My teenager and sex
My teenage daughter is considering having sex. How do I manage it?
It is often very difficult for parents to talk to their children about sex, especially when they are already teenagers. Sometimes parents know they should address this issue but they do not know how to start or what to say. Very often the parents think that the time has come to tell the child about sex just to realise that the child already knows a lot. A lot more than what the parent thought the child should know. The parents wonder where the child got all the information and the child finds it very amusing that the parent thinks she knows nothing and wants to talk to him about sex. If the parents find the situation embarrassing they will often never mention sex again and hope and pray the child will make the “right decisions”, even is the parent cannot define what the “right decisions” should be.
Teenagers are very exposed to sexual undertones, images and messages. A teenage girl once put it this way: “It doesn’t matter in what kind of relationship you are, or where you are, sex is always in the air. It hovers there waiting to be reacted on.”
To be sexually active or not is a decision the teenager makes. It helps if the parent can talk to the teenager, especially to put sex within the moral beliefs of the parents and to discuss consequences of being sexually active. But in the end the parent cannot make the decision on behalf of the teenager. If a teenager decides to become sexually active, she must accept full responsibility for the decision as well as the consequences. It is not the parent’s responsibility to take charge of the situation when something goes unplanned, like an unwanted pregnancy or contracting a sexually transmitted infection. The parent can offer support but it is the teenager’s responsibility to find a solution to the situation.
It is also not the parent’s decision to put the teenager on a contraceptive. The parent has to give the teenager all the information but the decision to use a contraceptive has to come from the child. Very often parents will put the child on a contraceptive, not to protect the child but to protect the parent from unwanted experiences.
Over the next few months we are going to address certain aspects of sexuality and the sexual relationship. We hope this will help parents to talk more freely to the teenager about sex and the consequences of being sexually active.
Author: Dr Tersia Cruywagen
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