Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality #51.
Current research shows that a child is greatly influenced by what a parent thinks and says. For more than 35 years, organizations that study youth behavior throughout the U.S. have asked middle and high school youth questions about risk behaviors like drugs, sex outside of marriage, and violence. These organizations have also asked questions about pro-social activities like school success, community service and future planning. The results from these surveys have consistently shown that students who have regular conversations with their parents are more likely to avoid risk behaviors while students who rarely talk with their parents are more likely to engage in risk behaviors.
to avoid necessary conversations with their young adults.
This secular research confirms the teachings of the Catholic Church that parents are the primary educators of their children. In God’s plan, parents are meant to be important and influential to their children. And, this significant bond is meant to last for the duration of one’s life. Unfortunately, many parents wrongly believe that two things happen during the teen years; their children are influenced more by their peers and that parents no longer have an obligation to influence and guide. Both of these assumptions are unfounded. The fact remains that kids long to share what they are experiencing with their parents throughout their life. They want the security of knowing that their parents will listen and give them moral answers to their questions no matter how old they are.
It is heartbreaking that many parents choose to avoid necessary conversations with their young adults. Instead of capitalizing on the daily opportunities to connect with their children, many parents become silent or indifferent, letting their children navigate the pitfalls of adolescence alone. The result of either silence or indifference is an increase in risk behavior and family strife. That is why parents have to do all they can to find their voice and talk with their kids.
What type of guidance and direction are youth craving during their middle and high school years? Youth really want their parents to provide direction on matters that mean something to them. In the last segment, you learned that youth want to know who they are and why they exist. Both of these questions are related to their ability to connect with others and ultimately with God. They want their parents to help them figure out what is genuine and honest, even when the direction is not to their liking. They do not want spin and hype that brings temporary happiness and they may even tolerate having their feelings hurt as long as it means they are being guided towards what is ultimately right and good. They want the truth and they want it framed in morality.
Morality focuses on what is best in any given situation. In fact, morality is the way that parents can steer a conversation towards a decision or action that is based on God’s will and commandments rather than emotions. It allows parents to concentrate on what is best for the child in the long run rather than on what might feel good for the moment. It turns the discussion towards what is right rather than to what is possible (what one can get away with). Finally, morality helps parents find their voice so that they can enter into the necessary conversations that should take place during after puberty.
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