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Transportation Commission: A Proposal for Ann Arbor

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

I was the Chair of the Pedestrian Safety and Access Task force, that turned in our final report September 2015. One of the recommendations in that report was to have a more permanent place in the city to advocate for pedestrian issues. After consultation with city people, transportation people, and those who have been studying this far longer than I have there was general agreement and encouragement to form a new commission, that would deal with transportation as a whole. One of the reasons, in addition to having a more holistic perspective, is how money is considered and distributed. To have money for bikes and pedestrians, we need to look at the budget early in the process – not just a tiny entity asking for a small slice of the pie.
And foremost in my mind are the many reports and studies that are now set aside for the current crisis. I want a commission that will keep that work and great work in front of decision makers. I want those recommendations to be part of the planning and budgeting process.
The following is a possible charter for a Transportation Commission for Ann Arbor. It is a working draft, now in its seventh draft form after lots of input from many sources.
Your input is welcome. Contact me personally, or leave a comment. Thanks.

Proposed Transportation Commission for City of Ann Arbor
Working Document — Seventh DRAFT by Linda Diane Feldt
With modifications suggested by Larry Deck and others — Revised most recent March 3 2016

Purpose:
The Transportation Commission advises the City Council regarding motorized and non motorized transportation matters and recommends projects and policies to enhance safety mobility and access for all people.

The Commission’s roles include:
• Harmonization — Check the alignment of City Council plans and proposals with publicly generated reports from task forces and committees; and other accepted recommendations including a commitment to vision zero.
• Proposals — Bring forward proposals based on the above body of work, and provide updated proposals and recommendations based on a holistic and inclusive overview of the mobility needs of all people.
• Planning — Participate in long-term planning based on past studies and recommendations, including Vision Zero goals.
• Budget – Participate in the city budget process where it pertains to transportation.

Composition:
7-9 people who serve two-year terms.
At least one City Council liaison.
One city staff resource person, part time.
Appointed by Mayor with approval of City Council.
Commissioners represent pedestrian interests, bicyclist interests, car drivers, UM, health care and prevention, environmental concerns, handicapped and disabled interests, bus transportation, train travel and future planning, also possibly aging and young populations. There will be overlap, as few people represent only one category. Looking for balance and diversity.

Resources to consult and incorpoate:
The Pedestrian Safety and Access Task Force Report, 2015
Non-motorized Transportation Plan — 2007 and 2013 Update
City Transportation Plan — 1990 and 2009 Update
Parks & Recreation Open Space Plan 2011-2015
The Ride Five-Year Transit Improvement Plan 2014
Complete Streets Resolution 2011
Re-imagine Washtenaw Ave 2015
North Main Task Force report 2013
Vision Zero Resolution 2015
Ann Arbor Climate Action Plan 2012
Allen Creek Greenway Task Force (in process)
Relevant documents from other Ann Arbor city Commissions including Disabilities, Energy, and Environment.
And these city-generated studies:
South State Street Study, (Downtown Street Typology?) (South Main Street?) (Seventh Street recommendations?), 2010 Ann Arbor Connector Feasibility Study, (Parking recommendations esp. DDA?), as well as county and state generated studies accepted by the city

Communication responsibilities:
• Planning — Create a rolling ten-year plan based on the completed documents mentioned above, including items for immediate action and advocacy. [consider council approval as part of the process]
• Response — Respond to identified citizen and council needs and requests.
• Education — Create a public access information and education component to help direct people to appropriate resources, advocates, and methods for resolving problems or recommending improvements.
• Outreach — Help the city to disseminate information and updates on transportation activities.
• Online information — Maintain a publicly accessible Google group for resources, minutes, agendas, plans, task force reports, and all other materials used. Incorporate this into the city web site as possible.
• Cooperation — Interact with other commissions where the work overlaps.
• Evaluation – Conduct yearly evaluation of progress based on setting goals for the commission and also monitoring previously identified metrics including crashes, fatalities, infrastructure improvements, planning documents, and educational and advocacy efforts.

Logistics:
Meets minimally once a month
Receives information and alerts from city staff and council and the mayor regarding transportation funding, projects, planning, and engineering initiatives
Thorough orientation and a reading list
Elect a chair for one-year term, follow Robert’s Rules and adhere to the Open Meeting Act.

Utilize sub committees for work on specific topics, include additional public members, the commission retains the final approval for all committee work and each committee has 1-2 commission members at a minimum. Committee members chosen by?

