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Where will your teenagers learn about sex, love and marriage?

Most teenagers and young adults want to marry.
They want togetherness, security, a family — happiness!
Yet, teenage marriages are shattered by divorce at an unprecedented rate!


FULLY FIFTY PERCENT of all teenage marriages end in divorce within five years! The younger a person marries, the greater his or her chances of marital failure. And to compound the problems, about half of all American brides are teenagers!

WHY this ugly social problem? It's about time parents and teenagers understood.


Who's Teaching "the Birds and the Bees?"

Many experts have actually pinpointed the cause, but no one seems to heed. Most marital difficulties, say the experts, are caused by the MISINFORMED SOURCES from which young people get their ideas on sex, dating and choosing a mate!

A recent survey was conducted to find out WHERE young people get information and ideas on sex, love and marriage.

This question was put to PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) members across the country. The results were shocking! Twenty-two percent of them mentioned other children as their sons' and daughters' sources of information. Some of these influences were considered good, and many were not so good" (Love and the Facts of Life, Evelyn Duvall, p. 72).

The statistics vary from survey to survey. In another survey, mentioned later, approximately 25% of the teenagers cited their peer group as a major source of ideas about sex and marriage. Still other studies found that between ONE THIRD and ONE HALF of both boys and girls named friends as their chief source of information.

In any case, the point is that friends and peers very heartily influence teenager's sex and marriage knowledge.

One might well have some qualms about other children as sex educators and wonder about the nature of the "education." Can young boys and girls really have complete and mature knowledge about the subject? Their very preoccupation with sex reveals a poor orientation as to what it's all about.


Teachers Are Failing

In this same nationwide survey, young men and women revealed other sources influencing their ideas on sex, love and marriage. A few, but only a few, pointed to the churches and schools as their sources of information.

"Studies since 1960 find fewer than three percent of today's youth crediting their religious leaders with their sex education. Scout leaders, doctors, nurses, and other responsible professional persons are of help to EQUALLY SMALL percentages of today's teenagers" (Duvall, p. 70). Those who should have studied — and have the experience and maturity to offer some help — are reaching only a few. Of course, many doctors, religious leaders, educators are themselves having marital problems.

School systems are reaching only a few more than the churches. Unfortunately, up to this time, there has been very little increase in the number of young people who get what they need from the schools. In 1938, 8% of the young people studied by the American Youth Commission gave the school as the source of their sex education.

Since 1960, studies have found about the same small percentage of teenagers crediting either teachers or school counselors with teaching them this vital knowledge.

Few young people feel they are receiving much essential marriage education in our schools.


How About Books?

A survey revealed that one out of every three boys and one out of four girls said they learned what they knew about dating and marriage preparation from reading books.

The question is, "What kind of books and what information do they contain?" Some few books undoubtedly are helpful, but sane and balanced books on sex and marriage are seldom found — and seldom read. Much of the education is coming from racy novels, love stories, true confessions, soap operas, advertisements, movies and the like — sources filled with mis-education.

One co-ed in a private university in New York put it this way, "I actually think young couples are pressured into sex today because of what they think everybody else is doing, what they see on television, in the movies and what Madison Avenue promotes." Young people who try to pattern their lives after the fiction of books and movies are in for a shock! The result is experimentation with premarital sex, early marriage — and often divorce. But no happiness.

There are also the "self-help" books which claim to give all the facts on sex, love and marriage.

Take a look at what some of these authorities are writing concerning love and marriage.

Here's a quote from the book, Love, Sex and the Teenager, written by Dr. R. L. Lorand, a leading psychotherapist and psychoanalyst. The book is fully endorsed by other "authorities" and readily available in print.

Notice what the author tells teenagers and PARENTS:

He asks this question. "How do I know if I'm in love?"

The answer: "Being in love is above all things stimulating and exhilarating. The natural tendency to greatly overestimate the beloved is what makes people say that love is blind. The person you are in love with is the greatest and most divine person in the world. And the fact that this extraordinary, HEAVEN-SENT CREATURE loves you makes you feel like a very special person yourself. Boys feel that no feat is too difficult, girls feel that no sacrifice is great enough to prove their love. One's heart is open, the world is paradise and EVERYTHING is possible. LOVERS ARE LUNATICS is just another way of saying you're usually slightly out of your mind when you're in love — the most delicious form of insanity `known to man.'

"In a sense, one's ego stops functioning. It temporarily CEASES TO JUDGE REALITY with any degree of accuracy. " (p. 161, emphasis ours).

There you have it!

With advice like that, most young couples simply rush into marriage — without thinking of the consequences. Their heads are swimming with idyllic ideas of romance — that never come to pass in reality.


The Influence of Parents

Parents may not realize how much their children look to them for marital guidance. "Surveys since 1960 have turned up 40% of the parents credited by their children with their sex education [also, this would presuppose marriage instruction]. Considerably more girls than boys say that they get their sex education in their own homes . . ." (Love and the Facts of Life, Duvall, p. 68).

In another survey, the question was asked: "Where do most of your ideas about marriage come from?" The 121 girls interviewed listed the following sources:


   TV & Movies 16
   Friends 30
   Oneself 35
   Home 73


Since "oneself" as a source is dubious and impossible (we know nothing at birth and must learn everything), parents come out as the overwhelming source of information about marriage. At least, so said the girls.

To what degree do Dad and Mom affect their children? Recently a rather large survey was conducted trying to discover to what extent close family ties affect the morality of children. This survey disclosed that those who are most influenced by their families were the least sexually promiscuous.

What does this. mean? It means that parents have a profound effect on how their children will conduct their lives after leaving home. Yes, and even how happy their marriages will be.

Many young people earnestly desire help from their parents. Many more need to. Parents should know their children better than any living human being. They are in the best position to offer the help that young people need. But do even they have the answers? Unfortunately, not as often as they should!

"A considerable number [of parents] volunteered the information that even though they thought they ought to discuss the facts of life with their children, they actually found that they were tongue-tied when confronted with their children's sex questions.

"Many of the mothers admitted being UNCOMFORTABLE AND UNEASY in talking about the personal side of life with their own children. Some of them recognize that their embarrassment stemmed from their own inadequate sex education from their parents. As one mother put it, 'In my growing-up years we just didn't ask. We simply guessed at answers and put two and two together on our own"' (Duvall, p. 58).

Questions on sex, love and marriage have puzzled more than a few parents. Dad and Mom often find that the lessons they learned in the school of hard knocks are not always easy to put into words. Often they just DON'T KNOW the answers because their parents didn't teach them.

Parents should have the background and ability to teach their children. And by the fact that they are parents, they have the responsibility of being the best marriage counselors for their children. Who, but a parent, understands his child well enough to give such personal advice and help?

It's not that many parents are apathetic and just don't care. Most do. As a sociologist at San Diego State College put it: "The main problem is the lack of any real guidance here." Parents usually end up doing nothing. "There are hundreds of thousands," said one worker, "who out of their own dilemmas, unhappiness, UNSUITABILITY AS PARENTS, lack of discipline or a myriad of characteristics have created and exerted pressures on their daughters for early marriage" (Teenage Marriage and Divorce, edited by S. M. Farber, and R. H. Wilson, p. 33).

If these parents aren't aware that girls generally SHOULD NOT marry as teenagers, one has reason to wonder about other "instruction" on sex, love, and marriage.