Talking About Sex & Relationships
Talking With Your Teen About Love: When Is It Real?
It is common for parents to dismiss
teen love as not real. However, parents should realize that feelings
are real. Some teens may be experiencing feelings infatuation,
that are immature, however, some may be feeling a more mature
love. People of all ages can feel any of the above, and teens
especially need to know the difference.
* Infatuation means being in love with love,
when being in love is more important than loving and giving to
* Immature love is based on fantasies and neediness,
taking over one's life and making one unable to function in other
* Mature love is energizing, giving one vitality
in all areas of life. It is accepting, seeing another person as
he or she really is and loving them anyway. Mature love is strong
and can survive pain as well as triumph. It is enhanced by time
and means individual growth, as well as growth as a couple. It
means above all the two people are best friends that they like
as well as love each other.
Teens need to know that a mature
love takes time to grow, that trust and love evolve, that mature
love isn't love at first sight, but well worth the work and the
Talking With Kids About Sex and Relationships
Most parents want to do their best
in talking with their kids about sex
and sexuality, but are often not sure how to begin. Here's some
* Explore your own attitudes: Studies show that
kids who feel they can talk with their parents about sex -- because
their moms and dads speak openly and listen carefully to them
-- are less likely to engage in high-risk behavior as teens than
kids who do not feel they can talk with their parents about the
subject. So explore your feelings about sex. If you are very uncomfortable
with the subject, read some books. The more you examine the subject,
the more confident you'll feel discussing it. Even if you can't
quite overcome your discomfort, don't worry about admitting it
to your kids. It's okay to say something like, "You know,
I'm uncomfortable talking about sex because my parents never talked
with me about it. But I want us to be able to talk about anything
-- including sex -- so please come to me if you have any questions.
And if I don't know the answer, I'll find out.
* Take the initiative: If your teen hasn't
started asking questions about sex, look for a good opportunity
to bring it up.
* Talk about more than the "Birds and the Bees":
While our teens need to know the biological facts
about sex, they also need to understand that sexual relationships
involve caring, concern and responsibility. By discussing the
emotional aspect of a sexual relationship with your teen, they
will be better informed to make decisions later on and to resist
peer pressure. If your child is a pre-teen, you need to include
some message about the responsibilities and consequences of sexual
activity. Conversations with 11 and 12-year-olds, for example,
should include talks about unwanted pregnancy and how they can
* Talk about Dating: One aspect that many parents
overlook when discussing sex with their child is dating.
They need to know that people who are interested in each other
need to take time to get to know each other -- time to hold hands,
go bowling, see a movie, or just talk. Teens need to know that
this is an important part of a caring relationship.
* Anticipate the next stage of development:
Pre-teens and teens can get frightened and confused by the sudden
changes their bodies begin to go through as they finish puberty.
To help stop any anxiety, talk with your teens not only about
their current stage of development but about the next stage, too.
* Communicate your values: It's our responsibility
to let our teens know our values about sex. Although they may
not adopt these values as they mature, at least they'll be aware
of them as they struggle to figure out how they feel and want
* Talk with your teen of the opposite sex:
Some parents feel uncomfortable talking with their teens about
topics like sex if the teenager is of the opposite gender. While
that's certainly understandable, don't let it become an excuse
to close off conversation. If you're a single mother of a son,
for example, you can turn to books to help guide you or ask your
doctor for some advice on how to bring up the topic with your
child. You could also recruit an uncle or other close male friend
or relative to discuss the subject with your child, provided there
is already good, open communication between them. If there are
two parents in the household, it might feel less awkward to have
the dad talk with the boy and the mom with the girl. That's not
a hard and fast rule, though. If you're comfortable talking with
either sons or daughters, go right ahead. Just make sure that
gender differences don't make subjects like sex taboo.
* Relax: Don't worry about knowing all the
answers to your teen's questions; what you know is a lot less
important than how you respond. If you can convey the message
that no subject, including sex, is forbidden in your home, you'll
be doing just fine.
Disciplining Your Teen
Rules & Limits
Sex & Knowledge
Talking About Birth
Talking About HIV &
Talking About Self-Image
Talking About Puberty
Drugs & Pre-teens