Sexuality education programs for parents
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SEXUALITY EDUCATION PROGRAMS FOR PARENTS. The Doha International Conference for the Family THE ASIA PACIFIC FAMILY DIALOGUE Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 11-13, 2004 Mary Lee O’Connell, C.R.N.P. The key to delaying preteen and teen sexual activity.

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The Doha International Conference

for the Family


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

October 11-13, 2004

Mary Lee O’Connell, C.R.N.P.

The key to delaying preteen and teen sexual activity

  • Research confirms parents make the greatest difference in their children’s sexual decisions.

  • Sexuality education programs for parents can be a key component in the effort to encourage teens to postpone sexual activity.

Parents: Missing an Opportunity?

  • Close to nine out of ten adults who want to talk with their children about sex said they don’t know what to say, how to say it, or when to start

  • Less than half of teens strongly agreed they are getting a clear message that teen pregnancy is wrong.

    National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Children are more likely to delay sexual activity if mothers…..

  • Take a firm, unequivocal line against premarital sex

  • Have a good relationship with teen - If satisfied with mother’s relationship, teen is twice as likely to abstain than teens with a low level of satisfaction

  • Avoid discussing birth control

    1996 Family Planning Perspectives, 28(4), 159-165

Who delays sexual activity?

Teens in grades 7-12 who report:

  • High levels of parent-family “connectedness”= 0.85 RR (95% CI)

  • Perceived parent disapproval of adolescent sex = 0.79 RR (95% CI)

  • Perceived parent disapproval of adolescent contraception= 0.75 RR (95% CI)

    JAMA. 1997; 278:823-832

Values & Decisions about Sex

  • Parental/moral factors are more important than friends, the media, teachers and sex educators.

  • 53% of teens (age 12-19) say parents or their own morals, values and religious beliefs influence decisions about sex.

    National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. (2001, 2002).

    With One Voice: American Adults and Teens Sound Off About

    Teen Pregnancy. Washington, DC

Modify faith-based programs for secular settings

“Students need to develop values as part of

their character, and character education

must help students to internalize what is

right and lend strong support to doing the

right thing.”

“Character-based sex education, in its true

definition, is our best hope for the children

in public schools.”

Weaving Character into Sex Education books/pamphlets

Why 15-17 year olds don’t ask parents?

  • Concern about parents’ reaction (83%)

  • Worry parents would think they are having sex (78%)

  • Don’t know how to bring up the subject (77%)

  • Believe parents would not understand (64% )

    Kaiser Family Foundation (2002)

Mother reports discussing



Pressure to have sex……….....71%

When to start having sex…….63%


development ….......……….51%

Family Planning Perspectives, 30(5),

Teen reports

Girl Boy






218-222 & 235

What mother is saying and what teens remember

Parent programs help parents know “What to say”

  • What to say depends on what their kids want to know

  • How to be an “askable” parent

  • Provide frequently asked questions

  • Role-play how to answer questions

  • Learn that other parents share concerns

  • “Homework” – handouts, a list of books and websites

What are kids asking about?

Helping parents know “How to say it”

  • Dialogue is better than monologue

  • Interactive communication more effective

  • “Lecture” format makes children feel unheard, intruded upon, disrespected

  • Teach how to use role-play, decision trees and choreographed discussions

    Ginsberg, K. (2001). “But I’m Almost 13!”: An Action Plan for

    Raising a Responsible Adolescent. New York: Mc Graw Hill.

Helping parents know “When to start”

  • Easier before puberty begins

  • Easier in the car: private & no eye contact

  • HIV sexual risk prevention more effective in middle school than high school

  • Parents who attended a NYC program encouraging parent-child communication about HIV/AIDS were three times more likely to talk with their child about AIDS

Developing Parent Programs: Challenges & Solutions

  • Leadership Team not one/two people

  • Funding best with a line-item guarantee

  • Child care and light meal (ask for a donation) increase attendance

  • Guidelines for what is age-appropriate

  • Know school’s sexuality education guidelines, content and scheduling

  • Plan parent program before school program

Parent-Child Workshops(Project Genesis Family Workshops)

  • Fertility appreciation (Puberty Education) shares God’s plan for the gift of sexuality, prepares child for physical and psychological changes of puberty and answers age-appropriate questions.

  • How to save sex for marriage (Sexuality Education) focuses on abstinence/chastity, falsehoods behind media’s “safe sex” message, encourages parent-child communication and help teens develop virtues and skills needed to make right decisions

    Leaflet Missal Company, St. Paul, MN, USA

Activities from “How to Save Sex for Marriage: A Family Workshop”

  • Communication - How well do you know your parent? How well do you know your teen? Family Values Interview; The Readiness Questions; Setting Standards

  • Skills Building – The Trouble Rule (the questions to ask if you’re not sure); Refusal Skills Model; Effective Ways to Say “No”

    Leaflet Missal Company, St. Paul, MN, USA

Family Honor (

  • Learning & Loving (for parents only)

  • Changes & Challenges (for parents with their 6th grade son or daughter)

  • Real Love & Real Life (for parents with their 7th or 8th grade son or daughter)

  • Created to Love: Honoring God’ Gift (for parents with their high school teens)

    CD-ROM-based teacher training program

If mom or dad is not there

  • Other-sex parent or grandparent welcome

  • Enlist family & friends’ help for a same-sex mentor to attend and help answer child’s more personal body related questions.

  • Grandparent providing care or parents sharing custody? Get duplicate handouts and books to have a consistent message


Faith communities and public schools have a responsibility to step forward and help parents prepare their children for puberty and provide sexuality education within the home.

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