So, where can kids learn about sex? They learn from school, friends, TV and other media, and most importantly their parents. The school system is limited in its approach because it has to honor all the different beliefs of all the parents. Getting information from their friends is always going to happen, but the information is very skewed, depending on a lot of variables. TV and other media glamorize it, with high-profile teens like Bristol Palin and Jamie Lynn Spears, that would lead your teen to think that sex is okay. This is not anyone’s job but the parents….So parents, it’s up to you!
, only to hide in the closet. So I preceeded to go into the room where my youngest was hiding and talk to my oldest about all of these issues, knowing my youngest could hear me. Occasionally saying, “did you get that Lindsay”, and she would just reply “Mom stop it”. What I realized in that moment was that this was not an effective approach, that if I wanted my girls to be informed about these issues, I had to be willing to put in the time to educate them. We can’t keep blaming the schools and the media for not teaching our teens about sex education; quite frankly, it’s not their job. Surveys consistently show that parent’s are the most influential in areas of sex.
I remember when my daughters were 10 and 11 years old and I was planning “the talk”, you know the one where your kids roll their eyes and your not quite sure what to say. I went to the bookstore and purchased a few books that I thought were interesting and might be good visual aids. I came home and asked both of my daughters if we could spend a little time together talking about their body changes, sex and pregnancy. My oldest daughter just starred at me and nodded yes, and my youngest screamed NO, and ran down the hall
So, as usual, this topic, just like so many, come back to communication with your teen. How well do you communicate with your teen and how open is he or she to you? The biggest issue I see is that parents are very busy and they are not spending enough quality time with their kids. So when it comes time to educate their children on important issues, their kids are not open to them, and therefore are not open to the information the parents want to give them.
“The talk” is great, but the reality is, if you’re not talking to your kids about important issues like puberty, sex and pregnancy like it’s a normal day-to-day conversation, you might get a child hiding in the closet. Also, one talk just simply does not work. If you want to influence your kids you have to be having conversations and communicating with them all the time. I talk about this a lot because it is so important. If it is a topic that isn’t discussed in the household and all of a sudden you want to bring it to the table, there is going to be some difficulty.
Studies show that teens that have an open relationship and communicate with their parents have higher self-esteem. When teens have a strong support system at home, other life issues seem less traumatic. So parents even though your teens are acting like they know everything and have got things under control, they need your support and they need to feel safe in a world that sometimes feels pretty overwhelming and scary. Use the media as your stepping stone to many conversations and to developing an open line of communication with your precious teenagers.
I would love to hear from you, with any ideas you have about communication around these topics. Happy parenting, and remember it’s fun when your involved.