Training and staff support:
TBD

DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT

It is Weird to Lose Weight

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

This information may surprise you. Losing weight is unsettling, and weird. Pick up something nearby that weighs three pounds. That’s my last bit lost in the past two months. Even over two months – it is weird. Clothes fit differently, sitting is uncomfortable on those unpadded bones. I look different in the mirror. I should feel normal around other normal people – but I still feel a bit startled. Now go pick up something that ways even fifty pounds. Or twice that 100 pounds. Even though it took ten years, I’m still weirded out by that much loss. There are also toxins and chemicals stored in fat that release into the system, straining the liver and other eliminative systems. That likely adds to the weird feeling. Even with just the recent three pound loss.
I love love love having been so successful in losing nearly 130 pounds now. But it sure is damn weird. And that is just the physical sensation. Emotionally it remains — startling is the best word I can come up with. Have some empathy for those going through it, it is a tricky strange thing on all sides.

In search of my childhood potato chips

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

When i was a kid, it wasn’t uncommon for me to spend my allowance on a large bag of potato chips. On the way back from the store, I would eat half the bag while walking the mile home. This was happiness: mouth pleasure, salt fantasy, greasy love. And of course my mother did not approve. She had some odd ideas about what food was healthy (white Pepperidge Farm bread, Captain Crunch cereal in place of Lucky Charms, as much lunch meats as we wanted swathed with Miracle Whip in place of Hellman’s mayo.)

Potato-Chips

In Ithaca, where my love of salted fried potato slices began, Wise potato chips ruled my life. I would do or say most anything to have them. When we moved back to Michigan I made the transition to the lighter and crispier Lays. Jays potato chips carried me into adulthood, although the local Better Made did pretty well also.

When I started eating mostly organic healthy non-processed foods it was hard to justify the potato chip lust. I tried the kettle cooked organic and even baked varieties, and none were really satisfying. I even spent a year carefully restricted to one bag potato chip purchase per month. The anticipation was greater than the enjoyment.

Because the truth is nothing tastes as wonderful as that childhood chip. It satisfied an emotional need, a young lust for bad food, a craving that would re-emerge and then continue to exist long after the last salty crumbs were enjoyed – licking my fingertips still longing for more. When I was young, I wanted more chips. As an adult I want the bag of chips to work one more time. And the sad truth is, it never does.

Most recently the health food stores I buy groceries from carry an overwhelming selection of potato chips. I even mistakenly bought pickle and chili flavored a few months ago thinking they were plain. Most of the flavored types contain yeast extract – a disguise for MSG – which makes my throat feel sore and the roof of my mouth odd. Sometimes I have a headache as well. So that rules out at least 3/4 of the selection. I keep trying a bag of this or that – but I end up feeling ill afterwards. I buy the plain ones and eat them with a homemade onion and hot sauce sour cream dip. The dip is that only part I really like.

The truth is my childhood chip is gone. Junk food does not fill that need, that longing. It never really did and it never really will.

I’ve upgraded the way I fill my longing. To people and events and food that nourishes me. But yet…

But you know what? The reverse is true of chocolate. The chocolate of my childhood was unremarkable and mostly simple sweet stuff. I never craved it. I could pass on all of it. And often did. The chocolate I enjoy now lasts a long time, it is rich and full and deep and mouth and body pleasurable. It varies from hot chocolate to homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cookies to really dark to partly dark to chocolate cheesecake and flourless cakes. I like having it in the house, and I’m so satisfied with a little that I rarely overindulge. A good chocolate bar can last weeks.

While I was losing weight, I ate as much high quality chocolate as I wanted. There are valuable lessons here.

And the potato chips of my childhood? They were never really real. I have now given up my search. I may need a bit of time to grieve that loss. The fantasy that happiness is possible with salt, oil, and potato slices.

Love for the Ebike

Monday, October 5th, 2015

A few months ago I had my bike converted to an ebike. After waiting and saving my money for a number of years, I finally made the jump. I wish I had borrowed the money and done it years ago.

This conversion has changed my bicycling world. It turns out I had a lot more anxiety about biking than I knew. This may have been related to a previously undiagnosed genetic heart defect. I had a great bike, could make it up most hills with some effort, and enjoyed using it as much as possible. But the ease and comfort and hill climbing ability of the converted bike is just stunning. And thrilling. And exciting. And fun. And so very easy.

