Most parents are aware of all the risks of this early sexual activity—from the risk of pregnancy and AIDS to concerns about a teen’s ability to handle the intimacy that is comes with a relationship.
So how can parents talk with teens to urge them to delay sexual involvement? Marion Howard, director of the teen services program at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, offers these suggestions:
Help your teen understand that everybody isn’t sexually active. Teens who understand that all teens aren’t sexually active are less likely to be sexually active themselves.
Help teens find peers who are not sexually active. One way is by encouraging teens to have several different groups of friends—in the neighborhood, at church, and in a youth group such as Scouts or a community organization. With many friends, teens have better perspective on what others are doing.
Work with other parents to avoid party problems. “If all parents agree that their youth cannot go to parties unless there is a known adult present to supervise, the burden [of saying no] does not fall on any one family,” Howard says.
Give your teen plenty of responsibility. “The way most of us learn to take responsibility is to be given responsibility,” he notes. “Giving teens responsibility will show that you respect them and love them and will support their growth toward independence.”
Help your teen think about ways to show physical affection. It’s natural for teens who are dating to want to find a way to show their feelings physically. But teens need to think in advance about the limits they want to set.
Of course, parents may be uncomfortable in raising the issue. But “in helping them think through such situations, the parent is helping to meet one of the real needs of their children,” Howard advises.
Copyright © Parent Institute