Part 5 - Let’s Talk About Sex: Giving Your Teen “The Talk”
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By Mia Bolaris-Forget
Although what your child sees and learns on the streets and via the airwaves is extremely important and influential, experts agree it doesn’t have as much impact as what he/she sees and hears at home. According to authorities, children are “experimenting” at a much younger age these days, some as early as 12 or younger. They note that the best way to protect your child from sexual misconduct is NOT to shield them from the facts, but to give them a clear understanding of them.
1. Identify and Define Sex and Sexual Behavior: Experts report that many adolescents do not have a clear understanding of sex and what is considered a sexual act. They erroneously believe that touching, heavy petting, and oral sex are NOT sex. According to authorities however, anything pertaining to sex and sexual organ IS sex.
2. Don’t Wait: Remember kids today are exposed to much more information, much earlier and are frequently wiser than their years. Refrain from having “The Talk” when they approach you, or when you think they are at risk…they may be at risk sooner than you know or would like to believe. Keep in mind that you are your child’s most trusted primary influence. Make sure they get the correct information from you and that you leave the door wide open for additional questions and communication.
3. Relate that SEX is NOT a trend: No matter how many people your child claims are “doing it”, it’s important YOU don’t give into social peer pressure and make the decision that YOU too need to “progress” with the times. Sex has very strong emotional and physical implications that many youngsters are simply incapable of or not ready to handle. SEX is not a trend, it has NEVER been okay for adolescents to be engaging in adult activity and despite “convincing arguments”, and it never will be.
4. Stay Involved: As your children grow and mature, they probably won’t think it’s “cool” to have you hanging around. Don’t let this phase, faze you. Before “letting them go” insist that they keep you informed. Remember, keeping them (sexually) safe demands YOU having an “intimate” relationship with them. Know who they are hanging out with, what they are doing, where they are doing it and when.
5. Clarify And Place a Strict Label On Friendship: Many adolescents refer to casual sexual acquaintances and partners as friends. Redefine the term “friendship” and clarify that the term friend refers to a strictly platonic relationship and that people DON’T have sex with their friends. Make sure your child knows and understands the difference.
6. Be Specific About The Consequences: Many adolescents engage in heavy petting and oral sex as a rite or passage and a means of experimentation. They view these acts as “normal” and “harmless” but fail to realize the emotional consequences. You need to make them understand that sex is just as emotional as it is physical and that even hugging, kissing, and touching (while they may “feel good) could have both positive and negative repercussions. Make sure you include medical facts about the health risks associated not only with sex put with oral sex and other very intimate acts.
7. Discuss the Psychology of sex: Assure your teen that having sex (at such a young age) is not cool nor does it make someone cool. In fact, it’s imperative you help them understand that frequently the opposite is true. Let him/her know that outer beauty has very little to do with why people want to have sex with him/her. In fact, it’s likely people are preying on his/her vulnerability and insecurity. Impart on your child that this may be damaging to future (healthy) relationships, the ability to believe in himself/herself, trust, love and be loved.
8. Emphasize that true love and sex are independent of each other: Surely sex is a beautiful and important part of adult love, but one is not contingent on the other. No one should ever feel pressured to have sex or be “guilted” into it. Instead, explain to your child and help him/her understand that in due time, with the right person and under the appropriate circumstances, this beautiful exchange will happen naturally, mutually, and willingly between the couple and sans the threats and fear of loosing the other person.
9. Be A Cheerleader: Keep in mind, that in early
adolescence, youngsters try to act in an “adult” manner to gain respect and affirmation as they make the transition from childhood into “adulthood”. What’s most likely is that they seek “validation” from inappropriate outside venues and persons. YOU need to be the one to make your child feel “grown-up”, appreciated, loved, considered and respected. Giving your child value will instill in him/her greater value for himself/herself and he/she will know and feel they are special and will be less inclined to “prove” it.
10. Redefine Adulthood: Let your child know that being an adult encompasses much more than having sex. Let him/her know that while sex IS extremely important for adults, it is only special with the right person and is only one of MANY adult “privileges”, including making the decision about having intimate relations. Give your child permission to transition into “adulthood” by helping him/her make age appropriate decisions and make taking that privilege away if they prove they can’t handle it. Also explain that if they can’t handle “simple” responsibilities they are far from being able to handle sex.
11. Help Them Explore Their Sexuality: Identify and Discuss age appropriate intimacy and relationships. Encourage their crushes and love interests and help him/her express feelings, thoughts and affections. Dispense certain freedoms such as talking to a member of the opposite sex on the phone, having friends of the opposite sex, inviting friends over, holding hands while skating or watching a movie, exchanging gifts or cards and simply enjoying each others company. Enforce self-respect and never compromising their health or reputation.
Next: Part 6 - Undercover Secrets
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Part 5 - Let’s Talk About Sex: Giving Your Teen “The Talk”