I have a version with a nice small but effective lithium battery. It is 350 watts, and 10 amp hourly load. Am I saying that right? About a 15 mile range when you are not pedaling, and it can power the bike to just over 20 MPH on a flat with no pedaling. My first charge was after about 35 miles, I did pedal nearly the whole time. And was mostly cruising around at about 14 MPH most times I checked.

The version I have has “pedal assist” technology, which is much more effective and wonderful that I ever imagined possible. When you start to pedal, the motor turns on, and then you can choose a 1-5 level of assist – from a little to a lot. Mostly then I leave the gearing set to pretty hard, and so when I do pedal I’m going much faster than I would be without the assist. The whole assist thing can be turned off, but then you also don’t have access to the throttle.

The throttle is also there, so at any time you can rev up the motor and in a burst or slow gain have more power added to your pedaling or stop pedaling altogether. I was surprised to find out that one of the ways I use the throttle the most is to make my starts smoother. If I am at a full stop, and crank the pedals around so I can start with my right foot (I just can’t do it with the left) a little throttle added makes the transition to get the bike going much easier. Especially when at a full stop going up hill. This maneuver has often caused me to nearly fall over or at least look really awkward.

I hadn’t realized how much space in my brain was being taken up with thinking of hills, planning on hills, preparing to charge hills, and worrying about making it up hills. Maybe because I’m older. Maybe because of the heart condition. But now, all of that is over.

I also have found that the ability to pick up speed makes it safer to ride with traffic. I have more options, and also more maneuverability. That keeps me safer.

Nearly all of my in city small errands or travel trips have now been by bike, so my car sits out even more than before. Once I get my trailer working I’ll need the car even less. Because I can go further, carry more weight, and enjoy the convenience of being on bike. I just need the car for bad weather, if I’m taking the dog, and for awkward purchases. Even though it’s close, carrying home a bale of straw by bike wasn’t doable. But I’ll work on that.

jim heh bike

This is Jim, who owns Human Electric Hybrids and he did the conversion. I found his work to be excellent, he made it convenient for me, followed up when I asked questions, and just provided excellent service in every respect. I love his passion for the bikes, and the extras that he did – putting on my old bike rack, adding a kickstand, and his care in all the wiring and whatnot associated with the conversion.

Everyone who has tried out the bike returns with a smile on their face. I’ve been biking enough extra now that it has become clear I need a new seat. That’s great! I don’t know how much of a winter rider I’ll be – but I hope for many days of riding in the next few months.

I do love my ebike, and can imagine it will be welcomed by aging bikers like myself as well as anyone who wants to make biking safer and more enjoyable. Especially as the price comes down – the only real downside to this adventure. But so far worth every penny.

Recipe for Mac and Cheese

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Like many of my recipes, this will be a little casual.
The end result is delicious, comforting, great reheated, and can also be frozen for later pleasure. This is fancy enough to serve to guests. It may or may not be okay with kids – since it doesn’t taste or look like the regular out of the box stuff that kids love.

Cook a package of pasta as directed, until just al dente or a little less. Drain, and dump into a large casserole dish. I like seashells, penne, fusilli, elbows, or rotini. I use pasta that is made from organic semolina. Whole wheat just falls apart too easily and doesn’t have the mouth feel I’m looking for.

Melt about 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add an equal amount of stone ground whole wheat flour. The fresher the better. Cook that with a whisk on medium heat for 1-3 minutes, until the flour is well incorporated into the butter and has time to cook a bit as well. It will darken a little, but it is the change in smell that I use to know it is ready. Don’t let the butter get too hot or burn.

Add about 3 cups of good quality whole milk. On medium heat, cook that while whisking often for 10-20 minutes. It should start to thicken. Sometimes it thickens well for me, sometimes I forgo taking it to a boil and let it be a bit thin. Since I’m adding cheese it will thicken with that and also after cooking with the pasta.

I used a large handful of grated gruyere cheese, the same amount of a nutty flavored comte, and about 1 1/2 handfuls Vermont Cheddar. About 1 tsp salt, and a few dashes of white wine – maybe 2 tablespoons. All added to the white sauce and stirred until melted.

Pour that mixture over the cooked pasta, cover top with bread crumbs from a good quality whole wheat bread, 1/2 to 1 cup of crumbs. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour, uncovered.

Serve and enjoy!

