Parents and Anxiety: Where Does It Come From?

hen parents discuss the concept of sexuality ed­ucation for their children, many report feeling very anxious and insecure about their own abili­ties. Pamela Wilson suggests that anxiety comes from many places, including:

• Fear: Many parents worry that something bad will hap­pen to their children if they start talking to them about sex. They might be impregnated or impregnate their part­ner; be raped or rape someone; or even become infected with an STI such as AIDS. Parents also worry that they will wait too long, start too early, say the wrong thing, or give misinformation. The biggest fear is that providing sexual­ity education will take away a child’s innocence.

• Lack of comfort: Because most parents did not talk to their parents about sex, many feel uncomfortable in pre-

senting it themselves. Those who did talk about it usually talked with their mothers. This causes many fathers to feel especially uncomfortable facing the prospect of ed­ucating their sons and daughters.

• Lack of skills: Parents often do not know how to say what they want to say. Some resort to a lecture about the "birds and bees," whereas others simply ask their children, "Do you have any questions?"

• Misinformation: Many parents do not have the necessary facts about sexuality education. Having received little sexuality education themselves, many believe in the myths about sexuality.

Source: Adapted from Wilson (1994, pp. 1-2).

tions and may be pressured by their peers to engage in sexual activity when they do not feel ready. Giving teenagers information about sex can help them to deal with these changes. The majority of parents, teachers, and students want sexuality education to be taught in secondary schools and high schools (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, 2005a). Many students, however, believe that school – based sex education programs are usually “too late” for them because they have already learned information from other sources or have become sexually active by the time the programs start (Buston & Wight, 2002).