In our workshops, we spend quite a bit of time talking about values. Values are deeply held personal beliefs that govern how people behave. Someone’s values determine how they respond to certain situations, what causes they support, and how they interact with other people. In our national conversation, the idea of values is often centered around “traditional values” or is raised when talking about abortion and marriage. While these topics are closely related to values, there are many more applications in our everyday lives.
When we are talking about values in the context of parent education, we are talking about the beliefs an individual or a family has around how their child should respond to or interact with any given situation. For example, many families have values around their children’s use of cell phones or screen time. There is no one right answer: each family has its own values. Perhaps there is unlimited access to phones throughout the day; perhaps a child needs to earn their phone time; perhaps the phone is available only under certain circumstances or at certain times of the day.
When we are talking about parents as the primary sexuality educators of their children, we lean heavily on values. Only parents themselves can teach their family’s values to their child. Although a child can learn what types of phones there are, how they work, and where to get them from friends or the internet, only parents can provide guidance and context around their expectations. The same is true when it comes to sex and sexuality.
When answering questions about bodies, relationships, or sex, people sometimes get confused about the difference between facts and values. A fact is a piece of information about a topic that is true and not debated. A value, on the other hand, is what someone believes about that topic and how it fits into their life. Another way of putting it: the value is the "why" behind the "what?" Sometimes a value may be useful when filling in the “feeling” section of the script, and only you can share this personal and important information with your child.
For example, if a child asks, “How old should someone be to have sex for the first time?”, a fact could be, “People have sex for the first time at different ages.” You don’t need to have the actual data, but this is a fact about the topic. A value, on the other hand, is what you believe about the topic: “I think that, before having sex for the first time, a person should __________.” Even here at the Buzz, we cannot tell you what that blank is – that is for you to fill in with your own values! Some examples might include mentioning something about a certain age, marital or relationship status, or even health considerations. This is the part that is up to you as your child’s primary sexuality educator.
You can use our script
to answer questions from different ages and about different topics, and see what the script generates for both facts and values. Remember, you can change all parts of the script so that it feels true and accurate for you and your family! Sign up here to receive our Parent Buzz newsletters in your email.