A Plan for Fathers

 

Chris Godfrey is founder and president of Life Athletes, which offers teens and parents guidance on self-respect, sexuality and the sanctity of life. An All-Pro offensive lineman, he helped the New York Giants to the Super Bowl championship in 1987.

Fathers for Good asked him four questions to outline a plan for parents regarding their children’s sexuality.

Fathers for Good: At what age should parents start talking to their kids about sexuality?

Godfrey: Puberty will present parents with a great opportunity to talk to their children about the changes their bodies are going through, as well as God’s purposes for them. This is the time when thoughts and questions begin to arise naturally in a child's mind. I don’t like to put ideas into their heads before they are ready to handle them. We recently created a great tool to assist parents in this task. “Know Yourself” is a 38-minute DVD that helps parents talk about these things in a comprehensive and non-embarrassing manner.

FFG: What do you think is the #1 thing a dad can do to protect his kids from premarital sex?

Godfrey: Good question. Removing them physically from the danger always works! But using our physical superiority is only a short-term solution. We need to have a long-term plan too. Obviously, helping them to build a strong character and form a correct conscience is a better option, because it protects them when we are not around to help.

But I think the #1 thing we can do is to tell our children how we feel about them becoming sexually active. Studies show that parents’ opinion in this regard is the biggest influence on their child’s decision.

Strengthen their relationship with Jesus is also helpful. Having a strong identity as a son or daughter of God, and being a member of his Church, will increase the likelihood of them following his moral teachings. However, be careful not to overdo it. They are kids, not seminarians or religious. Remember to lead by example, follow our Lord and his Church yourself, and then take your family with you.

FFG: What's the best way to teach about STDs – do you scare them with photos of infections?

Godfrey: I have never used pictures myself. I suppose I would if I was dealing with a really cynical person who refused to acknowledge the danger. (This is also how I handle people who don’t think abortion is such a big deal.)

I do tell kids that STDs are a huge public health issue, one which has prompted the CDC to refer to it as an “epidemic.” Statistics and probabilities are also a part of my case.

Nevertheless the threats of danger are often not enough. So I try to convey the disgusting nature of the diseases themselves through a modest little demonstration that allows the imagination to make the connection without using pictures of diseased genitalia. This demonstration can be found in our curriculum “Build Yourself.”

FFG: What if a dad was sexually active before marriage – can he be a good teacher in this area? Won't his kids say he’s a phony?

Godfrey: First of all, our kids do not need to know about our past. The most important thing is that our kids see that we are struggling to do the right thing now.

Similarly, our past behavior has no bearing on the rightness or wrongness of our message today. The truth is the truth. Every new generation has the right to hear it, and every older generation has the duty to teach it – whether they lived it or not. Kids simply want to know how things really are. And like us, they will make up their own minds about following it.

We do this because we love them and want them to be happy.

To order Life Athletes resources, visit www.lifeathletes.org.