With teens about to enter high school for the first time, the discussion with my San Antonio panel turned to sex education and peer pressure; not to mention the onset of awakening teenage hormones. The parents on my panel were asked what advice they would give to their kids about sex as they transition into higher levels of sexual awareness. These are their answers in honest, candid form.
Joe – “Wrap it up! Both boys and girls should be properly educated on how to put on a condom.”
Joe advocates education on prevention. As a man, he knows that teenage boys can’t help but think about sex, and given the opportunity, even knowing their parents would disapprove, would most likely go for it. He’d rather see his son protected from diseases, and protecting himself and the girlfriend from unwanted pregnancy. His motto? “Knowing is half the battle!”
It might also be prudent to explain to teenage sons that just because they get an erection, doesn’t mean they need to stick it somewhere. Heck, even explaining the finer points of masturbation can help prevent STDs and unplanned pregnancies. Some parents might disagree, but sexuality is a natural part of being human. A person can’t dial back puberty to appease a parents’ stance on abstinence only. Offering an alternative that would allow a teen to wait on having intercourse, mature, and remain safe is a better plan. It’s nice to have plan A, but having a backup is just smart.
Kat – “I told my daughter, if she felt sex was going to come up, to use condoms and birth control. Gave her the info on that. I also told her, I would take her (to get on birth control), if she liked. That if she wanted to discuss sex with me, I promised not to get all emotional about it. I kept my promise. It worked out. She was nice and settled down with a mate for awhile before having 3 kids by decision, about 4 years apart each, and they are still together.”
Kat adds that communicating early with kids about sex is important. “When they were little, I told mine the truth to the degree their level of maturity could handle it.” Now, she doesn’t say to explain all the mechanics of sex to children, but when they are small is the time to open a dialogue where kids feel comfortable and secure in discussing any and all subjects with their parents. Shutting kids down when they ask questions on socially taboo subjects teaches them that they can’t bring these things up and they begin to avoid talking to their parents for fear of upsetting or angering them. When that happens, they either act on ignorance or get their information from the wrong places.
Most of the parents thought sex education should include some kind of tasteful demonstration on the application of a condom. After all, if it’s not put on correctly, it can break, so what’s the point? Using a banana or a cucumber as a prop while showing how to properly pinch the reservoir before rolling it down can save a teen a world of problems they don’t anticipate when their hormones run wild.
This also leads to the necessity for parents to talk about the emotional side of sex as well as the direct consequences of the act. Teens don’t understand that sex changes everything, and sometimes, not always for the best. The higher a level of maturity a person has when they first experience sexual intercourse, the better they will handle the ‘after’ effects.
Dads should explain to their teenage sons that when they’re sitting in class, they might get an erection. It’s perfectly normal as this is the time when their testosterone levels soar. But what these young men really need to know is how to handle it, and what tips dad can offer to make it go away before the teacher calls them to chalkboard to solve an equation! Dads should also explain that birth control measures are every bit the responsibility of young men as they are for young women. Why? Because sex is a responsibility. Yet another thing teens never understand on their own unless it’s explained, time and again. (A single dad explains sex to a pre-teen daughter) Much like driving a car for the first time, parents should say “yes, driving (sex) is fun, but what will you do if you wreck it (get pregnant/catch a disease)? How will you pay for the damage?” Teens do not have the ability to see ahead to consequences of their actions. Literally! This is due to the frontal lobe of the brain (the area responsible for being able to deduce the consequences to ones actions) not being fully developed until a person is 20 years of age.
“The frontal lobes are the ‘seat of the self’, as they are instrumental in reasoning, social maturity/impulse control and delay of gratification….Maturation of the frontal lobes isn’t complete until around the age of twenty so weary parents can console themselves with the thought that the uncontrolled behaviour of their offspring is (at least in part) really just a stage they are going through.” (Uncommon Knowledge)
Moms should open a dialogue with their daughters about the different expectations boys have in a relationship compared to girls. Again, boys are thinking about sex, often. Young women should know and understand that they do not need to feel pressured into having sex before they’re ready. Sex doesn’t ‘prove’ ones love, so they don’t have to fall for the line “If you love me, you’ll do it.” (Talking to your kids about sex – WebMD)
High school is a whole new chapter in the lives of teenagers. Helping them navigate all the confusion that their bodies are going through depends on good communication between parents, teens, and instructors. It takes a village, right?
So when you’re buying school supplies, and new school clothes, don’t forget to sit your teen down for a good talk about sex and sexuality. Parents can’t afford to bury their heads in the sand. The stakes are too high.
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In addition to this local column, and her work as a Freelance Journalist in San Antonio, Michele Gwynn is also the National Animal Rights Examiner. Her love of pets began at an early age with a stray cat named Harvey, and a dying field mouse named Tucker. She is a pet parent to four cats, and an animal rights champion to all critters, large and small. Visit her animal rights column here.
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