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Teen Sexuality

by Lori Sciame | November 9th, 2011 | Teens

This is the article I’ve been dreading to write…the one that concerns teen sexuality. Why? Because we all know the issue of teens having sex is a “hot button” issue. Parents across the United States have vastly different views on how to approach this sensitive issue with their children, including everything from abstinence only education to avoiding the subject all together.

But I chose to write this post anyways, as I do know one thing for certain – parents want what is best for their teenager, and their picture of health and happiness does not include sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) and unwanted pregnancy.

As the parent of three children, I know the importance of encouraging teens to wait as long as possible before engaging in any form of sexual behavior. We all know that sexual activity leads to both emotional and physical consequences. And as a health educator (for 20 years), I also realize the negative health effects of beginning to engage in sexual intercourse too early.

So, what is a parent of a teenager to do when it comes to this tricky subject? I will share what has worked for me.

First, open communication reigns supreme. From the time my three children were little, they have felt safe when discussing any subject with me. Did this take willpower and strength on my part? Yes! Yet the benefits of open communication have paid off in the long run. My kids tell me everything that goes on in their lives, everything from first crushes to first kisses. Basically, if your child feels safe telling you details, then he or she will come to you with questions about sex. This provides the perfect opportunity to discuss sensitive subjects in an open and honest fashion.

Next, share stories of your own teen years. No, you don’t have to tell your child all about your first sexual experience, but you do have to share the emotional roller coaster you went through as a teen. Think back…remember how hard it was to “fit in?” When you let your teen know that you wrestled with this complicated issue as well, you seem more relateable.

Another step to take is providing education on the topic of sex for your child. I know that this area is a touchy one for many parents. Some argue that if you give your child too much information, then you are encouraging him or her to do the very act you are discussing. After being in the health field for two decades, I know firsthand that this is not the case. When you educate a child, you are giving him or her the necessary tools to evaluate a situation in an effective manner. If your teen knows the consequences of sexual activity, they will be less likely to engage in such behavior.

A final way to prevent teen STI’s and pregnancy concerns behavior of your child’s friends. If you see their friends engaging in risky behavior…speak up! Let your child know you do not approve of this kind of activity!

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