Teenage Sexuality – 3 Discussion Starters for Talking to Teenagers About Sexuality
So you want to talk to your preteen or teen about their sexuality? But you don’t know what to say, or what questions to ask without getting a yes/no answer? Often the teenage years are seen as being on autopilot where parents can sit back and relax their involvement. Yet, now is the time when teenagers need to know they can come to you to help them sort out their confusing questions. They need guidance with out lecturing and convictions with out moral relativism. Here are a few questions to get you started:
1. What does sex mean to you?
This is a good starting point to talking with teenagers about sex. A person’s perception of sex can be skewed by sexual abuse and the media.
Victims of sexual abuse may have repulsion toward sex. It often affects a person’s self image and the value they place upon themselves. They become afraid of being hurt again, and may avoid sex altogether. Or victims may experience anger and the desire to be in control – assuring oneself that they will not be hurt again. Thus, becoming more sexually active on their own terms. Neither approach is healthy. If your teenager has been a victim of sexual abuse, then I encourage you to get them some counseling to help them move from being a survivor of sexual abuse to an overcomer.
What can be said about the media? Is it all bad? No. Is it all good? No. Is it everywhere? Yes! Our culture is saturated with technology and the media. A person can watch the weather, or keep current on the headlines with a smartphone. Likewise, sexuality is common to all media outlets. If there is something in the media that is offensive to you, use it as a point of discussion rather than criticism. Ask your teenager about his/her perception of the offensive content. Engage their opinions rather then lecture them.
2. How do you know when is the right time to have sex?
This question is designed to help you and your teen begin to have a discussion about their perceived readiness of sexuality. Notice I said “perceived” readiness. This does not necessarily mean they really are prepared for sexual relationships. Most teens are short term thinkers, and do not consider the physical threats of sexual behavior. It is essential that you are current on all health risks when facilitating a discussion with teens. Doing your research shows you are in touch with their culture, and interested in the struggles they may face. You can log onto the Center for Disease Control website (www.cdc.gov) for current information on adolescents and risks from sexual behavior.
3. Do you think sex makes people feel closer?
Blinded by the influence of the media, sexual behavior is seen as a rite of passage filled with emotional intensity. They fail to see the huge rejection, and feelings of betrayal, that can follow when a break up occurs. In addition, some teens express some damage to their self worth after engaging in sexual behaviors; particularly if they were “used” as a sexual object on their partner’s lists of sexual conquests. Sexual behavior creates emotional vulnerability, not necessarily closeness. It is rare that teens have the emotional capacity to handle such feelings.
Remember, the intention in discussing the risks with your teenagers is to educate them how to make wise decisions. This must be done without lecturing them. All you can do is help them be aware of the facts, weigh them out, identify their own conclusions, and foster continued open communication for further dialogue.