Facing Facts- If you don’t tell them, someone else will do.
The hormones are raging; our TV shows saturated with sex and nudity, teenagers are curious and eager to experiment. Early sexualisation encouraged by media influences is increasingly available placing tremendous pressure on teenagers to have sex and relationships when they are not emotionally ready. As a parent, “when” is the best time to share your concerns about sex, sexuality and peer pressure with your teenagers? Or perhaps the question for some parents would be “how”. Parents are the most influential people in a child’s life and if they don’t learn about sex and relationships from their parents they will fill in the blanks with inaccurate information from friends and other sources.
Finding the right words to use could also be a challenge, however whatever the question or challenge may be, it’s important to share information with them so they know what to expect. In our society today, the subject is mostly ignored, avoided like a plague or parents are too busy with their jobs and other social events and relinquish the responsibility to the schools, carer, TV or the internet. Here are some tips to help.
- Start talking about it early: Rather than waiting till they are teenagers, you can start little discussions about how the body changes or ask a question relating to this subject while watching a scene from a TV program, reading a book or when out and about shopping to open up a conversation or if you haven’t started early, find out what they already know about sex and relationship, then communicate your expectations and share your values.
- Transparency and open dialogue: Children have to know that they are comfortable talking about anything including sex with you, answer questions simply and naturally.
- Platonic Friendship: Encourage them to make platonic friendship with both genders, without stereotyping as this will help them build confidence with their opposite sex and help set relationship boundaries in future.
- “W” Quads: Pay attention to the four “w” words, who, where, when and what. Monitor who your children associate with, where they go, when they are engaging and what they are constantly engaged in.
- Build Self Confidence in your children, Let them know that you appreciate them by constantly telling them that they are loved and that they are special. Teach them to value themselves and not seek people’s approval to make them feel better about themselves; as lack of self-confidence could lead a child to get involved in inappropriate relationships in pursuit of finding their self-worth.