Saturday, April 23, 2005

Urgent: Talk to Your Teen About Sex

**Warning: some sexually explicit material below.**
Teens and sex. The statistics are staggering and parents need to know.

Teens are encouraged to be sexually active by our society. Media influences, peer influences and our public schools all seem to promote a "if it feels good, do it" mentality for our teens. Unfortunately, teens, with their "It can't happen to me" attitude, found often at this developmental stage, are very vulnerable to such permissive messages. Even worse, many teenagers do not have anyone in their home refuting these messages with healthier choices.

As a psychiatrist, I started noticing more teens who were sporting emblems of pledges of abstinence. When asked about these, the teens I was working with universally expressed their relief at being able to be celibate. That's right- just like this author who sat in on an abstinence class, I found that teens just plain did not know or had never stopped to think that abstinence was even possible. Especially the young women who had started sexual activity early, sometimes as young as 11 or 12-years old, were so relieved to know that they did not have to continue to be sexually active. Their parents never told them! Sadly, some had learned early on about the emotional and health dangers of sexual activity. I am sorry about the price that some of them had to pay.

From the horrors of having an abortion that they felt they could share with almost no one, a heavy shame that they may bear for the rest of their lives, to diseases such as herpes and AIDS that have no cure, the price of sexual activity for teens can be very high indeed.

Parents need to familiarize themselves with the research to pass it on to their children. Each year 3 million teens contract sexually transmitted diseases. These diseases can be spread through oral sex, contrary to what most teens seem to think. Gonorrhea of the throat is very unpleasant indeed. Especially Christian teens are using oral sex as what they see as a better moral alternative to intercourse. STDs also contribute to infertility and cervical cancer, facts often ignored by the MSM.

Just giving teens the advice to use birth control is not good enough. Pregnancy is one of the least troubling consequences of teen sex! We can not forget that one of the STDs teens are exposed to has no cure and leads to death. A local suburban high school in my city has one of the highest AIDS rates in our state. Scary.

And the sex-ed folks have consistently avoided discussing the emotional aspects of sexuality. (Emotions related to sex-what a novel thought!) Teens who have been sexually active are 3 times more likely to become depressed. I can tell you from my experience as a psychiatrist that 9 times out of 10, a teen who tried to commit suicide did so because of some drama related to the opposite sex, usually someone they had been sexually active with previously.

Studies have shown that American parents overwhelmingly want their children to learn about abstinence and to remain celibate through the teen years. But often parent's desires for their children and what they actually do as parents to help secure the desired outcome do not match. It may not be easy, but parents need to talk frankly with their teens about the serious risks of sex and what the options are.

With all this data who could be against teaching abstinence for teens? From what I can tell only the mainstream media (MSM) and groups with a vested interest in the continuing sexual activity of teens (such as Planned Parenthood which provides abortions and birth control to teens.) Read more about the war against abstinence here.

As usual, certain very vocal minorities are influencing what teens across the country are learning despite the wishes of most American families.

But all parents, especially Christian parents who feel very strongly that premarital sex is wrong not only for the reasons listed above but because it is against God's commandments for our personal purity, need to talk with teens about sex. Even if your children are not in school, they probably socialize with other children who may or may not share your values about sexuality.

What is the best way to talk to teens about sex?
Here are some tips from teens:
--lay out the facts. They want to know that you know what you are talking about.
--be very explicit about your expectations. Not just "Honey, you should think about delaying sex" but "I would like to see you stay celibate until marriage, even if that means that you marry early."
--Do not talk about your own experiences as a teen. This one surprised me. Teens want to be treated as individuals and they want you to address the issues current in their lives.
--Encourage them to seek out like-minded friends and groups
--Emphasize that sexuality talk will be an ongoing dialogue. As you find interesting articles, discuss them. Encourage your teen to do the same.
--Let your teen start a blog about their opinions on sexuality and other important issues. They may find others with similar values. Start by checking out Spunky Jr's blog here.

For more tips, go here.

Feel free to print out this post for your reference.

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