I am a participant of the “Strengthening Families” class held on Thursday nights at the Jr. High. I had been aware of some attitude changes in my 14 year old son that prompted me to take this class as a proactive measure, in the hopes that we would all learn some tool to prevent the widespread problems of at-risk youth from happening in my home. For the most part, the class has thus far been a benefit too not just the three of us, but our entire family. However, your presentation last night was one of the most offensive diatribes I have heard, and I am appalled that you would use this class as an opportunity to present your personal beliefs as some sort of model to live up, that you would attempt to tell us that your way is the only way.
You mentioned several things in class last night that I would like to specifically address. The first thing is your assertion that marriage is the only way to have a healthy, loving, intimate relationship with someone, and that we not only have to make sure our children know that, but we have to not only prevent them from having sex but also refuse to provide birth control. If we provide access to birth control, we are telling our children that we think it is okay to have sex. One of the things you talked about was how we need to have these discussions with our children, and I agree. We also need to preface these discussions with “I love you so much that….” and I agree with that as well. However, you continues on with the statement, “I love you so much that I am not going to allow you to engage in premarital sex because you will regret it for the rest of your life,” and that is where my agreement ends. I have been married, twice, and I can attest to the fact that marriage itself is not the one thing required to enjoy a healthy level of intimacy with a person. In fact, at the risk of making you uncomfortable, I will tell you that my intimate life is far better with the man who is not and never will be my husband than it was with either of my husbands combined. You are operating under the premise that all marriages are loving, committed, fulfilled ones, where trust and mutual respect is a given, and you are expecting our children to hold out for those things as being things only a marriage can provide. Please don’t devalue those relationships where both partners are committed simply because there is no piece of paper to legitimatize it.
My suggestion, and what I have said and will continue to say to my children, is this: “I love you so much that I would really love to see you wait until you are in a committed relationship before engaging in sexual activity. However, I ALSO love you enough to make sure that if you DO choose to become intimate with someone, you will be as protected as I can make you be.” You talked, too, about how girls are willing to put themselves out there sexually, and at great risk to themselves; the boys, you said, will “just take it” if offered. As the mother of both a teen boy AND a teen girl, I find this offensive for several reasons. First off, I agree that girls are taking sexual risks every time they choose to have sex with someone. However, and to give you the benefit of the doubt I am sure you did not mean to come across this way, when you say that if it is offered the boys will take it, you are implying that they males in the scenario are somehow not to blame. In my opinion, the blame should be shared equally; we females are not offering sex like we are offering a cup of tea, and while there ARE young girls who think of sex in those callous of terms, then we should also be teaching the boys to not take what is being so freely offered. Responsibility is a two-way street, and if we women are supposed to respect our bodies then the males should also be taught to do so.
As a woman in the year 2008, I was mortified by your willingness to state, out loud, that you believe the Women’s Movement/Feminism was one of the worst things ever to happen in our society. While I have no intention of telling you that what you choose to believe to be right is, in fact, wrong, I want you to stop and look at the incongruity of your statements. You felt free to mention the election, in which you voted. You are standing in from of us, a working mother of an adopted five year old boy. You are married to a man who provides everything you need financially. N., has it not occurred to you that you are where you are BECAUSE of the women’s movement? Women years ago forged the way for you to vote, to be able to have a job that you love and to make the choice to have a son in daycare while you pursue a career and get paid for it. The women’s movement has enable you to appear in public in denim jeans and high-heeled boots, and to wear a shirt that leaves your neck and chest visible to a room full of mixed company. Our beautiful, strong, independent ancestors fought so that you would have ability to make your own choices and have the freedom to stand up in front of a room full of men and women and help them learn how to make better choices-please don’t denigrate all they have worked toward by telling us how wrong it is. And if you truly believe it to be wrong, leave. Go home, take off your boots and cook your husband and son dinner; that is where you belong, right? So get out of the classroom and into the bedroom, where all good women belong after they have fulfilled their household duties.
The other two things I am choosing to address (and believe me when I could say I could take your entire 2 hour presentation and pick it apart point by point, but I picked only the things that made me the most angry) go hand in hand: your comment about how a father is the single most important person in a child’s life, and how we now no longer need to worry about taking care of ourselves or our children because Obama is going to come in and take care of everyone.
I do agree that fathers are important in their kids’ lives, undoubtedly. However, to say that they are the single most important person in a child’s life is not only unfair, but also inaccurate. I would like to point out to you the fact that of all of the parents in this classroom, I am the only single parent. My children’s fathers have been at best uninterested and uninvolved in the day to day raising of all four of these children. I don’t say this as a ploy for pity, but instead to point out to you that of all of the youth in the class, my two fatherless teens are the only two who are not and have not been in trouble with the law. I have been told by ALL of the instructors more than once that both of my children are not only kind and respectful, but that they are presenting good examples to children who are already on a downward spiral. We have worked really, really hard to get to this point, all of us, and to say that none of it matters because there is no father is like a slap in the face. I dare you to pull my kids aside and tell them that they are doomed because they have “lost” the most important person in their lives-you may very well have a fight on your hands
You also made the sarcastic and offensive comment that Obama is going to come in to take care of us so we don’t have to, and that is also incongruous with your statement about how fathers are the most important person in our kids’ lives. You see, Obama is going to make an attempt to step in and do the jobs of these fathers who have walked away from their children. I understand the national outrage against welfare and public assistance and “handouts,” but the problem does not lie in how many government programs there are, the problem is how necessary they are. I personally would be in no need of a single bit of assistance from the government were I to be paid the amount of child support the court has ordered for my children. If their all-important fathers were, in fact, fathers, they would all have health insurance provided by the father’s workplace instead of having to welch off the State of Idaho’s Medicaid program. If their fathers paid the amount of daycare they have been court order to pay, I would not need to have Idaho Child Care pay for a portion of it. And if I were given the actual cash payment as ordered by the state, I would be able to provide a bigger home for my children without having to accept assistance from the Idaho Housing Authority. You see. these programs are in place, rightly so, because too many people (the majority of whom are men, fathers) are not doing their job. We need Obama to come in and take care of us because people like you won’t.
So far last night, I heard a lot of things that “should” be different, but just like any other person who corners the market on perfect choices and nearly unlimited resources, you failed to provide any solutions. You spoke about the 17 year old with four kids who wants to be a nurse, and you can’t understand why she laughed at you; of course she can be a nurse, but how are you going to help her achieve that goal? Since you do not agree with or support government programs, are you going to offer to babysit this young woman’s children while she attends college, offer to pay her rent so that she doesn’t have to work full time while also going to college? No, N., you aren’t. You are going to look her right in the eye, tell her she is capable of doing anything, and then you are going to walk out of your office without telling her how she is going to do it.
I enjoy the class, and I know that we have learned and will continue to learn a lot of really great things from it. However, this is going to be in spite of you, not because of you. Please keep that in mind; my children are not going to become statistics, and that isn’t going to have anything to do with you.