Dating Smarts for Parents – Is My Teen Normal? Yes, Most Likely – How to Talk to Your Teen About What is Normal Sexual Behavior.
The number one concern of every parent is: “Is my teen normal?” The answer is probably. There is so much change going on emotionally, mentally, physically, and socially during the teen years; happy, depressed, impulsive – all of these feelings are standard for teenagers. This is a time they are developing their own morals, values, and beliefs that are separate from yours. Here’s how to talk with your teen about what’s normal.
Common sexual behaviors among teens
Common teenage sexual behaviors include: asking questions (about decision making, relationships, and sexual customs), masturbating in private, experimenting with teens of the same age (and sometimes the same sex), and spying on people for sexual stimulation (voyeurism). Nearly half of high-school students have sex. Some uncommon sexual behaviors in teens include masturbating in public and sexual interest in much younger children. Chances are your teen is normal, and it is important for your teen to understand what is considered “normal.”
Who Do You Like? Sexual Orientation and Desire
Discuss with your teen that sexual orientation is on a continuum. Some people are heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, and asexual, but most of us are somewhere in between. The people we find attractive is primarily about how we are wired – it is an instinctive, naturally occurring part of who we are and it isn’t something that can be controlled, changed, or “unlearned.” Desire ebbs and flows over a lifetime. Ensure your teen knows that sexual orientation is personal and everyone deserves respect, even if you don’t agree with them.
Your teen may be wondering “How much is too much thinking about sex?” If your teen thinks about someone to the point that it distracts them from their ability to get through their day and do the things they love, then they may have a problem. If your teen feels sad or scared when they think about sex, it might be time to seek some help. Ultimately, sex and relationships should feel great physically and emotionally.
Talk with your teen about ways to handle their feelings of sexual desire, including masturbation. For boys, too much means your teen is doing it every single chance he gets. For girls, this is a life skill. Encourage your daughter to get to know her body so she doesn’t someday think her sex partner is wholly responsible for those great sexual feelings. Humor can help smooth these discussions!
At this point your teen has probably seen some kind of pornography. It’s important they understand curiosity is normal but at its core, porn is degrading to women and objectifies them. It is much easier to deny humanness and personhood to people who are objectified, and that can lead to violence, eating disorders, and unrealistic sexual expectations. Porn also portrays sex as an emotionless experience ungrounded in reality, which can make it difficult to relate to and give and receive sexual pleasure from another person. Finally porn can be addictive.
There is a wide range of “normal” when it comes to human sexuality and your teen needs to know what the range is so they form happy, healthy relationships. If you or your teen need help, it’s available for just about every problem out there, you just need to ask for it.