Parents &
Teen Sex

Mental Illness
in the Family

Too Soon
for Sex?

Teen Brain

Parenting "Difficult" Adolescents

Annual Survey
from National
Campaign to
Teen Pregnancy

Being a
Reconciling Family

Study Shows
America's Sexual Behavior to
be Highly Lethal

"The Warrior,
the Lover
and the Monk"

3 B's of
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Groomed for

Sisters of Charity Report


Sisters of Charity Report


Family Honor programs are designed to help parents become more proficient, more confident and more effective as the sexuality educators of their children.  An important premise of the programs is  that sexuality is more than just reproductive capacity.  In fact, for the young people participating in the Family Honor program, learning about and valuing their fertility is regarded as positive and integral to who they will become as men and women.  The intended net effect would be the internalizing of this viewpoint and a subsequent reduction of the inappropriate use of their sexual powers.  All of this is viewed as a significant long term undertaking.  By long term, the program envisions years of influence rather than a few weeks that adolescents might receive in a Health class at school.  This long term influence can best be delivered by parents -- not only because they are a constant source of influence over that long time span, but because they are the most credible and compelling source of influence under the proper circumstances.

This approach is consistent with the latest research which identifies parent-child connectedness as a key deterrent to adolescent sexual involvement, followed by supervision and monitoring, and being connected in a meaningful way at school. (See the Add Health Study, September, 1997)    A recent review of the literature regarding parental impact was published by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. (Miller, 1998)  Here again the salient factors that stood out over and above other sources of influence were the parent factors. 

Given this large body of compelling evidence that argues so clearly in favor of parental involvement, parent training and education, and the promoting of parental responsibility, there is a striking deficiency of effort to engage and empower parents to more effectively fulfull their role as the sexuality educators of their children.   Many parents have been led to believe that this responsibility is one that could better be fulfilled by schools or other agencies, in spite of evidence to the contrary.  The Family Honor program is a rare exception to the prevailing currents, and offers parents a place, a method, and practical tools designed to equip and empower them to fulfill this particular role.

Program Description

Family Honor programs are offered to various groups in S.C. and primarily draw their clientele from the faith community.   Parents . . .  usually select one of two basic offerings:   Real Love & Real Life , for parents with their 7th or 8th grader or Changes & Challenges, for parents with their 6th grader.  (Note:  two additional Family Honor programs are available, but were not included in this research study.)

Real Love & Real Life consists of four two-hour evening sessions held once a week for four weeks [with parents and their 7th or 8th grade child].  Using a variety of presentation methods, this course includes:  effective family communication; the enhancement of self-worth; an appreciation of the uniqueness and potential of each person; goal setting; challenges of adolescent growth and development; love as the foundation to quality relationships; making and keeping commitments to chastity; human reproductive anatomy and physiology and the capacity to create life; and more.

Changes & Challenges is shorter, geared to the younger age group (6th grade) and presented in two, two hour sessions, one week apart.  The first session, which involves parents without their children, covers adolescent personality development, family interaction and effective strategies for staying connected with their child and the value and methods of promoting chastity.  The second session, which includes the sons and daughters with their parents, covers changes in an adolescent's body in preparation for parenthood, the onset of ovulation and subsequent menstrual periods, the sacredness of human life and the value of chastity.

The Process of Empowering Parents

In addition to the content of the program as summarized above, there is also an underlying set of factors that have been posited as important precursors to parental influence. 1   For example, communication with and education of their children may well depend on whether or how much parents:   

  • feel responsible

  • feel confident and competent

  • feel comfortable enough with the topic to discuss it with their children

  • feel that they have adequate resources and opportunities

  • believe that what they do regarding their children will make a difference (also referred to as personal efficacy)

  • are clear about and committed to the values that they want to transmit to their children.

With the program philosophy and description presented herein and the underlying factors that help or hinder the engagement of parents with their children as listed above, several key areas of focus for this evaluation were identified.

