Sex and Your Teenager

 

If you haven't offered an opinion, they may believe you don't have one. You don't have to be an expert on all of this. Who is? You probably don't have all the answers in your own life, much less all the answers for your children. But having all the answers is not the point. The real value of these conversations is that your teens have someone to talk with who has more facts and more experience and who also cares deeply.

College students in one large survey gave lots of wrong answers to questions about their bodies, fertility, birth control, and sexually transmitted diseases. Who else is going to tell them if you don't? Giving them a book to read, or saying, "Let me know if you have any questions about things" is not going to be as helpful as you hope it might be.

They may not know, for instance, that celibacy is a valid, acceptable option, especially in these days of sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS. They may not know the words--"If you loved me, you'd wait," for example--to help them avoid sex. A 1992 study showed that "resistance" skills for young men was the most effective deterrent to too-early, risky sex.

If all your children's friends can't wait to get rid of their virginity, don't expect your kids to get peer pressure at school promoting sexual abstinence. You may want to talk with them about choosing contraceptives and sexual partners, about what their options are if they get pregnant, and about how not to be taken advantage of--a conversation for both sons and daughters.

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