Ep 196 – Abstinence

Panel Discussion

Posted July 22nd, 2015

As a parent who has essentially left religion behind, how do you talk about sex with your kids now that the pseudo-authority of God, Prophets, and Scriptures is no longer there to back you up? One listener sent in an “Abstinence Contract” that has made its way around some Utah high schools. Glenn talks about that Abstinence Contract with his two teenage daughters.


  • Ophanim

    you would think that birth control works, but I know someone who had a molar pregnancy – i.e. when an egg is fertilized by two sperm at the same time, an IUD dislodged and was floating around and took 2 surgeries to find and remove, and a pregnancy where she was absolutely consistent on taking her birth control, and yet there is this cute little daughter born – the 1 – 2% chance for pregnancy is real and condoms are horrible.

  • Jeremy

    This is a sneaky way to have a good discussion with your daughters about all this. I should have started a podcast.

    • Malachi

      Haha, you’re right. My son is 3, I’ve still got time to start one up!

  • Chicago

    Glenn seems like a smart guy — but his daughters are smarter. #eternalprogression

  • Tierza Rose Askren

    Really brave discussion to post Glenn! I admit that discussing sex with my kids is a little bit scary – but I had the advantage of attending a very good sex ed course in 9th grade in Minnesota which then opened a fairly open conversation with my dad which lasted years and years.

    I liked how you used these topics to share your own thoughts and ideas with your daughters and to allow them to share their ideas back.

    The biggest problem(s) with this list is that it takes all autonomy away from the kids – everything having to do with having sex is portrayed as negative and the are required to declare that they will abstain from sex.

    I honestly hope my kids have sex before they get married and I also hope they stay safe and careful when they do. To that end I have looked toward finding excellent sex education for my kids. At one point I was working with John Larsen to start up classes at White Fields using the amazing Our Whole Lives curriculum. I totally dropped the ball on that but it is still in my mind. And you can find those classes (O.W.L.s) at Unitarian Universalist congregations and United Churches of Christ. They are well designed, complete, frank, and the teachers are required to be well trained and diverse.

    Meanwhile, I have given some thought to defining what I mean by “ready” to my kids and I think one of the best perimeters I have ever heard is:

    You are not ready to have sex until you are comfortable having – and have in fact had – a frank and open conversation with your partner about protection, sexual health, consent and what will happen if something goes wrong.

    I know adults who couldn’t do that and I know very few teenage couples in which both partners would be capable or interested in having that conversation and my guidance for my kids will be – if it (the conversation) doesn’t happen neither does the sex. I know it’s a bit idealized but it also makes your child the owner of their sexuality, it gives them a specific place to aim for “being ready” and it doesn’t make sex something that is bad until it is magically good. It is just something you are either ready for or you are not.

  • Ashley1313

    It’s interesting to me the effect that time and age can have on one’s views on a particular topic. I’m about 10 years older than Glenn’s older daughter and at times I felt that the girl’s responses to the statements were pedantic and at others flippant. That being said, I’m sure that at 18 I probably would’ve been just as dismissive of an “abstinence contract” having already made the decision to have sex at 16 (I was not your typical good little mormon girl).

    The only real criticism that I have of this conversation is that it felt dismissive of those who DO want to choose abstinence because that is a valid choice, especially in high school, it just shouldn’t be the only option being discussed. Also, I think I would’ve put more emphasis on the VERY REAL emotional toll that unplanned pregnancy can take on a person whether they choose to carry a pregnancy to term or not. I would tell the girls that just because you’ve made the decision to abort the pregnancy or give the child up for adoption and you’ve made peace with that decision, that doesn’t mean that it won’t be painful. The hormones that rage through a pregnant woman’s body are a force of nature and don’t always make rational decisions easy to make. I’m grateful that I never had to make that decision but I know many women who have and even though it was the right choice for them, it still hurts.

    If your daughters haven’t already read it, might I suggest they read “The Purity Myth” by Jessica Valenti. I had my teenage sister read it and I suspect that your girls may find it interesting and will agree with a lot of what the book has to say.

    Glenn, I admire you for being so open and honest with your daughters. You seem like a really great dad.

  • Odell

    I really admire the relationship you have with your daughters. Your daughters are smart people and obviously are learning to think for themselves. Great podcast!

  • Craig Keeling

    Lol “John Hamer says nooooo”

    • Not a Saint

      Yes, yes. I love love love this new thing.

  • Pam

    I walked away from this with a lot. Thanks Glenn. AND your daughters? SO, so thoughtful and articulate. I really enjoyed listening to their thoughts.

  • hetaira

    Great gals, thanks for sharing. I’m troubled by the school’s use of such tendentious wording, like: “I refuse to live through…” which could plant the thought that suicide is the better option in some cases – really horrible. And although the discussion might be worthwhile (the way you did it), such a contract is not something a school or teacher should be pushing onto students.