Being sexual is part of who we are as human beings—we are emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual, and sexual from the moment of birth. It drives our relationships, and creates our families. It may be hard to think of your teen as sexual. Remember when you were a teen? Your teen has probably felt the rising surge of sexual desire. Sex feels good and it’s supposed to, because our main biological drive is to reproduce. Most studies show that about half of teenagers have had sex. That’s why it’s important to get this discussion going, no matter their age.
Sexual Activity – Define it and talk about being ready for engaging in sexual activity
We can all relate to those wonderful and awkward moments. Sex in particular can be very complicated and confusing. Teens are being flooded with sexuality via media and may feel they are expected to act like they completely “get it” and are ready for anything. As adults, we have a responsibility to help teens learn to navigate through the first part of their lives, including their sexual lives, in a healthy way. Talk with your teen about what sex is, why we have sex, and how to know if they’re ready for sex so they feel comfortable and make good decisions. After all, which tab fits into which slot is the easy part – it’s the relationship your teen creates that defines how your teen’s heart will feel.
Relationships Are the Container for Sexual Activity
Discuss with your teen about how sexual activity with someone automatically goes along with having a relationship with that person. One way to explain to your teen how sex is tied in with emotion is to think of the relationship as the “container” for sex. At its core, sexuality is something that is private, and constantly getting messages about what “should” be important makes it confusing to try to figure out what truly matters to your teen in a relationship. Your teen can take care of their sexuality (and their values) by creating a strong, loving, and trusting “container” to hold the memories that will last a lifetime, including memories of the first time they have sex. Talk about the difference between being in love (feeling in love) versus being emotionally ready to have sex. As adults we know, and teens need to know; you need to be physically mature, emotionally mature, and ready to handle the consequences of your actions, including talking to your partner, and confidently getting and using birth control and condoms.
Encourage your teen to think about their values
No matter what, it’s important for your teen to give these ideas some thought so they can be really clear about who they are and what their values are as they become a healthy person and a great partner to someone—whether now or in the future. The more information they have about themselves, about being safe, about healthy relationships, and about everything that can go along with dating—their sexual values— the happier they will be with their choices.
This awesomeness is the parent version of the same chapter in my book for teens, Dating Smarts. You should buy it for yourself. And your kids. Get it here.