Dealing with teen sexuality can be tough for both parents and teens. If you have a teenager at home, you know the many issues you face. It can be hard to talk to them and they are busy learning how to be adults. What is important to realize, is sexuality is a very normal development stage of adolescence and needs to be addressed. Studies have shown that 7 out of 10 teenagers have had sexual intercourse by the age of 19. There are over 2,000 teen pregnancies diagnosed in the United States every single day. There is also a very high rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among teens. This is why it is very important to learn good ways to approach the different aspects of teen sexuality and offer good advice to help them make the best decisions for themselves. Read on to learn more about dealing with teen sexuality.
Dealing with Teen Sexuality: Know the Basics
Before we get started about talking to your teens about sex, there are a few important basics to understand. Sexuality in teens is a normal developmental stage in their bodies and their minds. It is important to understand what is going on both physically and emotionally, in order to prevent making them feel ashamed or judged.
Your teen’s sexual development involves many things, including sexual desire, reproductive organ development, and the ability to reproduce as soon as the onset of menstruation. Boys also experience the ability to reproduce about the same time as girls. Teens may express sexual feelings by having sexual intercourse or masturbation. Having an open conversation can help your teen understand these feelings are normal, but help to prevent teen pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted diseases.
In sexual development during puberty (see puberty in girls here and puberty in boys here), the reproductive organs begin to mature but there are regions in the brain that are not fully mature and need time to catch up. Sexual desire may overcome the ability to make mature decisions about whether sex is safe. Imaging studies show brains do not reach full maturity until the late teen years, even if the reproductive organs are fully ready. For this reason, you will need to educate your child on holding off on sexual intercourse or protecting themselves during sex. Which of those you approach is entirely up to you as a parent.
Talking to Your Teens About Sexuality
Once you have a good understanding yourself about what is going on with your teenager’s body, you will need to find a good way to approach the subject, especially when it comes to how to deal with sexually active teens. First, remember you were a teenager once yourself. Second, be a parent and a friend at the same time to help them feel comfortable. Here are some helpful tips on talking about sex with your teen:
- You are your teen’s biggest influence. Believe it or not, most adults state that their decisions as teenagers were influenced by conversations they either had or didn’t have with their parents. People who had sex earlier in their teen years stated they didn’t talk much about with their parents and vice-versa. Adults who did talk with their parents tended to wait for sex or used protection during sex more often.
- Find a good time. To help ease any discomfort, you might find the right moment is staring you in the face. You may be watching a TV show that has some sex scenes and mention they didn’t seem too responsible not using a condom. Or, when walking down the condom aisle at the store you casually mention something about them. Make it funny, they still get the point. You may be out and about with your teen daughter and see toddlers misbehaving in the store. Point out how that comes to be and make it very real so she will understand what unprotected sex leads to. Sometimes the best time to talk about things like this is by pointing out the “real life” things that teen sexuality involves. Teens usually don’t listen to lecturing from their parents. Fact of life!
- Be a good listener. Take the time to listen to your teen’s feelings. One good way to open communication is to ask them questions about how they feel about this and listen to them. Ask them about their relationships with a boyfriend/girlfriend and let them talk to you and ask questions. Use this as a chance to slip in any advice that may be needed. But first try to understand where they are coming from.
- Address peer pressure. Your teenager may be wanting to have sex because everyone else is or because a partner is pressuring them into sex. This is something really important to address and let them know how to stand their ground. It is also very important to address the common use of “date rape drugs” at parties that may make them unable to say no to sex.
- They may already be sexually active. Many parents find that it is already too late to talk to teens about sex, before they actually have sex. It is never too late to talk to your teens about sex. Dealing with teen sexuality is an ongoing thing. Try to talk to them before, but if you find they have already had sex talk to them anyway. Stress the importance of using protection and birth control.
- Address the feelings that go with sex. Let your teen know that along with the physical feelings of sex, there is an emotional attachment as well. Even though their body may feel ready for the physical part, they may not be emotionally ready.
- Discuss the consequences of teen pregnancy. Most of all teens need to understand the large responsibility that goes along with raising a child. As adults, raising children is a very hard task. For teenagers, this means juggling school, work, childcare, and giving up being a teenager very early.
Here are more tips for how to deal with sexually active teen:
Parenting tips: talking about sex, helping your sexually active teen be safe