Marijuana – now we get to ask more questions

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

The decriminalization of marijuana is essential. I’m thrilled it is slowly taking place. I wish it was more rapid. When I taught 9th graders about drugs and addiction it was hard to explain why a seriously addictive substance like tobacco was legal, a potentially devastating drink like alcohol was considered normal, and marijuana could land you in prison.

I’ve always considered education and treatment to be a better way to deal with drug abuse than incarceration.

One of the serious problems we are now facing is that because marijuana was illegal and “bad” for so long, we haven’t done the studies – the research and the investigation of what the positive effects are, what are the true down sides, and especially what are the long term consequences.

Here is what I’ve observed.

Casual occasional use is no problem for most people. It isn’t a gateway drug, it is a pleasant easy high, and not much of a big deal. Daily use seems to be a big problem for some, a moderate concern for others. Getting high every day is possibly diagnostic of other issues – no matter the substance. Someone who needs to smoke daily is likely self medicating or covering up issues that would be better dealt with. But there is nothing special about marijuana in making that statement. It is generally true.

I’ve had a number of clients – male – who smoked a lot and actually started developing enlarged breast tissue and had other brain changes that seemed to be clearly related to lots of marijuana use. Depression, isolation, lack of motivation, failed or incomplete projects. When they stopped or drastically cut down on their marijuana use they were changed physically as well as a lot more started going well in their lives. About a dozen guys in total took it to that degree, but it is worth noting.

I’ve seen a number of female clients who were long term chronic users, and mostly they were just having trouble with motivation, being known for being chronically late, and they talked about not living their dreams and being frustrated and even depressed. A much smaller sample of about 5 or 6. Again, cutting way back or stopping was very helpful in a sudden ability to do some powerful and effective work.

Now I’m seeing some very long term users – male and female – who I would say have some alarming similarities. After 40 plus years of using, personalty changes that include anger, bullying, lacking skills for conflict resolution, distortion of facts and reality, holding grudges from many years ago, even paranoia. These are not traits I would normally link to marijuana at all, yet the common thread of very long term use is there. Is there something else that happens with long regular term use?

I’ve talked to other people who are equally curious to know if there is a link. They have seen similar behavioral changes in long term users and wonder if marijuana might be contributing to the negative personality changes we’re observing. It is also possible that this type of personality is attracted to marijuana for self soothing and self medicating. But It would be very good to know what are the effects of very long term (more than 3-4 decades) use of marijuana.

We may have many more very long term users, now that it is more acceptable to use marijuana. It would be valuable to have honest and serious research so we can understand the value in marijuana’s use, especially its medical use. I have had a number of clients and friends who have benefited greatly from its use, especially for appetite stimulation during chemotherapy and while using other drugs that created nausea or lack of interest in eating. What about hemp oil and cancer? Knowledge on the many characteristics of this herb would be invaluable. Can we finally get to the point where we can collect and disseminate some honest information?

I do expect the good news to outweigh the bad. I also expect that just like so many drugs, this potent herb is just not a good choice for a fair number of people. If we know what and why that will help people make the choice that is best for them.

I enjoyed smoking marijuana when I was a teenager. There was a period of time when I got high five nights a week to watch “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman”. It was a great show to watch stoned. With sobriety with alcohol, the marijuana fell away as well. I’m not a fan of smoking at all, and ingestion was always too intense. So it isn’t something I’ve done or even wanted to do for many years. So I’m watching all of this as a non-user.

I look forward to the learning ahead of us, and hope it will be helpful and without the influence of money and the lies that used to be told to scare people away from drugs in general and marijuana especially.

Why Work From Home?

Monday, July 7th, 2014

I’ve had a home-based office for all but one of my 34 years in private practice. While there are some challenges and problems, it is well worth it for me. First, the downside.
– there isn’t as much of a line between work and time off. What is left to do is often sitting in front of me. I can’t get away from work easily.
– I loose some privacy with clients coming to my home and seeing y messes, the untended garden, or other projects.
– I’m responsible for making sure they can drive or walk here when it snows.
– if other people are around there can be noise or distractions.
– my dogs want to meet and greet whoever is here, and bark when people come and go.
– there are some people who are put off by the non-clinical setting. I’ve lost some referrals because MDs are as comfortable referring to a home-based office.
– it can be isolating, and there are no office holiday parties or people to share space with.

