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What Are Some Things Teens Can Learn From Delaying Sex Until Marriage?

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Many parents encourage their teens to delay sex until marriage. If you want your teen to listen and follow your advice, you must point out benefits that he understands and desires. Your teen may argue that condoms and birth control prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease -- be prepared for that kind of possible push-back. Today's teens are savvy, but can learn a good many things from delaying sex until marriage.

Self-Control

Your teen can learn to take control over his body and mind, combating the effects of a culture that uses sex to sell almost anything. The message many teens hear is that everyone is having sex and you can do it with very few consequences, as long as you practice safe sex. If your teen is strongly committed to chastity and exercises self-control necessary to maintain that commitment, your teen is then free to learn how to build a relationship based on elements other than sex, such as shared interests, meeting a mate’s needs and desires. Your teen also demonstrates respect for the limits he sets, for those of his girlfriend and those you hold.

Commitment

A study published in the December 2010 edition of the “Journal of Family Psychology” reports that individuals who delay sex until marriage have more stable relationships, happier relationships, better sexual relationships and communications skills than those who have sex before marriage. Your teen can watch her friends pass through sexual relationships without commitment and learn that having sex does not improve the chances that a relationship will survive. Her relationship might not last longer than her friends, but the end of the relationship could end with less angst than a relationship complicated by sexual involvement and emotional dependence, suggests Professor Mark Lowery, an associate professor of theology at the University of Dallas and the author of “Living the Good Life: What Every Catholic Needs to Know About Moral Issues.”

The Place of Sex

Your teen could learn to see sex in a proper perspective, suggests Lauren Winner at Focus on the Family. She indicates that married sex doesn’t have the same attraction and thrill that premarital sex does as a forbidden behavior. Sex in marriage is seen as a normal activity that enhances the relationship, but does not consume it. Married sex invites spouse to share intimacy and tenderness. Additionally, married partners worry less about abandonment and are therefore more securely attached, says clinical and health psychologist Dr. Melanie Greenberg in her article “Love, Sex, Relationships and the Brain” in “Psychology Today.”

Finding a Mate

Remaining chaste until marriage can teach your child what he wants in a mate, according to Dawn Eden, author of “The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On” and director of the Cardinal Newman Society's Love and Responsibility Program. Without the romanticized version of the relationship your teen can create through the haze of sexual involvement, he can see the relationship more realistically and determine whether his date shares his values, interests and his vision for what he needs in a relationship. He can look at how he relates to another person, what he has to offer a potential partner and how he can create a healthy marital relationship.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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