Today is my first official guest on this here blog and I would like everyone to give a warm welcome to Ms. Joyce Scarbrough. This lovely author is here to talk to us about a somewhat controversial topic that I think many of us can get behind – if nothing else than to acknowledge the necessity of discussing it. Please, take the time to read her article and, as always, I look forward to the discussion in the comments section. Without much further ado, Joyce Sterling Scarbrough!
“Teach Your Children Well”
By Joyce Sterling Scarbrough
In an interview with PEOPLE magazine earlier this year, Bristol Palin said: “If girls realized the consequences of sex, nobody would be having sex. Trust me. Nobody.”
Bristol, honey, even my son knew what had caused his mommy to have his little sister when he was four years old. He even explained it succinctly to the little girl next door while they were watching an episode of LASSIE in which Lassie had puppies. He took his thumb out of his mouth, turned to his friend Krista and said, “Mommies have eggs, daddies have berm.” (Okay, he may not have been able to pronounce “sperm,” but he knew what it meant!)
My point is that I don’t think ignorance of the consequences is the underlying problem with teenage pregnancy. Sure, abstinence and avoidance of temptation are the best preventatives, but most teens are so bombarded with hormones and the inundation of conscienceless sex they get from the entertainment industries that it just isn’t realistic to expect them to ignore all their urges. No matter how wrong they believe it to be or how much we hope and pray our kids won’t do it, teenagers have been having sex since the beginning of time, and I don’t foresee it stopping anytime soon.
Right after it was published, my first novel, TRUE BLUE FOREVER, was reviewed by a Christian book reviewer who said that while she greatly enjoyed the story herself, she couldn’t recommend it to teenaged readers because it was “written from an amoral standpoint. The protagonists abstain from sex before marriage not because it is wrong, but because they fear pregnancy will keep them from their goals. When they do succumb to temptation, their actions are not shown to be immoral, but merely premature.”
I take issue with that. My own son was 16 years old when I wrote TRUE BLUE FOREVER, so I put a lot of serious thought into what message teens would get from it. Ultimately, I decided that my book’s message is that even the unusually smart, responsible teenage couples can make bad choices that cause them serious problems, but they have to learn from their mistakes and take responsibility for their actions. I also wanted to show that it takes only “one time” and your life and the lives of at least two other people are changed forever.
And I disagree that TBF is written from an amoral standpoint. I teach my own children as I was taught: that premarital sex is wrong as well as dangerous, but I also remember vividly what it’s like to be 16 and know I was a lot like Jeana, my heroine. As smart and level-headed as she is, her judgment goes completely awry in the heat of the moment, and all her best intentions and morals are for naught. Sure, it’s best not to put yourself in situations that make temptation too easy to give in to, but even teens with the best intentions sometimes get caught off guard. And it doesn’t make them bad nor stupid.
Every parent, of course, has the right to decide what they want their children to read, but I had absolutely no reservations about letting my own children read TBF. When my daughters read it at 14, we talked about all these issues, and they both surprised and impressed me with the insightful things they said during our conversations. I believe my book is useful for parents and teachers to open up these same kinds of discussions with other teens who read it, and a lot of good could come from that. As a matter of fact, my high school guidance counselor told me she thinks it should be required reading for all teenagers because it presents a realistic look at the consequences of pre-marital sex without being preachy, condescending, or judgmental.
And you get a darn good love story to boot, along with a lot of laughs and more than a few tears. If you’d like to see for yourself, you can get a copy here: http://tinyurl.com/yfuwh2y
If you like your characters a little older, pick up a copy of my latest book, SYMMETRY: http://tinyurl.com/ydrp7x3
Notice I said “older” and not necessarily more “mature.” Of course, I’m talking about the male characters! 😉