Talking Over the Tough Topics
Parenting teens can make even the most battle tried parent long for the potty training days. As hard as we try, we can not and sometimes don’t want to recognize that our teens are moving quickly to adulthood and to a realm where our influence is very limited.
The first resolution every teen parent must make is to get over their own embarrassment when talking to teens about drugs, alcohol, and sex. If you want to share your values on these issues you can not leave it to others to share your view. The school, church, and the internet may have views that are very different than yours. Chances are if your teen is not seeking adult advice about this these sensitive areas in their lives, they are consulting their peers, who are as clueless as they are.
If you do not feel like you have the expertise on these areas get online and read. Drop by your local Planned Parenthood office and pick up your brochures. If a situation comes up and your teen asks you something you do not know a lot about be honest. It is a great chance to get to learn something together and your teen will respect the fact you care enough to help them find the answers.
The second resolution is simple. We all know it, but do it anyway. Don’t lecture your teen when you talk to them. Yes, it is our ideal that all of our kids put off sex until they are adult and never experiment with drugs, but if happen and we lecture our teens we will not be heard. If your teen tells you they are having sex, feel free to tell them you are disappointed. Then ask them what about that they want to tell you. Respect their right to not discuss every detail of their lives. There are parts that really are none of your business especially in the later teen years.
Offer your help even if you are disappointed in what you hear. If they need birth control or are worried that they are pregnant be there for them. Make the doctor appointment. Do not do drama. If you have to wait a week to get into the doctor to confirm a home pregnancy test do not make this the topic of conversation for the whole week. Do not talk about solutions to a problem you do not know exists. Yes, you probably do know because those home tests are accurate, but provide some real structure for your teen to handle their problem in. One step at a time will help you and your teen deal better with crisis situations.
If the help is simply helping your teen decide if they want to use birth control, leave them an out. Make the appointment to get the birth control, but direct them towards other ideas as well. Abstinence is not a bad thing and even if they are already sexually active it is a choice they can still make. Avoid religious arguments that have to do with them repenting of their current behavior. Abstinence is more appealing to teens when it is presented in rational terms.
The last resolution is to make rules for your teen’s behavior that respect the fact that in many ways they are already young adults. Ask them what their values are if they do not share with you. Tell them why you hold the values you have. Let them share their plans for the future and get on board with their goals. You can always share the goals you have for them adults, but remember in the end it is their life.
You can have this conversation over a cozy dinner or at a time when you are doing something that your teen likes. We do not need to be our teens friends, they have friend, but we do need to be the first adults our teens come too when they have major life issues.
We can not return to Victorian values when it comes to sexuality. We must embrace the radical change that has come with the decades.We are not preparing our teens for an ‘if they become sexually active” we must make the assumption it will happen in the teen years. Teens that are allowed to express themselves in ways that make them feel unique and successful, will not look to sexuality for a sense ofselfworth.
Going Beyond The Birds and Bees:
comprehensive and abstinance only sex education. I spent a large amount of time advocating for compressive sex education for my kids when they were in high school. School board elections and heated debates about the issue dominated our community for a while. The misconception that this is an either or decision still persists.
Indiana has gone for the abstinence only approach to appease parents on the Christian right. It is not only that it leaves more rational parents to have to get the information they give their children from somewhere else, it means parents have to correct the wrong information given to their kids.
My son was in school in Cicero Indiana, a town that became famous for allowing Ryan White to attend school with aids when other area schools would not. Yet, in the environment where the Christian right has infiltrated all the public institutions the school that accepted Ryan White was teaching students that the aids virus was so small that it could pass through condoms . They taught that condoms were useless. There to me could be nothing more pathetically ironic than this. To add insult to injury, they were and probably still are doing this with tax payers money.
Having prefaced the article with my own tale, I thought it would be good just to do a basic overview of what exactly comprehensive sex education was.
Parents can be drown in the amount of information available about teen sexuality. Calling your local Planned Parenthood can help a parent find the essential information they need to give their teen.
