Course seeks to help parents communicate with children

By Kathy Schmugge

COLUMBIA — A newly released study from the University of Minnesota Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health found that girls were less likely to become sexually active when they knew their mothers would disapprove. The researchers concluded from the study “parents need to be clear about their values and then clearly articulate them to their children and adolescents.” This is not the first study that has illustrated the vital role parents’ play in their children’s lives.

Since its inception in 1987, Family Honor Inc. has promoted parental involvement and has been teaching parents how to communicate to their children “important life values with a special focus on the truth and goodness of human sexuality and the virtue of chastity.”

Because more school, churches and organizations recognize that parents want their children to develop healthy attitudes about themselves and their sexuality, the demand for Family Honor programs has increased. In order to keep up with the requests coming from as far away as California and Florida, Family Honor offers a comprehensive instructor course that is the first step to certifying new presenters.

The course titled “The Principles of Teaching Family-Centered Education” will be offered this fall beginning Oct. 12 with five additional sessions on Nov. 9, Dec.7, Jan. 11, Friday evening, Feb 7, and Saturday, Feb. 8. The cutoff date for registration is Sept. 20. Students who complete the course will receive three college credits given through Newman University in Wichita, Kan., which can be applied to teacher re-certification. Family Honor is the only organization in the country that offers a credited course.

Some of the topics presented include research on family-centered chastity education, psychosexual development of children and adolescents, Theology of the Body and total person sexuality, communication skills that support family connectedness, and the unique role of parents in family life and sexuality education.

Family Honor is looking for men and women to enroll in the teacher course who want to support parents in raising virtuous children and establish a pro-active, hopeful response to negative cultural attitudes about sex by sharing their appreciation of sexuality as a gift from God. Although about half of the students actually go on to become presenters, all participants remark how beneficial this course was for them. One person described the Family Honor approach as one that promotes the dignity of the person.

“On a professional level, I have more information and tools to work with. A clearer understanding of the adolescent thinking helps me to share in a more effective way,” said Dr. Ruby Maniago, pediatrician and graduate of the teacher course. “I am able to encourage parents in their role as teachers and models their children look to, that it is primarily the relationship and connectedness they have with their parents that deters early sexual activity.”

The course instructors, Ann Nerbun, R.N., M.S.N., and Mary Ann Fey, M.Ed., Ed.S., are both authors of several books on chastity-related topics such as Sex and Chastity: What’s a Parent to Say and Understanding Chastity, The Mystery of Human Sexuality. Nerbun, a practicing nurse and Family Honor’s program director, is one of the original founders of the organization. Fey, assistant principal at St. Joseph Catholic School in Columbia, also serves as the education consultant for Family Honor, She is constantly updating the course as teacher and curriculum writer. With their combined educational and medical backgrounds they try to present a factual and balanced picture of the current culture with a hope-filled picture for the future.

“For many men and women who take our course, it is a defining, life-changing event that gives them hope for being able to articulate this message better to family and friends and also hope for their community and society at large,” said Brenda Cerkez, executive director of Family Honor, who invites everyone to consider the course as “an opportunity to impact family life right now and also for the next generation.”

Montez Jones, a chastity educator and youth minister who took the classes, agreed.

“Not only did I receive the knowledge about sexuality that I needed for my job and ministry working with youth,” she said, “but I also received knowledge that will help me in my ministry as a wife, mother and a woman.”

Contact Family Honor

If you are interested in the teacher course or if you would like to help Family Honor in other ways, please call (803) 929-0858 or e-mail Brenda Cerkez at Also visit their Web site at