Question: Our local school board is currently trying to decide whether boys and girls should be segregated for courses on sexuality and "family life." What are your feelings with regard to co-ed sex-education programs?
Dr. Dobson: I have severe reservations about highly explicit discussions occurring when both sexes are present. To do so breaks down the natural barriers that help to preserve virginity, and makes casual sexual experimentation much more likely to occur. It also strips kids - especially girls - of their modesty to have every detail of anatomy, physiology, intercourse and condom usage made explicit in co-ed situations. Those who have thereby become familiar and conversant about the most intimate subjects may later find themselves watching explicit sexual scenes in movies, rock videos and television programs.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to recognize the combined impact of these influences. Whereas it was a weighty decision to give up one's virginity in decades past, it is but a small step for those whose conditioning began in the school classroom. Familiarity "breeds," as we all know. I am also convinced that the incidence of date-rape rises when the barriers that help a girl protect herself are removed.
In some cases, no doubt, school officials have pushed for mixed sex-ed classes out of a sense of obligation. Somehow they feel this is what's expected of them - that parents and the community at large want it. Let them know if you disagree! Tell your school board members about the educational advantages of separated classes. They may see your point if you present it to them from that angle.
Question: I am 19 years old and have struggled with a bad self-concept all my life. It seems that everyone I know has more to offer than I do. I envy the girls who are better looking than I am, more athletic or smarter. I just don't measure up to my own expectations. How can I deal with my own insecurities?
Dr. Dobson: Someone once said, "Comparison is the root of all inferiority." It is true. When you look at another person's strengths and compare them to your own weaknesses, there is no way to come out feeling good about yourself. That is what you are doing when you pit yourself against the "best and brightest" around you.
This destructive game begins in elementary school when we begin to evaluate ourselves critically. Even at that young age, our self-image is shaped by how we stack up against our peers. It's not how tall we are that matters; it's who is tallest. It's not how fast we can run; it's who runs fastest. It's not how smart we are; it's who is smartest. It's not how pretty or handsome we are; it's who is most gorgeous.
Thus begins a pattern of self-doubt that often becomes all-consuming during adolescence. For some people it continues well into adult life. This is why millions of women buy fashion magazines and envy the beauty of the models. It's why we watch Miss America contests, and why some men read about successful and powerful businessmen. When we do that, we're weighing ourselves against the most admired assets of others. It is an exercise that brings us nothing but pain, and yet we continue to engage in it.
It appears that you are caught up in this destructive pattern. Perhaps a wise counselor or pastor can help you see that you are a worthy human being exactly the way you are and that you have been designed for a specific purpose. Mental and spiritual health begins with an acceptance of life as it is and a willingness to make the most of what has been given. When that is achieved, comparison with others is no longer an important issue.