Parenting Teens

Teenage sexuality. I’m having a problem with that term because it implies that sexuality is something new in the teenage years. Children are born with sexuality ant there is no developmental phase where it just appears.
Children explore their own bodies as toddlers. They express curiosity about the differences between their bodies and mommy and daddy’s. Small children are often discovered playing doctor’. In other words, children’s curiosity about the human body is present at a very early age. If you start at this time to answer questions openly and honestly, then in the teenage years “the talk” will come naturally.
Most children are exposed to sexual behavior on television, in advertisements and movies. Questions naturally pop up and your reaction tells your child much about your attitude toward discussing the subject. If you won’t explain, or get angry at the question being asked, you are telling your child that this is a topic they can not discuss with you. A simple straight forward answer tells them you are open to talking about it. Great detail is not necessary, nor is it usually what they are looking for. Just don’t avoid the subject.
A child’s attitude toward the human body and sexual behavior develops through out their life time. They absorb the attitudes of those around them. They watch behaviors on television, in school and in their own home. By the time they are considering a physical relationship with someone, their beliefs are already firmly established.
At this point, if you have shown them that you are available to discuss the subject, your child will most likely approach you to discuss things like birth control, etc. Or perhaps you will notice a relationship developing that could become physical in nature. Be aware of indirect questions that can be used to lead into the subject. Subtlety is the key now, because teenagers embarrass easily. Don’t bring the subject up in front of friends or relatives. Let your child lead the conversation and answer as honestly and completely as you can. If a question arises that you can not answer, say so, and offer to help in discovering the answer. This is not the time to preach or judge. Remember, this is your child asking for your advise and help. Treat it as an honor. It is an affirmation of the trust your child has in you and your relationship.
Some times a child is not open to discussion of sexuality, either because it embarrasses them, or they are just not ready to discuss it yet. When this happens respect their wishes. Alternatives to the talk’ include providing books on the subject or consulting your doctor for possible teaching devices such as video presentations or classes in your area. What is important is that the information is available to your child when they need it. How you present it is strictly between your child and you.