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Teens And Sex -- 5 Must Ask Questions

What I am about to tell you may save the life of your child. In today's world the safety and well-being of your teenager depends on his awareness and knowledge of sex. It is critical that you, as a responsible and loving parent address that issue in detail. Here are some key questions to broach the subject, to let your child know you care and want the best for him. Recognize he may be reluctant to speak about something so personal with you if you are not accustomed to sharing feelings and intimate topics. You may feel embarrassed bringing up the subject.

Before you do, be sure you can answer these questions for yourself. Also, decide what you are comfortable sharing about your personal experiences and beliefs on the subject of teen sexuality and activity. * To start, simply ask your teenager, "What kind of questions do you have or what do you want to know more about regarding sex?" You will certainly grab his attention. * You may want to throw out some information he is unlikely to know, something like, "Do you know that the sex partners you choose can influence your vulnerability to certain types of cancer?" The object here is to get your child talking-or at least willing to talk. He may tell you he knows everything he needs to know.

Where do you go from there? * Ask, "Do you know that sex is not the same thing as love?" Watch his face for acknowledgement, disagreement, or confusion. Follow up with, "Sex is physical while love is emotional". Listen to him. Pay attention to what he says and to the words he does not speak. Notice his body language, hear the underlying message, the words between the lines, his tone, word choice and pace. Note his emotions, eye contact, and whether he is at ease or trying to conceal any discomfort. If you do observe that he is uncomfortable, tell him you noticed and ask if he wants to talk about what is bothering him. Assure him that you are not here to judge him. Most important, let him know you are having this talk because you love him and no matter what he has done or is thinking about doing, he is safe talking with you. Tell him nothing can change your love for him.

And then go where he takes you. If he chooses to be silent, let him be silent. It is okay to have silence. You do not need to speak. He may be processing. Give him the time and space he needs to do what he needs to do. He knows you are available when he wants to talk. Facts are key. If he has unanswered questions, where can he go for accurate information? The streets, his friends, and the media may not be the best place to find what he seeks on the subject of sex. * Be sure you ask your child, "Do you know that protection is not a 100% guarantee of health, safety or an absolute deterrent to pregnancy?" Be sure he knows the consequences of the actions he may or may not take.

* Follow-up with, "Do you want help or advice in obtaining protection?" That question is especially important for girls who may want to see a gynecologist and may not know how to find a good one who can take care of her needs. If your teen uses the Internet, know that more than 61,000 searches were done in the month of April on phrases dealing with teen pornography. What pages is your child visiting? Ask. Know that if you impose your will he will go elsewhere to pursue his desires. Build trust with your teenager. The purpose in having this talk is education. I do not, in any way, shape, or form, advocate teen sex. However, statistics show that youngsters as young as 13 engage in sexual activity. Have the talk now. When hormones and peer pressure kick in, a wise and educated youngster, who has previously given thought to and made decisions about his actions, has a better chance of living the life he wants than one who has not prepared himself for the inevitable emotions and situations that will come up in life.

Actions and results, desirable and undesirable, reflect self esteem. To change behaviors, treat the cause not just the symptoms. What is the cost, to you and to him, of not knowing where your teenager stands on sex?.


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