Teenage pregnancies abound these days, what with a freer and more casual attitude toward the “sanctity” of sex. You may not stop your teen from engaging in pre-marital sex, but you can educate him or her about safe, smart sex.
Here are some things to keep in mind when giving your teen the Talk.
BE STRAIGHTFORWARD AND FRANK, BUT NOT CRUDE.
Relax! It may be embarrassing to talk about it, but your kid may not take you seriously if you fumble about as you utter “sex.” It’s best to be direct and matter-of-fact while discussing it. And, as this article from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation's website advises, if you're feeling awkward about discussing sex with your teen, be frank about that as well, and try to keep your sense of humor.
DON'T BE PLASTIC.
Most parents and adults might assume an air of self-righteousness when it comes to sex. But if you really want to connect with your teen, shed your hypocrisy. “My nephew really listened when I said simply that sex is a part of life, and that having ‘lustful’ feelings is normal and happens to everybody,” says Amy, a 33-year-old travel agent. Even if you're not sure what approach to use, this Suite101.com article lists three basic tools for discussing this admittedly difficult subject with your teen: validation (assure him or her that it is natural, just like Atmy did), exploration (make them feel like they're being listened to, and give them guided freedom in exercising their curiosity), and acceptance.
DRILL IN THE IMPORTANCE OF SAFE SEX.
Be up front about the consequences of unsafe sex. “I always drive home the consequences of unwanted, unexpected pregnancies,” says Trina, a teacher who is mom to two teens. “It’s not that I want them to not enjoy sex, but it’s just more important that they know what will happen if they don’t use protection.”
If you have enough nerve, it would be good to tell your teen about your own first time. “It makes you more relatable, and your teen will understand that you actually have experienced it too,” says Amy. She told her nephew about her foibles during her first time, and how she wished she could have done it differently. Apart from recounting your own experiences, share your personal values with your teen, and accept that he or she may adopt values that are different from yours.
USE REAL-LIFE EXAMPLES.
Trina relates that she cited real-life experiences when giving her kids the Talk. “I have friends who got pregnant before they got married, and although they’re happy with their kids now, it was still a big shock and they had to make a lot of huge adjustments,” she says. Doing this helped her reinforce the seriousness of pre-marital sex to her kids. “Kids won’t really ‘get’ it until you spell it out using concrete examples.” Another alternative is using examples they can identify with, perhaps from TV shows or movies they've watched, from celebrities whose lives they follow, and so on.
LET YOUR TEEN KNOW HE/SHE CAN TALK TO YOU ABOUT ANYTHING.
It’s important to communicate to your teen that he or she can talk to you about sex any time. “Most kids are afraid to broach the subject, because they think you’ll just scold them,” says Trina. You may not be chummy-chummy with your kids like their barkada, but you shouldn’t also come across as a prison warden toward them. “The more scared they are of you, the more they’ll clam up,” adds Trina. Establishing an open line of communication between you and your teen can mean the difference between having him or her come to you with questions or make mistakes that might bring regret later because he or she didn’t feel comfortable enough to ask you about safe sex.
For more details on how you can educate your teen about sex, the right way, you may want to check out the Center for Family Ministries’ (CeFaM) PEP-Teens, a workshop on Positive Empowered Parenting (PEP). For more information, contact Pilar U. Tolentino, the executive director for CeFAM, at their office in the Loyola Schools campus of Ateneo de Manila University. Contact numbers are 426-4289 to 92, and you can also send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Photo source: sxc.hu)
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