Sex and Your Teenager

Excerpt from Every Woman's Body

Most parents like to believe that their daughters and sons will wait until they are on their own, far from home, responsible for their actions, etc. etc. before they become sexually active. In today's real world, over half of teens have had sex at least once before leaving highschool. To further complicate matters, half of unmarried sons and daughters live at home until age 24 if they're not living in a college dormitory.

One-third of U.S. teens did not use birth control the first time they had sex. The good news is that this 1990 statistic is a substantial improvement over the past. And though European countries such as Sweden, for example, accept premarital sex more easily than we do, U.S. teens have the highest pregnancy rate, 11 percent, in the industrialized world.

Sex and teens are not necessarily a bad mix, but they are a volatile and unpredictable combination. When abstinence is not the rule, then perhaps birth control ought to be.

What is your part in all this? As a parent, you have several options about what role you will take in your children's sex life. No matter what your position is--for or against teen sex--your children will benefit from your spoken concern about their well-being.

Much to the amazement of many moms and dads, teens care intensely about their parents' opinions, even though they may not always agree with them. Studies show that parents are still the best teachers of values. In research, teens say they wish they could talk to their parents about sex, although that apparently seldom happens. Surveys show that only one-third of US teenagers had actually discussed sex and birth control with their parents.

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