a loving act. Our children need to respect and shelter their bodies right alongside their hearts and souls. We worry about their education, we worry about their feelings so why don't we worry about them offering themselves to someone who may not love them back, may have a disease or impregnate them?
Instead of offering them condoms, instead of renting hotel rooms for them, instead of shrugging it off with "kids will be kids" mentality, why don't we give them reasons to wait? Not with brimstone and fire reasons but reasons that will connect and communicate with them.
Kids are kids, which means they are not adults. We should, as parents and a society, role model for them how to respect, honor and love themselves enough to say no to behavior that is potentially harmful mentally, physically...and yes, spiritually.
Let's turn the tide by continuing to disapprove of parents who look the other way or give subtle permission to behave irresponsibly. Let's stop the message of "it's ok to have sex" aimed at our children by complaining to networks and movie producers who glamorize this type of behavior and fool our children into thinking it's ok and "everyone is doing it" because the truth is, they are not.