The objective of this article is to help parents find ways to talk to their children about sex in an effort to promote healthy and responsible attitudes toward sexuality.
By: Susan Adams, M. Ed.
Understanding Sexuality From an Adolescent View/Preventing Problem Teens
Summary: Understandably, sex is a difficult subject for anyone to discuss and many parents just don't know how to do it. This article provides some ideas.
A dialogue about sex should begin when children are young and beginning to ask, "where do babies come from?" We use correct terms then and answer questions when asked, giving straight explanations without reactions of surprise or shock. This practice lays a foundation for good parent-teen communication later. If sex can be talked about, anything can. Here are some guidelines.
Read up on the subject of sex. Know what questions are likely to be asked, what the correct terminology is, and use them in talking with your youngster. If this is difficult, practice with your spouse first.
Offer frankly, from time to time, to discuss sex or simply raise the question and talk about it. Teens often don't know how to bring it up.
Present sex as a wholesome, normal, and desirable human element. Talk about it as contributing to a loving and satisfying marriage and why sex is better in committed relationships.
Help your children to learn and understand the differences in the genders. Especially important is helping adolescents understand the emotional makeup of both sexes and how this affects relationships.
Prepare your children for the physiological changes that come with puberty. The same sex parent can do this best. Also, discuss such subjects as wet dreams, masturbation, and menstruation. Adolescents need to know that the sexual urges they feel are normal, part of growing up, and can be controlled and directed in a wholesome manner.
Encourage your adolescent to talk to you about the issues confronting teens such as kissing, petting, and venereal disease. Also premarital sex, and birth control. If you find that your youngsters views are different from yours, don't panic or criticize. Listen calmly and then present your views.
Boys need to understand that they have a responsibility not only for the pregnancy but for the emotional involvement and upset which follow when they have "gone all the way". Girls need to be aware that they have a responsibility in drawing the line for kissing and petting and that failure to set a limit early is misleading to the boy. Both share the responsibility for things going too far too quickly. Parents have a responsibility for not helping youngsters get into situations where decisions may be made that are later regretted by not creating environments for such decisions to be made. That is, not going out and leaving youngsters dating youngsters alone or having unchaperoned parties.
Point out the harm that comes from the exploitation of one person y another and from the problems that result from irresponsible sexual encounters--illegitimate births, forced marriages, high divorce rates, and venereal disease.
Regardless of how effectively parents are able to communicate with their children about sex, parents are providing sex education by the way they behave toward each other and toward their children, and by what they say and don't say. Your own marital relationship and sexual attitudes are the first places to look in working toward better understanding of sex by our adolescents.