Dear Grandparenting: You’ll never guess what my granddaughter did. She took a “virginity pledge” to remain that way until marriage. Far as anyone can tell, she just woke up one morning and announced it on Facebook and Twitter.
My granddaughter is 14. She changes her mind like she changes her clothes. I’m betting this too shall pass but it got me thinking. Does a virginity pledge actually make any difference in how people behave? I am hearing that boys take the pledge too.
I do know a thing or two about human nature. The best of intentions can crumble in the heat of passion. As Oscar Wilde is famous for saying, “I can resist anything but temptation.” Carol Broadmoor, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
Dear Carol: The power of passion is a force to be reckoned with, and so is the fact that your granddaughter went public with her intention.
“Public commitments tend to be lasting commitments,” said Dr. Robert Cialdini, an authority on social influence and the psychology of persuasion. One’s self-image is squeezed by pressure to comply, both internally and externally.
As many as one in eight American teens may take a virginity pledge, some at “purity balls” where young women in formal ball gowns take their vows. But according to data from federal and non-profit studies, less than 5 percent of Americans remain virgins until marriage.
“Taking the pledge doesn’t seem to make any difference at all in sexual behavior,” said Janet Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, “but it does seem to make a difference (in the use of birth control) that is quite striking.” Since females who take the pledge are unprepared for sex, they are more susceptible to pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted disease.
Grand remark of the week
Jo Clark from Sidney, Ohio weighed in to say she is dealing with the ravages of old age.
“My once lovely hair has turned gray and there’s less of it. My face is nothing but wrinkles. My joints ache and my muscles cramp up. My eyesight is declining. In return, I have five grandchildren. I have many days when I think I got the better of the deal.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.