March is National Talk to your Teen about Sex Month
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“Teenagers say that their parents most influence their decisions on sex, love, and relationships,” (according to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy). Ncfamily.org reiterates this statement declaring, “Almost 60 percent of 12-14 year olds indicated that parents have the greatest influence on their decisions about sex. [Interestingly enough], “only 34
percent of parents who have adolescent children thought that parents have the most influence over teens’ decisions about sex.”
But the truth is, as parents, you do have influential power of creating awareness and acting as a source of information for teens about sex.
The conversational topics of sexand/or sexuality are often times challenging for parents and their teenage sons
and/or daughters, but it is a conversation that must start early and continue long after “the talk”.
Because of the taboo nature of sex, many parents often resist or hesitate to participate in that conversation, disallowing themselves to play a participative role of teacher to their child’s student. Because of this reluctance, many parents miss multiple opportunities that arise in the interactions they have with their children to begin that important conversation and allow for open
dialogue to take place.
It is important, as parents, to allow for an inclusive, open communicative space for teens to feel comfortable in reaching out and starting that often scary or embarrassing discussion about their curiosity or pressure they feel towards sex and their feelings toward their own sexuality. In creating that safe interaction zone, parents can utilize their own experiences and their own expertise to guide their children to an informative, positive, and safe sexual and dating direction. According to the article, 5 Ways to Become an Approachable Parent: Positive Parenting for Teen Sexual Health, in order for open communication to occur between parent and child, parents need to remember to have a “nonjudgmental outlook, a listening ear, open-mindedness, a calm demeanor, and light-heartedness”.
Open communication allows for teens to take value in making their own, informed decisions in regards to sex, while also allowing parent to acknowledge that their teens are young adults equipped with factual information and the ability to make the most informed decisions in regards to the health and overall well-being.
So how do parents ease their way in starting that dialogue with their teens?
Healthychildren.org in the article, How do I talk with my teen about sex?offers some tips:
•BE PREPARED. Read about the subject so your own questions are
answered before talking with your teen. Practice what you plan to say with your
spouse or partner, a friend, or another parent. This may make it easier to talk
with your teen when the time comes. Speak calmly and clearly.
•BE HONEST. Let your teen know that talking about sex isn’t easy for you but
that you think it’s important that information about sex comes from you. And
even though you would prefer that your values be accepted, ultimately decisions
about sex are up to your teen. If your teen disagrees with you or gets angry,
take heart, you have been heard. These talks will help your teen develop a
solid value system, even if it’s different from your own.
LISTEN.Give your teen a chance to talk and ask questions. It’s important that you give
your full attention.
•TRY TOSTRIKE A BALANCE. While teens need privacy, they also need information and
guidance from parents. If your teen doesn’t want to talk with you about sex and
tells you that it’s none of your business, be firm and say that it is your
business. Your teen should know that you’re asking out of love and concern,
especially because there are potentially harmful situations. If your teen is
quiet when you try to talk about sex, say what you have to say anyway. Your
message may get through.
•ASK FOR HELP. If you just can’t talk to your teen about sex, ask your
pediatrician; a trusted aunt or uncle; or a minister, priest, or rabbi for
help. Also, many parents find it useful to give their teens a book on human
sexuality and say, “Take a look at this, and let’s talk.”
Many studies have shown that investing in the time and commitment it takes to educate and inform teens on sex, sexuality,and healthy relationships leads to teens taking responsibility with their own sexual behavior. Children need and wish for their parents to step up and be the authoritative figure on matters such as sex, sexuality, and dating relationships, because children see their parents as protectors of their social and emotional welfare. Parent’s values, attitudes, and beliefs about sex should be understood and appreciated by teens to make sure they make the best possible behavioral decisions when it comes to their sexual behavior and health. In order for this to occur, open communication channels between parent and child should be open, ready for anything to come its’ way because open parent-child communication truly serves as a win-win for both parent(s) and teens!
So get talking!