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Protecting Our Children

Are You Listening?

By JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton

As parents, we have a natural tendency to interpret what our youth say and often we interrupt. Because we base our understanding of what they say on our background and not theirs, so many times we misinterpret what they are saying. At times we do not listen long enough.

I was reminded of this as I was watching a video, “Sex & Young America,” produced by the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families. They had interviewed a lot of youth about sex education issues. One of their findings was that many youth prefer getting sex education information from their parents, although the youth interviewed felt that they seldom got it from that source.

These youth indicated that the values and information that they received from parents had more influence on them than information from peers. I think that this would surprise a lot of parents. Just as youth often don't feel they are listened to, many times parents feel the same.

Let me list some suggestions for parents that came from this video. I have re-worded a few of these comments and combined others in order to avoid being repetitious. Here are the comments of youth from across America:

“Parents need to talk to their kids, otherwise they get their ideas from the television and magazines.” This youth said she needed information by the time she was in the fourth grade.

“Know that you are listened to.” Some youth added, “even if we don't seem to listen.”

“Your understanding of what is going on around us is not necessarily what is going on. Please ask questions and listen.”

“I wish that my Mom would talk to me more.”

One youth said, “Talk to your kids. Talk to your kids. Talk to your kids. PLEASE talk to your kids.”

“Talk to your kids about porn and about sex.” Another one said, “Porn is out there and your kids have seen it.”

“I have a message for parents. It's not a matter of sheltering. Kids already know. Help kids to deal with it.”

“It's hard walking in hallways and having lunch. There is a lot of peer pressure.”

“Sex is happening in high schools and junior highs. You can walk down the hall and see the action. We don't get straight information. We get it in the halls.”

“Be open with your kids.”

“Tell your teens you care.”

“Parents can't be in denial.”

“Sometimes I need my parents to hold me.”

“Parents, how is your relationship with your teens? It's easy to get love elsewhere. Restore those relationships. Never give up on your children. Really try to understand them. This is meant to be a message of hope for parents. We will say thanks later.”

“Don't let your kids be alone in your house. Supervise kids. Don't leave them downstairs with TV. And know your children's friends. Have standards for your kids. Guard your TV, Internet, movies and mail.”

“Dads, talk to your daughter about sex. Show your daughter how she should be treated. Girls need hugs. They need to be told, ‘I love you so much.' They need to get it from their Dads.”

“Kiss your wife in the kitchen. We're watching. How you treat Mom is how we will expect to be treated. The world, the TV, the media can teach kids or you can do it.”

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