Evaluation Goals

The evaluation focused on whether Family Honor program participation fosters the following intermediate outcomes for parents :

  • a greater level of knowledge and understanding of the key concepts, and increased confidence and competence in teaching those concepts;

  • greater value to and commitment to those key concepts as a result of program participation;

  • a higher level of efficacy as educators of their children;

  • increased quality of the relationship between parents and children -- a prerequisite for value transmission;

  • increased communication between parents and children and a reduction of the potential barriers to that communication process via the tools and opportunities afforded by the program.

Ultimately, we of course need to learn about the impact of the program on sexual behavior of adolescents.  The first step, however, is to determine whether the instrumental process of parental involvement and communication produces the desired intermediate results as listed above.

Summary and Discussion

The overall pattern of results supports the conclusion that the Family Honor program is making a significant difference with parents with respect to the kind and level of communication they engage in with their children.  The data also support the conclusion that the program has a significant impact on those important precursors to communication - particularly the opportunity measure - but also on the the measures of personal efficacy and comfort level.  Furthermore, we see a significant program effect for the measures of responsibility, confidence and whether they (parents) feel overwhelmed with the task at hand.  In general, these effects are stronger for the long program group [Real Love & Real Life] as compared to the short program group [Changes & Challenges] , as you would expect.

... of the thirteen different measures of short term program impact on parents, eleven showed significant pre - post change.  It is clear that their experience as program participants moves parents in the direction intended by the program, even though this is a select group of strong parents to begin with.  An intervention with a short time span such as this does not usually produce results of this magnitude or consistency.

Program Recommendations

Overall, the program goals are being met as expected.  Parents are influenced in a significant way on most of the key measures.

. . .  the parents' perception of the child's values showed small but significant changes.  This variable suggests that a parent is more or less likely to express or communicate their own values when they think the child is going to agree with them!  What parents need to learn is that when their own value system is well-grounded, and when the relationship between them and their child is strong ("connected") it does not matter so much what the child's current posture is because the parent can in fact have a strong and direct influence on what the child's values are.   This is related to the personal efficacy factor.  If a parent has low confidence in their ability to be an influence, and if they believe that their child's values are not consistent with the message they would like to communicate, it is probably safe to assume that the parent won't engage in very much communication or expression of their own value system.  Both of these perceptions can be changed within the context of this program.

Finally, it is important to convey to parents that the "connection" factor and its role as a facilitator of value transmission is a more important dynamic than is the transmission of information.  Whatever is said to their children about biology, physiology, and reproduction should always be accompanied by and placed firmly in the context of what is right, good, important and valuable. 

Research Recommendations

Two basic recommendations about evaluation of this program seem timely.  Given the success of this effort with the population of parents involved in this study, a logical next step would be to extend this program to groups where the population characteristics are different, the risk factors may be higher, and potential for influence may be greater.  Evaluating this program in a few different contexts would answer the question about how applicable these findings are to other groups of a different make-up.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, would be the evaluation of program effects on the adolescents themselves -- the impact of their attitutudes, values, parent relationship and connection, and then on sexual behavior in the longer term.  Transition into sexual activity occurs at a rate of about 13 - 15% each year, even for a population such as this.  Reducing that transition rate by 50% each year would yield significant results with respect to the negative consequences of premarital sexual activity . . .  This phase of evaluation would answer the more final question regarding program impact on adolescent behavior.

{Note:  In body of report, emphasis added by Family Honor where words are in bold, italic, or underlined.}


Bandura, A. (1986)  Social Foundations of Thought and Action:  A social cognitive theory.   Englewood Cliffs, NJH:  Prentice Hall.

Bandura, A .  (1993)  Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and functioning.   Educational Psychologist, 28, 117-148.

Miller, B. (1998)  Parents Matter, report commissioned by National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

Resnick, et al.   (1997).  Protecting adolescents from harm:  Findings from the national longitudinal study on adolescent health.   JAMA, 278 (10), 823-832.

Weed, S . (1994)  FACTS Project:  Year End Evaluation Report, 1993-1994.   Submitted to the Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Programs, Department of Health and Human Services, 24 pp.

A complete copy of Dr. Weed's final report to the foundation is available from the Family Honor office for $10.00, which includes shipping and handling charges.


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