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September 4, 2009

Well Played, Family Circle

I was visiting my grandma today, and I ended up flipping through some of her magazines, including Family Circle. I've always thought that the best part of Family Circle is the Letters to the Editor section in the front, because invariably someone has written in to share a picture of the cake that they made shaped like a flag/dinosaur/pumpkin/bunny/aardvark/whatever based on a recipe from the previous issue that just impressed everyone at their barbecue/kid's birthday/PTA lunch/tea party/AA meeting/whatever so very much! It's all downhill from there.

But I did manage to find one other interesting thing in the September issue. In the Kids' Health section, written by Jane Bianchi, there's a question about virginity pledges mixed in with the tips about buying organic milk and preventing lice outbreaks.

Q: Should I encourage my daughter to take a virginity pledge?
I braced myself for a conservative, abstinence-only-ish answer, but I was pleasantly surprised.

A: Probably not. Teens who promise to be abstinent are just as likely to have intercourse as teens who don't make the oath - and they're less likely to use condoms when they do have sex, says a Johns Hopkins University study. Instead of having her take the pledge, sit down and talk to her about how you expect her to behave sexually.
Wow, an answer that tells the truth about virginity pledges without sugarcoating - that they don't work and can actually do more harm than good by resulting in more teens having unsafe sex - and also encourages actual communication rather than preaching or overreacting. And if you want to interpret it generously, saying 'talk about how you expect her to behave' even allows for a variety of different families, different circumstances, and different value systems. Nice job, Family Circle!

Maybe I'll decorate a cake to look like a condom wrapper and send them a picture as a thank you for giving such sensible advice. I'm sure they'll appreciate it.

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