Are Parents Avoiding The Sex Talk – Or Gardasil?

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Four years ago when Gardasil was introduced, it was the wonder-vaccine that could prevent STDs and cervical cancer. I remember watching those first “One Less” commercials and being amazed at the abilities of modern medicine. I assumed that women everywhere would feel a little more safe knowing that some forms of cervical cancer and HPV could be kept at bay. I mean really, where was the downside here?

Flash forward a couple years and the Republican Presidential primary has turned Gardasil into a controversial topic. Now who could have predicted this? All of a sudden, the idea of vaccinating our young girls against a possibly deadly disease has detractors. Some are arguing that helping young women protect themselves against disease will encourage promiscuity and irresponsible sexual behavior. Well you know what? If you thought the possibility of HPV was the only thing holding your children back from sex, I can see why this vaccine is a little scary. But if you’re actually discussing sex with your kids, nothing about this should be controversial.

I know that it can’t be easy for parents to sit down and discuss a very intimate and private part of life with their kids. I live in an extremely conservative state and here, calling pre-marital sex sinful and refusing any further discussion is pretty much the norm. But I was lucky enough to have parents that trusted me to respect my body and use my head when it came to my sex life. They didn’t demonize a healthy sexual appetite, but they reinforced the fact that I needed to know my own mind and make my own decisions without being pressured or guilted into sex. They talked about the importance of sex safe and why I needed to take charge of my own protection. They gave me the information I needed to make healthy decision that were right for me.

But not every teen is so lucky. And it seems like some parents will do anything to avoid the type of conversation that my parents had with me almost a decade ago. Why is Gardasil so scary? Because it forces parents to communicate with their kids about sex, it’s risks and it’s purpose. Any type of sex education is difficult because as parents, we pray and hope that our little ones will wait until the time is right. We want them to be safe and happy and innocent as long as humanly possible.

The problem is that sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much we want something. When it comes to teenagers, they have their own minds and they make their own choices. All we can do as parents is prepare them to the best of our abilities. That preparation should come in two parts. Physically, we should be giving them every advantage in the fight of diseases like HPV. And emotionally, we need to discussing sex so that our kids will come to us if there is a problem. We need to there to support them if things don’t work out just like they planned. And we need to be open to hearing what they need to tell us.

Vaccines against sexually transmitted diseases don’t put our children at risk, but refusing to acknowledge that teenagers have sex can have dire consequences.