President’s Corner for Early July 2016

Building Family Connections (BFC) Training

Youth commonly access sexy subject matter on TV, movies, iPads, smartphones, etc.  They also “snap chat”, “insta-gram”, twitter and listen to music.  The messages they are receiving from this flood of input are being incorporated into their brains, as a model of behavior.  Long acting reversible contraceptives are being advertised on TV and offered to younger teens and virgins without parental consent. Oral sex has been normalized such that children as young as 6th grade are beginning to have oral sex. Girls are having anal sex to maintain their virginity for marriage.

This sex culture, however, is not warning our kids about the consequences of adolescent sex, such as sexually transmitted infections.  The reality is that 1 in 4 sexually active teens will have an STI this year. Recently, I saw a young woman who had maintained her virginity until she turned 18 y/o. With her 1st sexual experience she acquired herpes. Despite the use of antiviral meds, she still has recurrent, painful outbreaks which keep her stressed and distressed physically and emotionally.

The culture is not only speaking untruths to our children about sex but to us adults, as well:   “It’s OK for kids to have sex.”  “Just get them to use a condom to protect themselves.” “Kids are going to have sex, no matter what you do or say, so you might as well start your daughter on birth control.”

How many parents know the truth? Studies show that parents have more influence over their children’s decisions about sex than any other entity.  Parents need to be encouraged and educated on how to face the important responsibility of telling the truth about sex to their children. They need to have practical tips on how to start conversations, ask open-ended questions, and overcome roadblocks to open communication.

No matter who the parent is, they find it hard to talk to their children about sex. If the parent has had a past of multiple sexual partners, it makes it doubly hard for them to talk to their youth, especially to give them good guidance – the kind of guidance that will guide them away from being involved sexually until they get married. But that past can also be the parent’s credibility having “Been there, done that, got a t-shirt.” What they tend to be lacking is the confidence of knowing that they are the very best person to ask the right questions, give the facts, and set expectations for their teens.

Medical Institute (MI) has as its stated vision “to provide science based information to empower families to build better lives for their children and teens”.  Building Family Connections (BFC) is an MI initiative that provides scientific information to trainers, who in turn educate parents about how to talk with their kids about sex.   MI offers the BFC training and certification to health professionals, educators and counselors to teach the BFC Curriculum to parents and parenting adults in their communities. Technical assistance is also provided to the trainers through phone and email as needed after they return home.

The parental involvement issue is very important to MI . We are constantly aware of the statistics relevant to pregnancy and STI’s, as well as the statistics on depression, alcohol and drug abuse for young people. We recognize these statistics represent real people with real lives, hopes and dreams.   I am President/CEO of the MI, but more relevant is that I am a passionate practitioner who sees the effect everyday of parents not having “the talk” nor the “lifelong conversation” about sex and relationships with their children and young adults.

MI continues to look for more innovative ways to disseminate the information found in our BFC training curriculum. At least two of our trained facilitators are now teaching the BFC curriculum to parents at a community college in their area. One pastor had the parents of his confirmation students attend a BFC training simultaneously.

We offer our BFC certification training event yearly in Austin, Texas. At our June training, we had 12 participants from a variety of locations, including Florida, New York, Indiana, Kansas, and California. Our next Austin training is scheduled for March 29-31, 2017.

Would you like to host a Building Family Connections certification training event in your area? If your organization would like to get several employees or volunteers certified in BFC, it may be more economical to hold the training in your home town. Email us at [email protected] or call us at (512) 328-6268 for more information.