With every privilege should come increased responsibility.
For example, my 6-year-old daughter has increased freedom at every birthday. She is able to stay up later or walk alone to our neighbor’s house. But her responsibilities also increase at every birthday. Last year she started getting ready for bed without our prompting or help. Maybe this year she’ll start putting her own clothes away or rinsing her dishes.
Teenagers too often have an imbalance of privilege and responsibility. What I mean by this is that parents are too often willing to provide their teenager with a cell phone or a car (a privilege) without requiring the teenager showing an equivalent increase in responsibility (like paying for a portion of the on-going costs or running household errands).
Sexuality is too often talked about with teenagers in terms that have everything to do with privilege and very little to do with responsibility. In sex education classes, either at home or in schools, adults are far too likely to assume responsibility for teenagers’ sexuality decisions without putting the onus of safe sexuality squarely where it belongs: on the shoulders of the individuals availing themselves of the privilege of engaging in sex.
Next week I’ll write about what it looks like in concrete terms to ask teenagers to fully step up to the responsibility of safe sex if they are choosing to engage in the privileged activity of sex.