Health Articles & News Update
Giving You Instant Access To The World's Health Experts!
|Home | Disease & Conditions | Diet & Nutrition | Fitness | Healthy Living | Recommended Products | Contact|
Healthy Living >>> Sexual Health Articles & News
Opening the Channels for 'The Sex Talk' With Your Teenager
By: Jennifer Johnson, MD
Teenagers really want guidance from their parents about sex and sexuality. Sex education gives kids fantastic knowledge, but it doesn't necessarily help them when it comes to their own personal decision-making about whether or not to have sex. That's where parents come in...
Why don't parents talk with their kids about sex more often?Most parents are just not comfortable with it, even now. The parents are made aware that there's going to be a sex education class in their kid's school, and some schools require the parents to sign a permission slip for their kids to participate in the class...but there's no concerted effort to help the parents teach their kids about sex and sexuality.
Do parents generally know what kind of sexual behavior their kids are involved in?Most of the time it turns out that parents already suspect if their kids are sexually active. Parents notice things. They notice stains on underwear, for example. But a lot of parents don't know how to raise the subject. The best time to talk about when it's right to have sex, I think, is when a child is in the early teen years. Pre-teens think sex is yucky. Some kids start having sex in their mid-teen years. If parents haven't given their children guidance by then, it may be too late to impact behavior.
Personally, I think parents need to send two clear messages to their kids. First, they need to tell them when, in their opinion, it's appropriate for a young person to have sex. Second, if their teenager does decide to have sex, I think it's vital that parents express how important it is to protect themselves, and their partners, from pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and emotional hurt.
But some parents are just very uncomfortable talking with their kids about sexuality. I had a mother bring her daughter in for a physical exam. As I was going into the room to see her daughter she handed me a note that said, "Please get Mary on the pill."
Can you predict which parents will have a tough time talking about sex with their kids?I think that parents' communication with their kids about sexuality to a considerable extent reflects their larger relationship with their kids.
The parents who are okay talking with their kids about sex are also going to be okay talking with their kids about other tough topics. It may be, for example, how to manage a fight with a friend at school, or how to get along with a difficult teacher. It goes back to the principle of open communication.
What about parents who are very categorical about what is right and wrong? Does this sort of approach work with teenagers when talking about sex?Parents sometimes have very clear views of what's right and what's wrong. And when that is expressed to the kids, it can actually be very helpful to them. They want to have guidance and they want to have standards and they want someone to tell them, "I think this is right. I think this is wrong."
But I think it's important to explain the rationale so that the adolescent can then think it through on his own and decide, "Yeah, you know, that makes sense to me," or, "No, it doesn't."
So acknowledging that the teenager has a valid opinion is importantAbsolutely. One of the most important things parents can do is to ask their kids their opinions about things and to listen to them. Teenagers are deciding what right and wrong is, and they're testing things a little bit. They'll think over their parents' ideas, and in most cases, they actually accept their parents' standards of what's right and what's wrong, but they have to have the right to make those decisions.
That's why parenting an adolescent is so tricky, because a lot of parents don't realize that for the adolescent to grow up in a healthy manner, their relationship with their adolescent has to change. By the time that child turns 21, the relationship should be closer to that of an adult than a child. The beginning of that gradual separation is adolescence.
Home | Disease & Conditions | Diet & Nutrition | Fitness | Healthy Living | Recommended Products | Contact