Teen Advisor Teen Advisor
  Home About Us Contact Us

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 another.

* Immature love is based on fantasies and neediness, taking over one's life and making one unable to function in other areas.

* 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 wait.

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 advice:

* 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 protect themselves.

* 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 to behave.

* 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.

Related Links
General Tips
Parenting Tips
Disciplining Your Teen
Rules & Limits
Teen Behavior
Sex & Knowledge
Talking About Birth Control
Talking About HIV & AIDS
Talking About Self-Image
Talking About Puberty
Pre-Teens & Body Image
Early Development in Girls
Teaching Self-Esteem
Boy-Crazy Girls
Sexuality and Pre-teens
Drinking & Drugs & Pre-teens
Issues & Dealing
Problematic Teens