Can we please stop being so weird about sex?! For the sake of our kids we really need to get over it because the challenge of talking candidly with our kids today is significantly easier than dealing with the consequences of tomorrow.
I came across an article titled, “One-Third of Tween Clothes are Sexy, Study Finds” with the subtitle, “Adolescent Girls Dressed in Skimpy Outfits Seen as Less Intelligent, Less Moral”. This comes on the heels of Abercrombie Kids latest, “Cute Butt” sweatpants for 7 year-olds. Just sayin’! The world is talking to our kids all day long about sex. We live in a sexual culture surrounded by all things sexy. Everything we watch, wear, read and hear in the course of a day has some element of sexuality tied to it. Even our favorite cartoon characters are trying to get some. Case in point: Pepe LaPew!
We need to talk to our kids more often and more loudly than the world. We don’t have to look far for opportunities to engage our kids in conversation. Just go to the mall! Ask questions. Listen. Then speak. Yes, they will roll their eyes. But don’t let that little annoyance set you back. Respect their “boundaries” but don’t be intimidated by them. They might be taller than you or have a deeper voice, but they are still kids trying to figure it all out. And you know more!
We’ve got some wisdom and our kids need to know a few things. I’m not talking about the “how to’s” of sex, although if your kids ask, I say start talking! What I am talking about is teaching our kids the lessons of our sexual experiences, the good, bad and ugly, as well as teaching the new risks of sex that didn’t exist when we were teens. The physical and emotional costs are too high to let this go.
Teens like to think they know it all, but they still don’t want to know that their parents are sexual beings. We are their parents for heavens sake! Yes, we had sex in order to get them here, so they must have some idea that we might know a few things! Our job is to get comfortable talking about sex (if we could, I think a few marriages could be saved, but this is a topic for another day). In other words, start getting real with your kids. Let them know you understand their language by speaking it.
The space between our textbook knowledge and our bedroom experience is exactly where the conversation with our teens should take place. Be clinically wise, but street smart. Use real words that don’t sound like they are coming from a text book, but don’t make your kid run for the door by getting too personal. We know that sex, out of its proper, God-given context can have life-long, detrimental consequences. We simply know too much not to share it with them over and over again.
What I find funny is that adults think about sex, do it, talk about it, read about it, and quietly click on it when they think no-one is watching (I mean, c’mon, someone is fueling the multi-billion dollar porn industry!), but the minute we contemplate a conversation with our children it’s like we become asexual. Have you forgotten about all those questions you had when you were a teen but were too afraid to ask? Don’t wait for them to ask. Sex talk isn’t taboo! It’s part of who we are and what we do. The conversation is necessary and it’s our responsibility to keep it consistent, ongoing and age appropriate.
If your life experience isn’t enough, or if you can’t quite shake off your own insecurity, embarrassment or discomfort with the topic, then find some resources to help you. Last night I took my fifteen year-old daughter to hear Pam Stenzel speak about the advantages of abstinence and the fact that sex still has a price tag. The auditorium was packed with parents and teens, and the presentation was loud, raw and honest. I even learned a few things about STD’s that I didn’t know. What a nightmare that is! We gotta know and we gotta teach our kids. Their lives depend on it. When a 6’8″ high school senior told Pam Stenzel that he gets teased for being a virgin, she told him to say this, “Any day, even tonight, I could choose to be like you. But you will never again be like me.” I like that!
We can’t make choices for our kids, but we can equip them. If you have some good advice about talking to teens about sex, share it here! We’d love to know what’s working, and even what isn’t.