Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Blue Family in a Blue State With Blue Values

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There was a very interesting article in the New Yorker by Margaret Talbot, on 11/03/08 about the number of evangelicals getting pregnant. The title was Red Sex, Blue Sex, which I thought was quite catchy, and since I am still cranky about the election, this was fun! Enjoy the day!

Sarah Palin's family is a red family. They have a 17-year-old daughter who likely says she believes in abstinence until marriage and is pregnant and plans to get married before the baby arrives versus "sneaking off to have an abortion," and is likely to report not being very close to her parents. Like other red families, they are a socially conservative Christian family, advocate abstinence-only education, denounce sex before marriage, are likely to believe that liberals are hedonistic and selfish, have heard that condoms do not work and contraception makes you look "easy," and likely do not believe in gay marriage. They may or may not know that the states with the highest divorce rates, highest teen pregnancy rates, and the earliest age of marriage, are all red states.

I on the other hand, am raising a blue family. I have a nearly 17-year-old who believes that most people will have sex before marrying, which she expects to happen when she is about 28 and was recently excited by her first kiss (please do not tell her you know), and believes she has a close relationship with her mom. Like other blue families, I am socially liberal, am tired of hearing that conservatives are the protectors of "family values," support sex education and acknowledge that the average age of first sex in the United States is 16, expect any sexual act to be consensual as well as protected by condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infection and a reliable birth control method, and I believe everyone has the right to marriage. I also have instilled in my children an expectation that they will go to college and be financially stable before they get married and begin to raise children.

The children from both families live in a world that includes access to Internet porn, celebrity sex scandals, reality TV and the sexualization of everything in advertising. We know from research that what matters actually crosses the red and blue divide - teens who delay having sex the longest are those who have had comprehensive sexuality education (which includes information about birth control), and report that parents understand them, pay attention to them and their "issues," and have fun with them.

It is not about being red or blue - it is about healthy relationships and parenting with our eyes open - come on people - our children's futures are at stake!
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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