Friday, March 4, 2011

Teenage Awareness on Sex

It is critical for loving and responsible parents to address the issue of their teenager's awareness and knowledge of sex.

It is safe to say that most teenagers may be reluctant to talk about something as personal as the subject of sex with a parent, especially if they are not accustomed to sharing their feelings on intimate topics. The parent may even feel embarrassed to bring up the subject.  But before beginning such a discussion, it would be wise for the parent to decide what they are comfortable sharing about their personal experiences and beliefs on teen sexuality. 

A simply way to start the conversation is to ask the teen what type of questions do they have or what do they want to know more about regarding sex - this  will generally grab their attention.  The objective is to get the teen talking or at least willing to talk.   If the teen claims they know everything they need to know.  The next step for a parent is to ask a question like, "Are you aware that sex is not the same thing as love?" and follow up with , "Sex is a physical act while love is emotional."

It is important for the parent to listen and pay attention to what the teen has to say, as well as the words he/she doesn't say.  Paying attention to their body language is also important and whether they are at ease or trying to hide their discomfort.   If they're uncomfortable, it would be best for the parent to let them know that they've noticed and ask if they want to talk about what may be bothering them. They parent should also reassure them that they are not there to judge him or her.

It is also important that the parent let the teen know that the reason they are trying to have a discussion on the subject is because they love them no matter what they may have done or are thinking of doing, and they should feel comfortable talking with them.  If the teen chooses to be silent, allow him/her to be silent. Sometimes silence is a way for people to process information - teens are no different, and they need time and space to process.  Parents just need to assure them that they will be available whenever they want to talk.

It is not a good idea for teens to rely on answers on the subject of sex, from their friends, the streets, or the media.  Parents should build trust with their teenager, so If he/she has unanswered questions, they will feel comfortable in going to their parents for accurate information. 

Parents should let their teenager know that protection is not a 100% guarantee against pregnancy, but still offer advice on obtaining protection.

More importantly, parents should let their teenager know that, according to statics and other documentation, "STDs and unwanted pregnancies are not the only thing to worry about from sex. There are other conditions and diseases that get transmitted from sexual contact, such as crabs. One increasingly common disease to worry about is molluscum contagiosum. It is a virus that infects the skin and causes large lesions that can last for two years or more. If someone has been diagnosed with molluscum contagiosum on/in their genitals or pubic area, they should know that there are different treatment options available.
The first step in protection is education. Condoms (outer surface barrier methods) are the only effective contraception in STD prevention. Both the male and female condoms are effective but do not offer 100% protection from transmission. In fact, only abstinence can provide protection from STDs, and many STDs can be passed in non-sexual ways, either with body-to-body contact or surface-to-body contact."

Having an educational discussion on the subject of sex, does not advocate teen sex. However, statistics show that teens as young as 13 are engaging in sexual activity. It is in both the teen's and parent's best interest to have the talk.  When hormones and peer pressure kick in, a wise and educated youngster, who has previously given thought to and made decisions about his actions, has a better chance of living the life he wants than one who has not prepared himself for the inevitable emotions and situations that will come up in life.