Daily Herald March 6, 1981
Sex is a major concern of parents of teenagers. How do you share your values about sex with your teen, when pop songs and magazines teach that being sexy or having sex is the only way to success. Even if you feel awkward or embarrassed, you need to share your sexual values openly and honestly with your teenager. Share how you would attempt to deal with decisions if you were young in a very different world of today. If teens share their ideas and views about sex, don't condemn them if these go against your beliefs. Listen.
Teenagers are searching for identity and values. With support and clarification from you, there is a good chance they will make decisions similar to what yours would be today. Ask a teen to explain what they think about pre-marital sex. If they think it's okay explore with them their reasons. This may help you to help them see the fallacy of their views providing you respond but don't attack or condemn. If they say it's okay, ask them how they came to that conclusion.
"Well everyone's doing it", is one answer. That's a poor reason for doing something. If someone is foolish enough to get drunk and drive at high speeds, or takes dangerous drugs, does it mean you need to do the same? Sexual activity carries dangers, not just the risk of venereal disease or pregnancy, but the loss of self-respect or values in a person's life. "But we love each other", is another reason often given. Ask them to define love. Love is more than hopping hormones. Love is respectful, kind, patient, and most importantly, does not demand its own way.
"But I want to", or "He wants me to prove my love", may be lurking in their mind quietly. If your adolescent feels or is put under pressure to 'put out', they may find help in some of the humorous come-backs in the paperback, You Would If You Loved Me, by Sol Gordon. Gordon says, "If you are told the only way that you prove your love is by having sex it's a line. If you are threatened with rejection if you don't, the one who threatens is not in love with you and will most likely leave you anyway. Sol Gordon offers creative and often humorous ways to deflate the sexual ego of the person who is pressuring for sex.
"Sex seems so natural", "It feels good", or "He (she) really turns me on" are things teen may say, if they are confident enough to be honest with you. Adolescence brings a flood of sexual feelings and an acute awareness in many teenagers of their sexual excitability. Help teens to understand that the bodily responses are normal physiologically, but that this does not mean that they have to act upon every sexual urge. We all experience urges throughout life but learn to handle or control them. Giving into a sexual urge just because it feels good is as irresponsible as yielding to an urge to strike someone, steal or cheat at rules.
House rules help teenagers. Talk with them. Arrive at some rules, which both you and they find acceptable. You must feel okay with these rules, not just your teenager. Rules provide them with extra support and reasons or excuses to use at times when they have to deal with pressure from their peers. Sex and sexuality affects us all. Sex is the source of much pressure on teens.
As Mary Calederone described teenagers and sex: Girls play at sex, looking for love. Boys play at love, looking for sex. If you share information openly with your teen, and listen openly, they have a greater chance of being able to handle their sexuality in a responsible manner.