Last week, a priest in our diocese sent me a two-and-a-half minute video bearing a Comedy Central logo, but also released on a web link called “Alternatino”. The video depicts a father attempting to have a conversation about sex with his teenage son, who is going to his prom.
I laughed at some of the video because what the father intended to do was nowhere near where his son was at regarding sexual knowledge. Yet I was also sad to see how the father in the video was portrayed. His son was actually the one teaching his dad. The father ends up getting frustrated in the end and tells his son he no longer wishes to discuss the topic further.
Was this video an accurate reflection about how things can be between some parents and their teens regarding sex education — especially if they attend public school? If so, how common is this? Is this video making fun of “traditional Christian values?” Is the father just plain out of touch? Or should one just laugh at this as a piece of comedy, not to be taken seriously? [The video may be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1j4rrgr0KeU.] Please understand that I do not endorse this video in any way. But for me, it raises questions about how we approach the topic of sex education with our children. What the Father intends in this video is a good thing. But what if one’s child is more like the child in the video? How do we address this? It seems to me that we must first do a lot of listening and clarification before we speak. I look forward to any comments or questions you have.
The blessing of the Lord be upon you,
The unworthy +Paul
Greetings your Grace,
I thought I’d chime in. I watched the video with my 15yr old son. He said that’s a pretty typical conversation and culture at his public school. He said that he can’t really say anything without offending someone. Fortunately, we didn’t have an issue discussing sex like this dad. Our son firmly believes in two genders (as he expressed after watching this video). However, I realize some parents might not be so lucky. Our community in the church should help equip parents (or families) to have this kind of conversation about sex & sexuality in general. Not to be critical – just honest, I feel that we (my family) is sort of its own when it comes to discussing this topic. I’ve tried to look for books – how to talk to your children about sex and sexuality in the Orthodox faith and came back empty handed. It still seems to be a taboo subject. Perhaps I’m not looking in the right place??
I think it would be a step in the right direction to host a day retreat/seminar at the parish level once a year (perhaps at the beginning or the end of the summer) for parents and teens to have a discussion about the church’s teaching on sex & sexuality, as well as present the tools offered in the faith to combat temptation or the distortion of sexuality that our teens will certainly encounter one day. I will suggest this idea to my parish priest, however, it would be wonderful if someone with this particular gift (counseling, theology, & coordination) could offer a general outline/agenda with suggested material for all OCA parishes to use (at the discretion of the parish rector, of course). It would certainly be a huge relief to have help in this area.
Thank you Jen for our comment. I am glad to hear that you have a good connection with your son on this matter. I think you hit right on the head. We (us grown ups) are uncomfortable dealing with topics raised in the video.
We need to help our kids process the information they receive in the school (or as another parent told me last week, “I hear about it on the bus).” I think your suggestion about a one day seminar on the this subject is an excellent one. Let’s see what materializes in the next year. The Lord’s blessing be upon you. +Paul