It’s not uncommon for authors who have written pro-life fiction for teens—even squeaky clean pro-life fiction—to occasionally get a review that says something along the lines of, “I thought the plot would have been perfect for teens except that there was an element relating to sex in it so it’s only appropriate for over-eighteens.”
Oh boy. Obviously, it’s up to parents what they teach their children and when. But I suspect I am not alone in finding the idea of attempting to raise a child to age eighteen in the modern world, without letting them hear anything about sex, concerning.
“Why?” you might ask. “Don’t we want to preserve children’s purity as long as possible?”
Of course we do. Which is precisely why it isn’t possible to raise a child to eighteen without giving appropriate formation in this area of their life. Not unless you live on a private island with no internet connection, no books, no movies—not even a Bible. (Spoiler: There is actually quite a lot of sex in the Bible.)
My point is, however hard you try, teens in our modern world will have absorbed a great deal of information about sex by the time they are eighteen. But, unless it comes from you, it probably won’t contain a lot of what you want it to contain or instill the attitudes that will help them to heaven. A proper understanding of God’s purpose for sex as a beautiful life-giving gift within marriage is vital for a chaste life—and for a solid pro-life ethic.
If sex isn’t good and beautiful, why save it for marriage?
If life isn’t precious, why fight to defend it?
These are two facts that children need to be gradually learning, in age-appropriate steps, their entire lives, so that by the time they are teens they already have a firm grounding in the preciousness of life and the sacredness of how it is engendered.
Trying to suddenly instill such beliefs in teens—let alone eighteen-year-olds—after they have already soaked up the attitudes of the world for years is like trying to glue a patch onto a burst dam—it’s simply too late. The weight of water will blow that patch straight off and destroy the entire dam. God may be able to rebuild it, from the bottom up. But that’s what it will take to fix the—pardon the pun—damage.
Of course, it’s increasingly hard to find mainstream books and movies that present sexuality and life issues in helpful ways. Even the most benign tend to be neutral, at very best, and many are highly corrosive. But entertainment is one of the most powerful ways every single one of us, not just children and teens, are formed, day by day—which is why it’s well worth parents making the effort to find choices that form instead of destroy.
Catholic Teen Books has a number of titles that are particularly good for forming teens in pro-life issues (and all books on the site are in accord with Theology of the Body).
BREACH! – This clean, page-turning, heart-warming adventure is set in a future where dinosaurs roam the earth. A couple of months after a much-regretted drunken night, eighteen-year-old hunter Isaiah learns he’s a father—but the mother is determined to have an abortion. Can he save his child?
Child, Unwanted (Margaret of Castello) – Thirteen-year-old Miri (Miracle) Taylor is an abortion survivor and has felt unwanted his whole life. Recovering in hospital after a terrible accident, he ‘meets’ the great pro-life saint, Saint Margaret of Castello. Can ‘Little Margaret’ teach him that his life has meaning?
Rightfully Ours by Carolyn Astfalk
Grief, loneliness, and unavoidable circumstances draw two teens together. Their friendship deepens to love as they hunt for lost treasure, placing them in the path of temptation and forcing them to affirm their beliefs about love and sexual relationships.
Life-Changing Love - this clean contemporary fiction follows best friends. Caitlyn must practice something like old-fashioned courtship, while her best friend has no rules at all. A novel about dating, courtship, family, and faith that follows three teens on their journey to know themselves, their goals, and how to accomplish them.
For Eden's Sake by T.M. Gaouette
Barely out of college, Isaac trades the quiet of his family ranch for the excitement of the big city with his dream job at an up-and-coming advertising agency. Until his perfect new world is shattered by bad choices, a pretty girl, a moment's temptation—and a late night walk that quickly spirals out of control.
Anyone but Him by Theresa Linden
Caitlyn wakes with amnesia, unable to remember the past three years or why she moved so far from home, and worse--why she's married to a boy she despised in high school. In this emotionally-charged, new adult mystery romance Caitlyn struggles to solve the mysteries of her amnesia and her marriage.