PARENTS – YOU HAVE THE POWER!
In some schools, the abstinence-only format prohibits discussion of sex education as it relates to birth control. Therefore, there is a communication gap and disparity in the definition of what sex is to adolescents.
- Adolescents don’t necessarily consider oral sex, anal sex, and masturbation of self or others as intercourse. Adolescents often consider these other forms of sex as safe because they can’t cause pregnancy. The abstinence-only format focuses on pregnancy.
The second confusion of the abstinence-only program is the question of virginity.
- Adolescent girls feel that other forms of sexual activity other than intercourse allow them to remain virgins – an important part of the abstinence program. This allows girls to engage in what they consider acceptable forms of sexual behavior.
In adolescents, there is peer pressure for sexual activity:
- Girls feel that any sexual activity other than intercourse gives them a type of control in relationships.
- Of course, boys feel pressure to lose their virginity.
- In the abstinence program, girls are pressured to keep their virginity.
- This confusion and misinformation has now led to less pregnancy but more sexually transmitted diseases.
- Adolescents feel abstinent if they don’t engage in intercourse, and this explanation leads to a more casual attitude toward early experimentation.
- There is the need to be loved; to belong; to be accepted – with sex having little or nothing to do with orgasm and everything to do with connecting.
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?
The most successful parents are the ones that talk to their children about everything as intimately as possible. The parents that fail to connect with their children on sexual matters are the ones that are saying, “just say no.”
- Parents must guide their children empathically through conversations about sex and healthy lifestyles – and they must be what they want to see.
- Speak to your children specifically about your moral and sexual values. Be clear, speak often, intimately, and early with your children about sex – giving age-appropriate information.
- Use the empathic process, which allows for a confluent exchange of information. In this way, not only will your children learn about your morals and values, but you will get insight into theirs. This will allow you to make misinformation adjustments.
- In parenting, it is important to listen, communicate, and demonstrate mutual value and respect for one another.
- Parents must parent. That means knowing where your children are, what they are doing, and with whom.
- Involve your children in establishing house rules and their consequences. In that way, they will feel invested and validated and more likely to obey. These house rules include curfews and expectations.
- Pay attention to your child – know their friends.
Parenting is about influencing and positive regard:
- Influence against premature dating and dating older adolescents.
- Practice and rehearse your child as you prepare them to become young adults.
- Talk about patterns of risky behaviors and situations – then give alternatives – empowering substitutes.
- Monitor your child’s media exposure to both violence and sexually explicit entertainment. Your TV is just an appliance, and parents have the power to turn it off – this applies to reading, music, and video games.
Parents do have the power to parent their children, guide them, influence them, and help them set goals for themselves. If children have plans for a self-actualized future in which they are liked for their contribution rather than approval, they will be less vulnerable to peer pressure.
In the final analysis – be what you want to see. Parents must model the authentic, healthy behavior they want for their children.