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Sex is the single most difficult topic to talk to
your teens about. I have been working with parents of teens for over two
decades, and I am hands-down confident about this statement. No matter how good your relationship with your teen, it's tough to imagine your kid in that sort of physical entanglement or to feel completely comfortable with a sex talk. Nonetheless, it is absolutely necessary to
get comfortable talking to your teens about sex. If you have good
communication with your teen about this sensitive topic, your kid will make
better and safer decisions in the sexual arena.
Most importantly, do not expect either you or your teen to
start out being comfortable with this topic. Comfort comes with practice. I
promise you this. You will have plenty of opportunities to talk about sex
because the whole idea of a birds-and-the-bees conversation is just
plain silly. As your teen gets more comfortable and begins to see you as a
go-to person, there will be several opportunities to talk about sex.
Find Opportunities to Discuss Sexual Issues
The media will provide you with plenty
of opportunities to talk to your teens about sex. Say you read a newspaper article about
teens' rate of pregnancy or use of condoms—share it with your
teen and ask for her thoughts. You may even want to watch an episode of Teen
Mom with your teenager to get her input and start the dialogue. Talking about teens in the media
makes things a lot easier because your kids are not yet talking about
themselves. That will come next.
I can also promise you that you are much more likely to become your teen's go-to person about sexuality if you listen to them
without lots of interrupting or judging. He will also appreciate it if you
don't become emotionally overreactive in response to what he is telling
you. Even if you are having an emotional reaction to what he is saying, remind yourself that your goal is to keep the conversation going, and, if you
start to freak out, the discussion will end abruptly—I can guarantee that
this will happen. I have both seen and heard parents and teens tell me about
these sorts of abbreviated conversations for over 20 years. I am not
suggesting that you not share your own sets of values with your teen, but do so
in a way that doesn't make him feel criticized or judged. Do the best you can!
Of course, it won't be easy ... but you'd rather have your teen talk to you than
someone on the schoolbus, right?
Talk About the Delicate Interplay Between the Heart,
Body and the Mind
I can never stress this point enough. In school, from
friends, and from parents, teens learn about the mechanics of sex: What
intercourse involves, what an orgasm feels like, how to put on a condom, how to
avoid sexually transmitted diseases, what sexually transmitted diseases are,
and how they can be spread. Sadly, though, they learn little about the connection
between physical intimacy and the head and heart. Parents must talk to their
teens about how feelings get very much involved when getting physically
involved with a partner. Physicality does not exist in a vacuum. I have seen
way too many teens become distressed when the person that they "hooked-up" with on Saturday night ignored
them in school on Monday. And, this is true for boys and girls. Both groups have
more than just their skin in the game.