Dear Grandparenting: You’ll never guess what my granddaughter did! Lo and behold, she has taken a “virginity pledge” to remain that way until marriage. As far as anyone can tell, she just woke up one morning and announced it on Facebook and Twitter.
She is 15 and changes her mind like she changes clothes. I’m betting this too shall pass. But she got me to thinking. Does a virginity pledge actually make any difference in how people behave? Men take the pledge too.
I do know a thing or two about human nature and how the best of intentions can crumble in the heat of passion. As Oscar Wilde is famous for saying, “I can resist anything but temptation.” Floyd Boone, Dayton, Ohio
Dear Floyd: The power of passion is a force to be reckoned with, but so is the fact that your granddaughter went public with her intention to remain chaste until marriage.
“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 nonprofit studies, fewer than 5 percent of Americans remain virgins until marriage.
“Taking the pledge doesn’t seem to make any difference at all in sexual behavior after five years,” 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 sexually transmitted disease.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Debbie Clay, of Lady Lake, Florida, says grandson Julian “has his little heart set on becoming a doctor,” so she occasionally pretends to be the sick patient when they get together.
During his last visit, after Julian finished curing her measles and fixing her broken arm, Debbie said her heart was about to “stop ticking.”
“No problem Gran,” said Julian. “I’ll just wiggle you around until it starts back up again. Don’t worry, I know this one.”
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.