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Archive for Monday, May 16, 2011

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Double Take: 2011-2012 student columnist selected

May 16, 2011

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Wes: The 2011 Double Take contest was the closest call in seven years. Six students submitted applications, four from Free State and one each from Bishop Seabury Academy and Veritas Christian Academy. In addition to submitting a response to the challenge question, each applicant wrote a second essay at my office on a topic not revealed until the day of the interview. Those were given the highest numerical weight (4), followed in descending order by the submission essays (3), interviews (2) and letter of recommendation (1). Three members of the Kansas City Writers Group (www.kansascitywriters.com) joined me in ranking the sets of essays.

Kolbe Murray, who willl be a Free State junior, was this year’s runner-up. His submission essay and that of third-place applicant Candice Meiners (future Free State senior) appear online at LJWorld.com. Both were very competitive, receiving at least one top ranking each, and we hope Kolbe will apply next year when he’s a senior. In this year’s tight field, it took a lot to win.

That distinction goes to Miranda Davis, who will be a Free State senior. She had two strong essays, an excellent letter and interview, and great topics to bring up this year in the column.

She’ll serve as co-author through August 2012, and receive a $1,000 scholarship from Dr-Wes.com, my new website debuting in August, and an additional $100 from Central National Bank. Miranda’s second essay will be published in the fall.

Here is the challenge question the applicants answered, followed by Miranda’s response:

Q: I’m 16, and my parents don’t know that I’m sexually active. If I tell them, they won’t let me see my boyfriend anymore, and if I don’t tell them, I can’t ask to get on birth control so I can avoid pregnancy. My boyfriend is my best friend and I love him, but if I tell, my family will hate him and think he’s pressuring me. What do I do?

A: First things first, I’m sure this has been drilled into your head but, the only way to completely prevent pregnancy and STDs is abstinence. I, however, applaud you on your decision to protect yourself. It seems as though this is a tough situation, and I would stop all intercourse until you have this settled.

Lying to parents is the No. 1 way to get them to not trust you. Being honest with your parents, even if it’s tough, will be the best outcome for the long run.

Keep in mind that you are 16, which, even if you are mature for your age, is still young. They have a right to worry if you tell them. If you are honest with them, you probably won’t be able to see your boyfriend for a while, and your relationship with your parents will be permanently altered.

While you may think you are ready for intercourse, it seems as though your parents will disagree. You need to make it clear that this has been your choice and not your boyfriend’s. Taking responsibility for your actions is a good step when you are showing your parents how mature you can be.

The No. 1 concern is your safety. Unsafe sex is one of the dumbest decisions teens can make. Remember that taking your relationship to the next level may seem great, but one mistake now can change your life forever. Keep in mind what is best for your future (college, career, etc. ) not just what is best for the relationship. You and your boyfriend may be in love and inseparable right now, but you never know what you’re going to have for breakfast tomorrow, let alone how you will feel about someone down the line.

Before you choose to continue to be sexually active I would consider this; talk to your friends who have made the same choice. Out of my friends who are sexually active there are some who feel it was the right choice and some who say it is their biggest regret. Everyone's situation is different, but this may help you gain some perspective.

In the end, it all comes down to how much you want to continue being sexually active. I would recommend telling your parents and dealing with the consequences now, and being able to work toward it in the future. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it in the long run.

RUNNER UP (2nd Place) Kolbe Murray:

I don’t want to sound harsh here, but you simply can’t keep doing what you’ve been doing. We high schoolers are extremely fertile: On average it only takes us two months of unprotected sex to get us pregnant. More likely than not, you’ll be pregnant by the time school starts this August. Pregnancy is always a risk when you’re having sex, but without protection it’s practically guaranteed. You might want to consider “outercourse” methods that won’t create a baby. If you can’t do that, at least buy some condoms from the grocery store.

After you’ve bought condoms, you’ll want to consider what kind of relationships you want with you parents. Hiding something big like this will only pull you apart.

Having the courage to bring up the conversation shows a lot of maturity on your part; which your parents should notice. Besides, parents have a way of finding these things out. Think about from your parent’s perspective, too. Do you think they would rather find out by themselves or honesty from you? Pre-emptively bringing up the conversation also gives you the opportunity to present your side with optimal light.

One way to convince your parents that your boyfriend is not pressuring you is to invite him over to talk to your parents. Let your parents “grill” him all they want; if he loves you, he’ll put up with it. It will be easier for your parents to trust your boyfriend if he is someone they can talk to.

I don’t know if your parents will help you with birth control, but I do know that you will be better off if you come clean with your parents. Sex is a tough issue to deal with alone, and it will be easier if you can talk to your parents about it. Your parents have been through a lot and have acquired a lot of wisdom too, so advice they give you will come from experience. Whatever happens with your boyfriend, your parents will be there for you.

THIRD PLACE Candice Meiners

It seems like you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. First off: Do not engage in sexual activity without birth control. Pregnancy or contraction of an STD could occur.

I can see two potential ways to approach your problem.

Option 1: Cease being sexually active. There is no rush. Whether your boyfriend pressured you or not, the fact that you feel you cannot tell your parents indicates that, to some degree, you are uncomfortable with the situation. I am going to assume your boyfriend will be fine with you changing your mind. If he is not, and perhaps threatens to break up, then this is pressuring.

Option 2: If you are sure you want to be sexually active, you will need to inform your parents. Not only because of safety issues, but also because they are your parents and they deserve to know. They work hard to take care of you; they love you and want the best for you. Right now it sounds like you fear the worst, but you never know.

It will need to be a private moment between you and them. Do not have your boyfriend there. Also write down what you want to say first, and rehearse it. This would be a bad time for something to come out wrong. Ask that they hear you out before responding.

Make sure you know where you stand. Your parents will be confused, possibly angry. They will be mentally questioning both you and themselves. If you don’t provide an answer they will fill in the blank with the worst possibility. They will be frantically wondering: Why are you sexually active? Why not wait? What is wrong with having a relationship without being sexually active? Where did we go wrong?

Tell them that you are sexually active, explain why, and ask for birth control.

Assure them that you love them, that they are great parents, and you are sure they will support you and help you to be safe.

Most importantly, be resolute and confident of your decision.

— Send your questions about adolescent issues (limited to 200 words) to doubletake@ljworld.com.

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