November 29, 2005
Raising Modern Individuals in the US and the Netherlands
This article was an analysis of teenage-sexual habits at the beginning, but definitely turned into something bigger. I was not expecting this to be a dissection between the ovearching societal differences of the United States and the Netherlands. It took a turn I did not expect! The author says that American teenagers are more likely to have more sexual partners, have shorter relationships, and are 6 times more likely to get pregnant than the Dutch. This is a surprising, and a rather disheartening, find. It is also found that American parents are more strict with sex and see it as dangerous, conflicted, and polarized. Dutch parents perceive sex as non-problematic, non-emotionally disruptive. Americans view of sex, the author said, is due to the role of religion, which plays a bigger role in the US. This fact, while it could very well be plausible, saddens me. Being a Christian and believing that sex is for marriage, and marriage only, I find it rather ironic that the Dutch society, where sex is not villianized, it is treated with less regard and not as big of a deal. While I cannot turn this into a debate of how sex is not an evil, horrible thing and it is actually a beautiful, holy act, it is true that most Christians can portray sex as horrible and evil- which is not the case at all. However, this not being the point of the article- I will not dwell. I just wanted to clear up some misconceptions of the Christian view of sex- that it is a sacred, wonderful action, but it is meant for marriage.
I found it interesting that the author said that because of the two different world-views, our attitudes for sex and success are different. An adult in the Dutch society is not necessarily monetary based- it is about being able to regulate oneself and is based on compromise and trust. In our American society, it is about financial self-sufficiency, that once a person is off of the parent's income- they are an adult. I see this notion being played out constantly- for 'boys' continue to live in their parent's basement, and if one of my friends were to date somebody living at home- he would be referred to as a loser. I understand where both sides are coming from, and I see it both ways. Being raised American, it is no wonder that I accepted freely the notion that adulthood= money. BUT, when looking at the lack of true men and women who are able to live on their own, I question America's model- does money truly make a person? In our capitalistic society, there is no doubt that we would use money as a mark of success, but being Christian and a Christian society, we should use different judges of adulthood and character.
I understand how strict parenting can cause children to rebel. My parents were two of the most laid-back people in the world, and I never had a desire to do anything 'naughty' because my parents were very trusting and open. Granted, my extracurriculars were debate and interp, as I was quite a nerd, and had no desire to be in the party scene because of my faith. On the contrary, my friend's parents who were incrediballly strict, went wild in college because she was not used to the freedom and was so sick of being under her parent's rule. This article brings up some interesting questions and makes me question American parenting versus the sexual actions of teenagers.