Growing, Not Dying

Welcome to my insights, ponderings, and experiences. Hopefully they will enrich you in some small way, or at least make you laugh.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Teaching Teens and Youth About Sex

After an e-mail on my post about Sex Toys in Wal-Mart, I decided to revisit the topic along a different vein. Keep in mind, these are only my opinions.

"Relationships," like money, isn't taught in school. It's learned at home where, unfortunately, the models are often not ideal. What we usually learn is simply not to talk about it. At best we might learn the basic mechanics of it. After that it's what society tells us, that it should be all passionate, exciting, senual, safe, and the main focus of a relationship. And if you aren't "doing it" something is wrong with you.

There are those who want to teach their kids, but they don't know what to say. How much do I say? What do they already know? Isn't it going to be akward?

In our church we attempt to teach our youth abstance. However, it is obviously still an uncomfortable topic for many of the adults. They still use terms like "petting" and "necking." I didn't understand those when I was younger. Today's youth just find them silly. I had the opportunity to teach 16 yr olds once. The kids gasped and giggled nerouvsly when I used the word "sex." Why dance around it? Frank honesty shows more respect for the subject than cute pet names. Besides, they are certainly old enough to be talked to plainly about it. You can be plain and respectful at the same time. There is no reason to be crude or vulgar, but vagueness just leaves confussion and that doesn't help anyone.

So, if you are going to talk about it the best way to start is by laying it out. "I'd like to talk to you about sex." Don't be put off by the reactions you get. (Rolling eyes, sacrcasm, embarrassment, or other put-offs simply mean they heard you.) Forge ahead. If nothing else you are opening the door to a dialouge and showing you care. If you are unsure what they might know, ask. Truely it's that simple. I would not suggest opening with, "Do you have any questions?" They probably wouldn't know what to ask or would feel too weird asking.

So start at the begining. Take into account the child's age and comprehenssion level. Younger children (5-8) often start with questions about where babies come from. (My oldest (7) started with a question about how babies come out, if it was out of the same place animals lay eggs.) Older children (10-12) are benefitted by being enlightened to what is happening/will happen to their bodies as puberty begins. Then you can go into the things leading up to sex and your moral beleifs about them: kissing, making-out, ect.

Then sex: Not only is there the mechanics of how intercourse is done, but your beliefs about when is it ok. What about oral sex? Is that appropriate? Reassure them there is NEVER a time you "owe" someone sexual favors, nor are you ever "entitled" to it. Their body is always their own. No one will like you more or longer if you do allow them access to any part of your body or sexually exciting actions. If that's what is keeping them around, they are just using you and you will regret it later.

In your own relationships practice getting comfortable discussing sex with your partner. If you can't even talk to the person you are having sex with, it will be considerably more uncomfortable talking to youth about it.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's even harder discussing things in a society where infidelity is celebrated and glamorized (see Desperate Housewives), deviant sexual behavior is admired, and logging on to the computer might mean being bombarded with images that portray sex as a purely animal, selfish thing. "Alternative lifestyles" (not homosexuality specifically, but think of premarital sex, "shacking up", open marriages, swinging, etc.) are not only accepted but encouraged in some venues.

There has to be a way of somehow teaching children to respect and honor their bodies. To understand that sex isn't just about gratification. To help them see the importance of the relationship and commitment that must come before sex.

That's a really hard thing to do, when messages contrary to that are easier to find than those supporting it.

Wed Oct 19, 04:11:00 PM MDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's even harder discussing things in a society where infidelity is celebrated and glamorized (see Desperate Housewives), deviant sexual behavior is admired, and logging on to the computer might mean being bombarded with images that portray sex as a purely animal, selfish thing. "Alternative lifestyles" (not homosexuality specifically, but think of premarital sex, "shacking up", open marriages, swinging, etc.) are not only accepted but encouraged in some venues.

There has to be a way of somehow teaching children to respect and honor their bodies. To understand that sex isn't just about gratification. To help them see the importance of the relationship and commitment that must come before sex.

That's a really hard thing to do, when messages contrary to that are easier to find than those supporting it.

Wed Oct 19, 04:14:00 PM MDT  

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