Caroline Miller. Talking to teenagers about sex has to be the most potentially embarrassing challenge of parenting — for both parents and kids. As a result, there is very little conversation about it in many families, even though teenagers are sexually active at younger and younger ages. In workshops that focus on social-emotional wellness and decision-making, therapists with the Freedom Institute meet with many high school students to discuss issues that include substance use and sexual activity. Girls express the concern that if they decline sexual activity, or say they want to stop before a sexual encounter goes any further, it would be rude.
Sex and teenagers
U.S. teens are having less sex — but stigmatizing their sexuality does more harm than good
The number is I am consistently surprised by the ways older teenage and young adult students report having had their sexuality stigmatized and devalued. As a researcher who specializes in teenage sexuality and culture in comparative perspective, I was struck by framing: The Youth Risk Behavior Survey frames adolescent sexuality as a risk behavior, rather than a normal and developmentally appropriate exploration. The CDC website describes the survey as an effort to understand the "leading causes of illness, death, and disability" among youths. This framing itself is damaging to adolescents and deprives them of the guidance they need from trusted adults at home, at school or in the doctor's office. Indeed, as I start the semester — remotely via TV screen and small Zoom boxes — I am consistently surprised by the ways older teenage and young adult students report having had their sexuality, including their romantic relationships, stigmatized and devalued. I believe their development as young adults is being hindered by the framing of sexuality as a "health risk.
Talking with Your Teens about Sex: Going Beyond “the Talk”
Feelings and emotions on this subject can be really powerful. So, what do you need to think about? A lot of things. There are personal and value-based decisions you need to consider.
Teens and sex can be a risky combination. Find out how to talk to your teen about abstinence and contraception. Few parents want to face the idea that their teens are having sex — but research shows that many teens are sexually active by high school, potentially putting themselves at risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections STIs. When it comes to teens and sex, the key is discussing the importance of contraception before sexual activity begins. Talk about safe sex with your teen even if he or she identifies as gay.