As a parent, are you apprehensive to discuss sexuality with your teenager? Many teenagers want to be able to discuss sexuality with their parents, but may be afraid to because of the consequence or feel like their parents will not listen, become suspicious. Here are 7 common mistakes to avoid when discussing sexuality with your teenager:
Parents that are apprehensive to discuss sexuality with their teenagers often play the “Pretend It Is Not There Game”. Parental avoidance and sexuality is a not a good combination when it comes to teenagers. Sexuality can be overwhelming and even scary for a lot of teenagers, and many actually wish they could discuss it with their parents. Overcoming your own fears to discuss sexuality may help alleviate their own fears.
2. Stick to surface talk
Many parents of teenagers discuss sexuality on a surface level limited only the basics of sexuality. All the while, they may neglect the deeper issues of the emotional aspects that are a part of sexuality: the feelings of hurt and betrayal in a relationship that has gone bad, or the intensity of infatuation that tend not to last. Sexuality cannot be separated from feelings, and discussing them with your teenager now can prevent heartache later.
3. Shut down communication with them
Many parents so desperately want to have an open communication with their teenagers, especially when it comes to sexuality. Yet, somehow their discussions about sexuality can be either reactive or passive in nature. Open communication requires more listening than lecturing. When discussing sexuality with your teenager, ask open-ended questions, and then be prepared to listen, and the listen some more. Dialogues tend to go a lot further than monologues in the communication process.
4. Forget about the relationship
Like many adults, teenagers often equate sexuality with a relationship. What many tend to forget is that sexuality is the by-product of a healthy relationship. Healthy sexuality requires the sacred trust that is a result of the vulnerability of healthy relationship that has taken a time and maturity to develop. Often teenagers, think when they date someone that they are required to develop their sexual skills for later in their adult life. In reality, a better focus is to work on the skills needed to build a healthy relationship, rather than being distracted by sexuality. Teenagers are generally not ready for the emotional consequences that result from sexuality.
5. Being passive
Some parents do not want to “intrude” on their teenager’s personal lives, as if even asking about their teenager’s sexual lives is a taboo. Your teenager may talk like he/she knows how to make good decisions about sexuality, and even made some good decisions. Yet, he/she lacks the wisdom that comes from life experiences. The teenage years are still a formative time to when your teenager is learning to make some significant lifestyle decisions. And they need help making these decisions. Do not lose the opportunity to passivity.
6. Speaking in the short term
Many teenagers are near sighted when it comes to sexuality. Caught up in emotions of the moment and immediacy, it can be difficult to consider the long-term consequences of their behaviors. Have discussions with your teenager about the physical, emotional, and spiritual costs of their behaviors. Sometimes long term vision can prevent heartache in the present.
7. Only discuss it once
Many parents think if they discuss sexuality just once with their teenager, then they have done their job. Wrong! Our culture is too inundated with sexuality to have this discussion just once. It is in the malls, magazines, television, Internet, and even amongst the discussion with peers. To expand your sexuality discussions beyond the basics of intercourse, and to include the myriad of other factors that are related to sexuality can enhance the closeness with your teenager – which is heart’s desire of both parents and teenagers.