Today the local talk radio people were all going on about the fact that apparently Texas is winning the race to have the most pregnant teens in the country. I didn't hear the whole story on whatever it was that sparked all the chatter, but I was quite amused and extremely appalled at some of the comments made by the parents who called in. The one that bothered me the most was a man who said his daughter knew that if she ever showed up pregnant he'd disown her. Literally. No joke. Makes me wonder what other all or nothing conditions he puts on his love. What a way for his children to live.
I was most greatly amused by the people who truly believe that simply having their kids' butts in the church pew every time the doors are open will keep them from engaging in premarital relations. Oh don't we all wish it was that easy!?! This reminded me of my very
precocious devout days as a youth member of one particular local Baptist church...
Betsy*, Tom*, Bill*, and I met when we were all chosen to be members of one of the first Christian youth rock bands in Texas. You have to remember that in the 70s the idea of having drums and guitars in church was a pretty radical concept -- especially so in our small-town, staunch Southern Baptist church! Our progressive Youth Leader, however, was a visionary and talked Reverend N
utJ ob into allowing him to give it a try in an effort to get more kids interested in coming to church. We were actually pretty good and soon began receiving invitations to perform at other churches in the area. We were even invited to perform at a church in Dallas which meant an overnight trip. And that was the beginning of the end of our musical careers.
As you can imagine, since we spent so much time together we inevitably formed very close bonds and eventually paired off: Betsy and Tom; Bill and me. (The rest of the band members were all really weird guys, several of whom actually went on to professional music careers!) The only problem was that Betsy was Rev NJ's only daughter. Rev NJ was very protective of his flock. He was OBSESSIVELY protective of Betsy who was forbidden to date until she was at least 18. Her 15-year-old hormones had other plans, though, so we spent a good deal of time figuing out ways to get around the no-dating rule. We would have been in good shape if it hadn't been for that dang Dallas trip. The trip on which Miss Betsy lost her virginity. And her freaking mind!
Before the Dallas trip Betsy and Tom had been able to keep their relationship under wraps. They sat together during services, but always with a respectable distance between them; only holding pinkies with their hands down on the hardwood pew safely out of Daddy's sight. Afterward, they were like two lovesick octopuses: all arms and suckers. You couldn't slide a piece of paper between them with a battering ram! Their new postures did not go unnoticed by the Rev. (or anybody else with half an eyeball in their head!)
Always willing to give his baby girl the benefit of the doubt, he accepted her assurances that they were only friends. He did, however, warn her that fornication is a sin that would cause her to burn in hell with evilist of evil-doers. The warnings fell on deaf ears, because poor Betsy, though she tried as hard as she could, any time Tom was within reach she couldn't help but latch on and melt all over him. As the strong spritual leader he was, her father began to find clever ways of working morality messages into every sermon.
... "And the Lord gave us the trees and the flowers. He gave us the beasts of the field, the birds of the skies, and the bees of the garden. And it was all beautiful until we ruined it with
Didn't matter what the topic was, that man could figure out how to segway into FORRRNIIIICATION. After a while we realized that his segways always coincided with Tom touching Betsy and a whole new game was born: How many times can we get Rev NJ to scream FORRRNIIIICATION during the sermon. If memory serves me right, the record was 8.
Within 3 months of the Dallas trip our little group was disbanded (ha! punny!). Betsy was sent to a "private boarding school" where it was rumored that her healthy baby boy was adopted by a wealthy family from somewhere up in North Texas. The whole experience turned me totally off of church. It would be years before I would agree to try it again.
From all of that I learned that first and foremost, as a parent you cannot stick your head in the sand about what your kids can and will do if they decide they want to. You cannot make arbitrary, unbendable rules and expect your child to just follow them without question. You have to be open to hearing things you might not want to know; doing things you might not want to do. But above all, you have to keep your sense of humor. We all survived our teenage years. Our kids will, too.
I ran across this Sex Education film strip. Too bad Reverend Nut Job's not still around. Think of all the great sermon fodder he'd have to use to warn us all about the evils of FORRRRRNIIIICATION!"