May 29, 2006
The Washington Times reported last week on a consensus report on sexual health just issued by “wildly divergent political organizations.” Yet, in spite of this much-heralded consensus, no agreement was reached on “what constitutes sexual abstinence, responsible sexual behavior, sexual orientation and ‘medical accuracy,’ such as condom efficacy.”
So just what does consensus mean? In truth, it seems we are left with the same splits, divides and disagreements. Consider condoms. Long heralded as the KEY to solving problems associated with teen sex, you would think a national agreement on at least that one issue would exist by now.
Why Condoms Will Not Save Us
Teen parents Dan and Christy are just two people. I love them. They are personal, they live in my world. But their two lives speak of the millions of children and parents in our country today.
Dan’s parents love him. That has never been in doubt. It’s just that they couldn’t remain in love with each other. As Dan was maturing, he watched his parents argue, separate, reunite and then begin the cycle again–over and over again. Until one day, his mother sent divorce papers to his father. And it ended.
Dan’s mother was determined to make a good life for herself and her two children. She enrolled in a university, gained government assistance, and worked any part time job she could find. She supported him in his school work, rented movies to watch late at night with Dan and his older sister, and went to all of his basketball games.
Yet, the strain of the family breakup was too much. Dan missed his father, and his sister became ensnared in a cycle of drugs, truancy, and running away. His mother, working hard to deal with each emergency as it happened, was glad Dan seemed to be motivated at school and surrounded by good friends. She just didn’t have time to do everything.
Without a father at home, and with a mother and sister caught in a battle of teenage rebellion, Dan took solace in his friendships. And he sought affection in the arms of his high school sweetheart. Dan and Christy only had sex once. But that was enough to create a new life, Allyson.
Today, Allyson is being raised most of the time by her great-grandmother, Christy’s grandmother. Christy takes care of Allyson when she is at home. She and Dan broke up right after she knew she was pregnant, and Christy has had a steady string of boyfriends since then moving in and moving out of her life. And she is pregnant again.
After a paternity test proved Dan to be Allyson’s father, the court assigned him a support payment of $100 per month. He felt a sense of duty to meet this payment and began a pizza delivery job, but with his basketball practices and the demands on him as senior class treasurer, Dan finally quit work, and his mom took over the monthly payments.
Dan has just entered college on a basketball scholarship, and he tries to drive home on weekends to spend time with Allyson. He and Christy end up in court periodically to argue over custody arrangements that involve both sets of Allyson’s grandparents and her great-grandmother. Dan’s parents, both mother and father, along with a sister who has finally settled down, and aunts and uncles who love him, support him in his role as Allyson’s father. But it’s not easy. Dan’s grades last semester were low enough to threaten his scholarship.
And what about Allyson? She just celebrated her first birthday as a bright-eyed toddler.
In only twelve more years, Allyson will herself be a teenager. Meanwhile, who will be the adults in her life to guide her and love her? Will she grow up to seek love in the arms of a high school sweetheart? Will she ever know what it means to have two parents at home, a mother and a father who love and hug each other at night in the kitchen?
When she enters high school, will a teen pregnancy and a baby create a problem for Allyson? Or might they solve a problem for her? Might a teen pregnancy give Allyson’s life a focus, a meaning–a glimpse of the love and affection that seemed just out of reach in the few short years she had for learning what love and parenting are all about?
Yes, what about Allyson?
 Names have been changed to protect the privacy of these individuals.
April 30, 2004 –Condoms: A Failure to Protect
January 3, 2005 – Teen Sex: What’s the Problem?
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