Giving Teens Options
Comprehensive sex education is first and foremost exactly what it claims to be. It is an attempt to give all of the options including information on abstinence. It also includes information about various birth control methods .Most importantly it talks about preventing the spread of sexual transmitted diseases and simple steps to avoid unwanted pregnancy. In the case of condom they do both very well when used correctly. It is a form of sex education because it covers the use of condoms does not make the issue of sexual responsibility a “girls” problem.
Comprehensive sex education provides another valuable tool when taught right. It teaches communication skill between sexual partners. Given this day and age where date rape is an ongoing problem because young men do not seem to understand the basics of consent this is a need skill to pass on to our young males. Girls also need to understand and negotiate their rights as female sexual partner. Yes maybe it is unrealistic to think that teens hot and heavy in a car are going to stop and think about what they are doing, but they need to know how to have this conversation in case they are inclined to be more responsible.
Why the two approaches to sex education are different
There major difference between comprehensive sex education and abstinence-only is in approach . Abstinence only tends to take the religious based sexual view of sexual behavior. It ignores issues of gender, ethnicity, and diverse religious teachings on matters of sexuality. It also ignores a great deal of common sense that most experts have about the behavior of teens. Teens from religious backgrounds have been shown in study after study to delay first significant sexual contact but to eventually give in and without the use of any kind of protection. It is like abstinence only sex education is a weak dam that only holds the flood back for a short time. Then when the water follows no one has bother to show these kids how to make it to higher ground.
We should not wait til the teen years to talk about values and sex.
Some of the Goals of Comprehensive Sex Education
•Comprehensive sex education at it’s cores seeks to provide the following information
•To provide general education about human development and its effect on human sexual behavior and to be brave enough to understand that sexuality in the context of diverse cultural experiences.
•Comprehensive sex education strives to provide a place where teens can have their questions answered in a none threatening and non judgmental way. It puts a square emphasis on the need for responsible sexual behavior.
•It outlines the way that teens that are already sexually active to monitor their sexual health by understanding what sexually transmitted diseases are and how to test for them. It gives them the tools they need in order to prevent future exposure and perhaps deal with current exposure. For teens who feel pressured to have intercourse before they feel emotionally ready it help them deal with issues such as’ peer pressure” and potential sexual coercion.
•Over all comprehensive sex education does not at its root try to undo the teachings of parents to their children about sexual behavior. It encourages parent to do their job and to hold these conversations about sexuality and individual behavior. It is not the job of the school to instill narrow views of human sexual experience into our youth.
Respect was part of the who process of young people coming together as adult couples. We need to teach respect in the context of the landscape of sexual freedom.We can not return to past centuries codes of conduct that ritualized the relationships between young men and womenSource: Courtship
We all find ourselves having very emotional opinions about the rape case involving the teenage boys in Steubenville Ohio. Yet, even if we see the girl somewhat culpable for the incident; we have to admit that there is a larger issue. The issue is that our society seems to be failing to teach young men to respect young women.
The issue of allowing women in combat recently came to the attention of the United States public.Conservatives were laughed at when they suggested that women could not be in combat because young men would be inclined to want to ‘protect’ them in battle. This would lead to young men being distracted from their mission.
Only if this statement was true. We could use more men interested in ‘ protecting’ women. It seems we have large numbers of young men looking to exploit young women.The number of rapes that go unreported in our military is staggering . many women who report rapes feel they are not treated fairly. Some young men in the military apparently are just reflecting the same cultural norm as seeing women as sexual objects.
Our society is still reeling from the sexual revolution of the late sixties. We tell our young men that women are often victims and yet should not be treated as victims. We say they need protection, yet they are as physically capable as men. We tell young women to express themselves sexually. They do this without regard to the feelings they may evoke in young men. It seems to encouraging tasteful dress, somehow is part of conspiracy to ‘blame the victim’. Young women are not encouraged to have any common sense in the way the dress or act in public.
We teach girls from a young age through movies and media that women have sexual power and that gives them worth. We still teach young men that ‘real’ men have lots of indiscriminate sex and it somehow makes them more praiseworthy. We do all this while; our religious groups tell youth sex is sacred. We do all this; while avoiding telling young people in plain and simple terms how to avoid pregnancies and STD.