On the positive side:
– my overhead is far less, and that is a savings I can pass on to clients. I count it as at least $20 less per hour that I have to charge. That makes a big difference.
– my life is easier. I can eat lunch at home, walk the dog, do some gardening, or other things while waiting for clients and between sessions.
– my books, computer, and other materials I might need are right here and handy if I need them for a client. I have salves, oils, and other herbs available to give to clients.
– my dogs can be part of the sessions and don’t spend as much time alone waiting for me to come home.
– I can set up my office as I like, and utilize more energy saving and environmentally friendly options.
– when a client doesn’t show up (like right now as I write this) I have plenty to do at home, at a remote office my options for filling up that time are more limited.
– I save time by not commuting. I have more flexibility with scheduling and can have gaps in my schedule without concern about how to fill time.
– I am not carrying laundry back and forth. And there is a lot of laundry.
– if a client is early I can often be flexible, and even sometimes when they are late.

I like working from home. I’m very grateful that I have that option. I think it has made a huge difference in being able to do the work I love for so long.

New and Old Information on Statin Drugs – Briefly

Friday, July 4th, 2014

I get a sick feeling in my gut whenever I hear the word “Statins”. Because it was a statin drug, Mevacor, that nearly killed my mom – and made her life pretty miserable until she dropped them.

She had congestive heart failure after a heart attack at age 46. She had high cholesterol (over 300) so she was an obvious candidate for statin drugs. A few years after starting them, she was so weak that she was using a wheelchair to get around. And it was getting worse.

A neighbor saw her in the wheelchair one day and mentioned that she had just read an article about Mevacor causeing muscle weakness. Could that be my mom’s problem? My mom immediately contacted her doctor, and went in to ask questions. Yes, muscle weakness was a possible side effect, but no, he didn’t think there was a problem for her because they had been testing her regularly for that. Confused, she pointed out that she was now using a wheelchair to get out and about – where she had been able to walk short distances just a year before. Yes, this really happened.

The MD managed to back track slightly and say well yes, perhaps there was indeed a problem. She went off the drug, made gradual progress with greater and greater strength, and lived a number of years after that before dying of another sudden heart attack.

I found this blog about rethinking statins just today, from a link that Medscape shared. I don’t have training in pharmaceuticals (although I can claim that I had a short appointment as an adjunct faculty member in the University of Michigan’s School of Pharmacy). This is especially well thought out and explains the concepts of benefit versus risk very nicely.

He mentions – in passing – that this drug has not been tested on the elderly, and also the deficit that still exists of studies on women. This is a problem of many may drugs, and should be mentioned a lot more often I think. Dr. Mandrola also brings up the question of natural vs. drug induced cures, and the long term effects, a fascinating topic that deserves a great deal more attention. This is also a very nice place for conventional and alternative practitioners to have beneficial conversations.

This is no small issue. Atorvastatin was at one time the best selling drug ever, Pfizer – formerly of Ann Arbor – reported sales of $12.4 billion in 2008. In 2011 Lipitor alone sold over 7.7 billion in cholesterol lowering pills.

Imagine even a fraction of the amount being spent to promote and support lifestyle changes that we know help heart disease (diet and exercise being primary) or to remove foods and medicines that we know are linked to increase inflammation – and that may be a more important indicator of heart health risk that cholesterol. For more on those measures, please check out the article I wrote a few years ago on herbs and inflammation. You can have your inflammation levels checked with a simple blood test, to check the levels of C-Reactive protein, produced by the liver when there is systemic inflammation.

As with any drug, the natural and simple lifestyle upgrades you can make aren’t being marketed, and many doctors have seen non-motivated patients fail at using them. It is always worth investigating if there is a real and effective way to avoid the drugs and possible side effects. Bone health is another example. If adequate dietary calcium and weight bearing exercise provide the same value as bone-loss preventing drugs, why are the drugs considered the best option? With heart disease in my family, I’m careful to have a vegetarian diet, exercise daily, use a few herbs that are heart-healthy, get 5-9 servings a day of fruits and vegetables, cultivate friendships and community, and practice meditation daily. Not smoking, drinking, and avoiding other unhealthy habits are also part of my prevention and happiness strategy.

Prevention strategies need advocates and people willing to promote them. I think that should be every health care provider.

Indian Spiced Lamb’s Quarters

Monday, June 30th, 2014

A few nights ago I made my favorite greens recipe using lamb’s quarters, a common weed that grows in disturbed ground. Most gardens in Michigan have plenty of them, and they are more nutritious than a lot of the plants that people plant after removing them.

Here is the link to the recipe for “Aromatic Greens”, just use lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium) in place of kale or spinach. They also cook a bit quicker, so 10 -15 minutes of cooking time is fine.

