When it comes to sex and dating for our children, it's difficult to be rational and level-headed. Two pieces of news came to my attention recently and frankly, I was shocked. They came from the opposite poles of the cultural-political spectrum.
One concerns a certain headmaster at a Tuen Mun secondary school where dating has been banned. The other has to do with sex education at my children's international school.
According to Chung Fat-shing, the principal of Po On Commercial Association Wong Siu Ching Secondary School, "you may regret all your life" if you fall in love at the wrong time.
Technically I agree, but the wrong time does not necessarily mean the teen years. You can indeed fall in love, or at least get into a wrong relationship, at any time. So what Master Chung wrote is a bit of a non sequitur.
To prove his case, he wrote in a school publication that an old classmate of his fell in love in Form Seven, didn't get into university and made his girlfriend pregnant. Were all these causally related? It's not clear if they married, but Chung said they ended up with a broken family. I presume Chung is married and went to university. Perhaps he could have cited his own success as an example of when one should start dating.
On the other extreme, I was recently informed by sex education materials offered at my kids' school that as parents, my wife and I should praise masturbation and encourage it. The way a booklet puts it, we should "celebrate" - their word, not mine - when boys have their first masturbation experiences. Perhaps my wife and I should have bought champagne for the occasion, on the odd chance that our kid might inform us of the celebratory event.
Frankly, the liberal in me was shocked by the first news. The conservative in me was disconcerted by the second. I think it's cute for teenagers to date, hold hands and even kiss a bit. Going all the way - to me at any rate - is not advisable. But children will do what they do unless you monitor them all the time.
As for sex education, parents should obviously tell boys they won't go blind. But "celebrating" the act seems a bit excessive. Parental guidance is advised. Just knock and wait before you enter their rooms.