Is Your Teenager Having Sex?

I just watched an episode of Parenthood in which the teenager revealed to her mother that she was having sex. I would like to think that the reaction of the mother was just a case of poor script writing. But then I had to question whether or not all or even any parents react this way. To sum the scene up quickly, Haddie is a senior in high school and in love with her very sweet boyfriend. When she told her mother (who already knew it was happening) her mother’s face was taken over by a look of shame, she stumbled on her words and finally said “I just have no idea what to say.” She then asked her daughter a few questions about being pressured and using protection. I wonder if the intent of the writers was to offer an example of how a mother might react. I think it was a horrible example. But I am more interested in hearing your thoughts. While I wait to hear from you I will share my opinion.

When your teenage child is in a relationship with someone they care about it is likely they will have sex. I don’t make these rules but I know that this is the reality. Whether or not they tell you… is a different story. But just because they don’t mention it doesn’t mean they aren’t doing it. My advise to parents on the subject…

  1. If you are lucky enough to have such a great relationship with your child that they share this information with you, you are off to a great start.
  2. Sex is nothing to be ashamed of. Some may have these religious beliefs and that is a different story that I can’t get into or I will lose my focus here. Sex is a wonderful thing so please try not to put a look of shame across your face. In fact, I would think a smile at the thought that your child trusts you enough is far more appropriate.
  3. The first thing to say (providing you trust that your teenager is making a good choice for a partner) is that you are so pleased that he or she is coming to talk with you about it. Whether she is considering it or having sex already let the teenager ask you their questions before you load them with yours. It is so much better to have them answered honestly by an adult.
  4. Be prepared as they may want to know when you started having sex and they also may ask more intimate questions about sex. Please try not to be embarrassed. So often kids get this message that sex is taboo. The message doesn’t stop them from having sex. It just stops them from asking you their questions.
  5. Safe sex is so important and the best way to ensure your child is having safe sex is to help them make the best decision. I remember my mother taking me to the doctor and getting me on the pill 25 years ago when I started having sex. Okay maybe it was more than 25 years but who is counting. If I couldn’t have told my mother I likely would have had unprotected sex and that is a bigger tragedy.
  6. Put it in perspective. These kids are not saying they drove drunk, got high, stole, skipped school, got in a fight or anything harmful. They are talking about enjoying and exploring something that all adults find pleasurable.
  7. I know it is hard for many to imagine that their child will ever be mistreated, dumped and broken hearted. But trying to stop them from having sex won’t fix this. Teaching them to love themselves first, before ever falling in love with someone else is the way to avoid traumatic heartbreaks. They are teenagers and will break up. If they love themself prior to the relationship they will be able to manage a break up just fine.
  8. Always model a healthy relationship for your children. I know many couples that claim they stay together for the kids. Trust me modeling a loveless or unhappy relationship is not doing your child any favors.

I understand there are many scenarios that don’t fit in with my advice. I personally know a young teen dating a 19 year old and find that upsetting. I have also known 13 and 14 year olds who have had sex for the wrong reasons. But in the end when you teach your child to love themselves first they won’t be the kids making these bad choices. They will be the young ladies like Haddie making the healthy choices.

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