I served these over baked potatoes. Rice, quinoa (also in the Chenopodium family), or other grains. At the same meal I served marinated tempeh. When I put the potatoes in to bake I put sliced tempeh into a mix of olive oil, vinegar, tamari, water, ginger, and a bit of Sriracha sauce. Once this marinated for 1.2 hour I put them onto a baking sheet lined in parchment paper, and baked with the potatoes until they were all done about 1/2 hour later.

A nice balance of the treat of baked potatoes, the very healthy (and free for the picking) Indian spiced greens, and the protein rich tempeh with a bit of hot.

There are more recipes for cooking greens and weeds in my cookbook, “Spinach and Beyond: Loving Life and Dark Green Leafy Vegetables” available from Amazon or from my web site. Just $12 plus shipping.

My Best Sex Advice – Especially for Teens

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

I taught Sex Ed for eight years at a local private high school. I loved it, mostly. The kids were great, it was the parents who were sometimes challenging and who needed hours of time outside the classroom to feel comfortable. There are many stories to tell, but that will come later.
I did hold back on a lot that I wanted to say. I have some regrets, there are things I would do differently. I would talk more about relationships, more about sexual pleasure, provide more context in addition to the basic factual information on birth control and STI prevention. I would have more conversations, especially, about Sylvia Hacker’s idea of promoting “outer-course”

That is my best sex advice for teens. Do you want to learn how to be the best lover? For that first relationship especially, don’t have intercourse for at least a year or two. Do everything else. Learn about your body, what you like, what turns you on, how you get off, what you don’t like. Learn the same about your partner. No penetrative sex for a very long time. You will become a very skilled, creative, and talented lover. You’ll learn how to pay attention to details – one of the other traits of a great lover.

I used to ask my classes – what do you need to have in place before having sex? The responses included marriage, a loving relationship, good communication, birth control, and other expected answers. One shy young man said “a job”. Everyone laughed, but I asked him to explain his answer. He said if something goes wrong, like an unexpected pregnancy, you would need money to have options so you could make good choices. A very wise 10th grader.
And that is another reason why the advice to stay away from sexual intercourse makes practical sense as well. Most teens want – and need to explore sex. Some feel that need acutely. But the overwhelming nature of sex, the possible consequences of pregnancy and STIs, the disruption it can cause, the moral and ethical decisions it requires, the possible emotional backlash, the likelihood of being in an abusive, coercive or exploitative relationship, are also all real. And are many times more likely to be a problem with penetrative sex.

There is very little said in high school and during sex ed classes about how to become a very good and responsible lover – a process that begins much earlier in life than we might want to admit or feel comfortable with. A teenager – enduring raging hormones and fantasies – is well into that process. We do mostly a dreadful job of teaching and helping them learn about sex. I did an adequate job myself during those eight years. I was profoundly careful and cautious, I felt I had to be with such a controversial topic, with so many opinions about what is right and wrong. It is a profoundly personal topic, and I tried my best to honor that while also teaching what was important. The basics.

Speaking ideally, a better method would be to take each kid aside, and ask them what they want to know, what they are ready to learn. Ensure one on one support for each kid that works for them respecting their maturity, their religious and moral beliefs, their current relationships, their interest in the subject. Match them with someone they feel comfortable talking with. Be available to help them process those first relationships, the first time falling in love, having a broken heart. Support them in making difficult decisions, help them learn what they need to know when they are ready to know it. But that is rarely possible. A few parents step into that role, and do it well. Most teens just can’t have the conversations that meet their needs with their own parents.

Should teens be having sex – full on penetrative possibly baby producing outside of marriage sex? Well, most adults (and with collected data and studies we know they mostly of those same adults were sexually active themselves when they were a teen) say no. Many teens also say no. Most of the teens I taught said no. They aren’t ready. And these teens should be given all the support and all the tools they need to live up to their ideals and beliefs and religious convictions and what they need. They need actual practice in how to say no. How to have that conversation successfully. And, some of the teens I taught were already saying oh, yes.
And for that rest, which can be as many as half the teens in any given class, let’s give them a reason to hold back, explore, learn, even enjoy, and a chance to develop a great and positive sex life that they can put into even more full use later in life.
It will make you a better lover in the long term. Delay penetrative sex. There may be some even better reasons developmentally, practically, morally, emotionally, even financially, and more. But we should certainly be offering this reason as well.