HELP FOR PARENTS WITH STRONG-WILLED, OUT-OF-CONTROL CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

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Talking To Your Adolescent About S e x

Sex education is offered in many schools, but don't count on classroom instruction alone. Sex education needs to happen at home, too. Sex is a staple of news, entertainment and advertising. It's often hard to avoid this ever-present topic. But when moms and dads and adolescents need to talk, it's not always so easy. If you wait for the perfect moment, you might miss the best opportunities. Instead, think of sex education as an ongoing conversation.

Here are some ideas to help you get started — and keep the discussion going:
  • Be direct. Clearly state your feelings about specific issues (e.g., oral sex, intercourse). Present the risks objectively, including emotional pain, sexually transmitted infections, and unplanned pregnancy. Explain that oral sex isn't a risk-free alternative to intercourse.
  • Be honest. If you're uncomfortable, say so — but explain that it's important to keep talking. If you don't know how to answer your adolescent's questions, offer to find the answers or look them up together.
  • Consider your adolescent's point of view. Don't lecture your adolescent or rely on scare tactics to discourage sexual activity. Instead, listen carefully. Understand your adolescent's pressures, challenges and concerns.
  • Invite more discussion. Let your adolescent know that it's OK to talk with you about sex whenever he or she has questions or concerns. Reward questions by saying, "I'm glad you came to me." 
  • Move beyond the facts. Your adolescent needs accurate information about sex — but it's just as important to talk about feelings, attitudes and values. Examine questions of ethics and responsibility in the context of your personal or religious beliefs.
  • Seize the moment. When a TV program or music video raises issues about responsible sexual behavior, use it as a springboard for discussion. Remember that everyday moments (e.g., riding in the car, putting away groceries, etc.) sometime offer the best opportunities to talk.

Sex education for adolescents includes abstinence, date rape, homosexuality and other tough topics.  

Be prepared for questions like these:  
  • What if my boyfriend or girlfriend wants to have sex, but I don't? Explain that no one should have sex out of a sense of obligation or fear. Any form of forced sex is rape, whether the perpetrator is a stranger or someone your adolescent has been dating. Impress upon your adolescent that “no” always means “no.” Emphasize that alcohol and drugs impair judgment and reduce inhibitions, leading to situations in which date rape is more likely to occur.
  • What if I think I'm gay? Many adolescents wonder at some point whether they're gay or bisexual. Help your adolescent understand that he or she is just beginning to explore sexual attraction. These feelings may change as time goes on. Above all, however, let your adolescent know that you love him or her unconditionally. Praise your adolescent for sharing his or her feelings.
  • How will I know I'm ready for sex? Various factors (e.g., peer pressure, curiosity, loneliness, etc.) steer some teens into early sexual activity. But there's no rush. Remind your adolescent that it's OK to wait. Sex is an adult behavior. In the meantime, there are many other ways to express affection (e.g., intimate talks, long walks, holding hands, listening to music, dancing, kissing, touching and hugging, etc.).

If your adolescent becomes sexually active — whether you think he or she is ready or not — it may be more important than ever to keep the conversation going. State your feelings openly and honestly. Remind your adolescent that you expect him or her to take sex - and the associated responsibilities - seriously.

Stress the importance of safe sex, and make sure your adolescent understands how to get and use contraception. You might talk about keeping a sexual relationship exclusive, not only as a matter of trust and respect, but also to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections. Also, set and enforce reasonable boundaries (e.g., curfews, rules about visits from friends of the opposite sex, etc.).

Your adolescent's doctor can help, too. A routine checkup can give your adolescent the opportunity to address sexual activity and other behaviors in a supportive, confidential atmosphere — as well as learn about contraception and safe sex. For girls, the doctor may also stress the importance of routine human papillomavirus vaccination (HPV) to help prevent genital warts and cervical cancer.

With your support, your adolescent can emerge into a sexually responsible grown-up. Be honest and speak from the heart. If your adolescent doesn't seem interested in what you have to say about sex, say it anyway! He or she is probably listening.

Sex education basics may be covered in health class, but your adolescent might not hear — or understand — everything he or she needs to know to make tough choices about sex. That's where you as the parent come in. Awkward as it may be, sex education is a parent's responsibility. By reinforcing and supplementing what your adolescent learns in school, you can set the stage for a lifetime of healthy sexuality.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

1 comment:

zile said...

As he has gotten older, my 13 yr old son has exhibited obsessive or addicted type of behaviors. I have taken away electronic devices to eliminate that & the resultant aggressive behaviors that followed. But now he has started masturbating, and it is happening in not so private areas and I am concerned about public indecency. I can't take that away! What do I do now?

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