Lizzie Marvelly did well to have the courage to speak as she did in the Weekend Herald. I agree with what she is saying. As a mother of two and now a grandmother of two, I have always had a good relationship with my kids by simply leaving the communication lines open - talk without recrimination, guidance without judgment, notwithstanding it has been hard on some occasions.
It has meant that issues have been discussed, and solutions that are acceptable to everyone found without secrecy and lies.
Lizzie wrote, "Until our Government musters the courage to implement compulsory comprehensive sexuality education ... parents need to step in."
The standard sex education in schools seems to miss the crux of the matter - good relationships.
I belong to a worldwide not-for-profit organisation that, here in New Zealand, sponsors an excellent programme with just that focus. The Sophie Elliott Foundation has been instrumental in writing the programme called "Loves Me Not" that is in many high schools around New Zealand and challenging the way senior level students look at their relationships - what is healthy, what isn't, what to do about unhealthy ones, and how to gain and maintain healthy ones.
Lesley Elliott's courage and commitment to make something wonderful from what was a parent's worst nightmare is extraordinary, and that commitment has produced an excellent programme that I believe is a "must" for all young adults.
"Controlling relationships" are not OK and are not the norm, as young people are often led to believe. A complete paradigm shift needs to occur across our society in what is acceptable in relationships. Violence is never OK; controlling the behaviour and outside contacts of a partner is never OK. Our organisation is sponsoring the books that go with that programme and I recommend them to any parent to read and give to their children to read.
That said, I have also become increasingly aware of the behaviour of young women in a social setting - I have had a wedding venue for many years. There have been many occasions where I have had to ban drunken young women from another drink, or half-carry them to a waiting cab, or pick them up as they fall again on the dance floor while their "mates" stand laughing.
I have a huge concern for the way in which young women behave in relationship to alcohol. While I am one of the first to stand up and say that women have the right to be safe (and have in fact spent many years working in that area), with rights come responsibilities.
It is a woman's responsibility to make sure she is able to make decisions for herself. That is virtually impossible when she is so drunk that she is not able to stand, let alone keep herself out of danger.
It is not helped by dressing so that everything is flagrantly and provocatively on display, and more so when she falls with her dress round her neck. Yes, it's a woman's right to dress how she wants - but it is also a responsibility to dress in a manner that shows how she wants to be treated.
I can hear the howls of protest - but think about it! Women and men are two entirely different creatures, with different responses and triggers.
Wise up, young women. You, and only you, have the ultimate responsibility to keep yourself safe, by behaving in a manner that signals that you are precious, special and deserve a man that is appreciative of you and your unique character. Please, you beautiful young women, do not downgrade yourself by behaving in a trashy manner - because you will attract trash.
Liz Holsted is an orchardist living in Mangawhai. The book Loves-Me-Not is discussed on sophieelliottfoundation.co.nz.
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