For many parents, having conversations with teens about sex is uncomfortable. Yet, considering how much sexual content and images teens are exposed to on a daily basis, they need help navigating the cultural voices.
Talking about sex in a sexually-saturated society is necessary and needs to be an ongoing conversation, especially during prom season. So, I wanted to give you a few talking points:
Help teens think through sexual consequences before the prom or a date.
In talking to teens about sex, it is not only important to provide moral and religious guidance, but to emphasize the consequences and responsibilities of sexual behavior (e.g., pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections). The consequences of good choices should also be discussed as they relate to well-being and future goals.
Help teens deal with the intensity of sexual feelings, confusion over identity issues and defining appropriate sexual behavior.
Given our culture, there are confusing voices as to what sexual exploration means, how far is too far and how to handle sexual feelings. Dads should be talking with their sons about how to manage sexual feelings. Give specific ideas as to how to release pent up sexual energy through sports and other healthy outlets. And moms can help daughters be fashionable but modest, not give in to romantic talk and set standards for sexual behavior.
Create an atmosphere that is calm and non-critical.
Don’t assume sexual knowledge. Instead determine a teen’s level of knowledge and understanding. Use humor and acknowledge your own discomfort in talking about sexual issues.
Be an example of good moral behavior, living what you preach and teach. Explain what scripture teaches about sexual thought and behavior, how to overcome temptation and how to counter cultural positions that go against faith. Praise resistance and abstinence. Above all, give unconditional love and keep communication flowing.
Finally, know the risk factors to look for in your teen or young adult.
Researchers have documented those teens more at risk for early sexual intercourse and other sexual behavior. Those factors include: early use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; school problems; delinquency; physical aggression, living with a single parent or experiencing parental disruption; having sexually active peers and siblings and sexual abuse. Later onset of sexual activity is correlated with having educated parents; strong family relationships; parental supervision; sexually abstinent peers, good grades in school; and frequent church attendance.