Our Whole Lives helps parents fulfill their role as the primary educators of their children on issues of sexuality and helps creates a partnership between the family and the church through parent orientation and parent education programs. Children and youth who participate in the program will know that their church cares about sexuality as a God-given part of life. In the program, children and youth will build relationships with faithful adults who care about sexuality education and sexual development. The program offers comprehensive sexuality education, which is about much more than just anatomy and health. It is about values, respect, emotions and justice.
We live in a culture that is deeply conflicted about sexuality. Our Whole Lives is an antidote to a culture that is saturated with mixed messages and misinformation about sexuality. It provides an opportunity to step back, reflect and evaluate these messages, so that participants can more effectively act on and communicate their religious and sexual values. The program helps children and youth develop and articulate their religious and sexual values and to make responsible, healthy decisions based on those values. The program teaches that we are responsible to and accountable to God, others and ourselves.
Parents decide whether or not their children will participate. Most parents support sexuality education and very few choose not to have their children participate.
While it may be advisable for a church to request consent from both parents for participation in church activities such as the Our Whole Lives program whenever possible, such dual consent is not mandatory. There are two kinds of permission forms: A visual form if visuals are going to be used—or a non-visual form if the visuals are not going to be used.
Parents have the right to see all materials their children will see. This is done in the context of parent orientation session(s) where an open, trusting atmosphere is created, one in which all sincere questions are addressed, one in which there is an open, trusting relationship established and where questions and concerns are welcomed and addressed and no information is withheld.
Participate in the Parent Orientation session(s).
Sign a permission form to enroll their child(ren). While it may be advisable for a church to request consent from both parents for participation in church activities such as the Our Whole Lives program whenever possible, such dual consent is not mandatory.
Make a commitment to regular attendance by their child(ren).
Help out as needed (providing snacks, transportation, chaperoning, etc.).
Speak with the facilitators (pastor or religious educator) if you have any concerns or questions at any time during the program.
Parents are the primary sexuality educators of their children.
Our Whole Lives seeks to open and strengthen communication between parent and child. It directly and indirectly encourages youth to have conversations with their parents about a variety of sexuality issues.
As sexuality educators, parents may want to educate themselves about areas of sexuality they know little about or feel uncomfortable with. Some ways parents can engage in ongoing learning include:
Start a sexuality education resource library for parents, youth and others.
Participate in a program for parents as sexuality educators at their community Health Center, Planned Parenthood, etc.
Explore resources recommended by Our Whole Lives, both websites and printed material.
Start a parent's support group.
Advocate for the adult sexuality resource: Created in God's Image.
Participate in and/or advocate for an Open and Affirming program in the church.
Purchase the Advocacy Manual for Sexuality Education, Health and Justice: A Resource for Communities of Faith , an excellent resource for use in advocacy efforts in all communities. It may be ordered from United Church of Christ Resources for $12.00 by calling 1-800-537-3394.