A new study finds that sending and receiving sexually explicit messages is a very normal part of teenage relationships. Apparently, so is having real sex! Adrienne Laursen, LMFT, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of The Engagement Coach, shares tips for talking to your children about social media, sexting, and sexual intercourse.
- Over 2,000 Australian high school students surveyed, age 16-18
- Conducted every 5 years to explore the sexual behavior of young people
- More than 50% had received a sexually explicit text message
- 26% reported sending a sexually explicit photo of themselves to a fellow teen
-25% of 10th graders reported having had sex
-1/3 of 11th graders reported having had sex
-50% of 12th graders reported having had sex
Sexting is a very real, very normal part of relationships now. And to assume your children aren’t engaging in those behaviors is really asking for trouble down the road. So, what can you do about it?
Don’t take the “What I Don’t Know Won’t Hurt Me” approach
A lot of parents shy away from being aware of their teen’s sexual activity because they don’t know what to do about it. But assuming your teen isn’t engaging in these behaviors is really doing you both a disservice, and could end up with negative consequences. There’s also the technology piece. Children are far more advanced in their technical abilities and some parents may find it difficult to keep up, or simply don’t how to even access social media sites. LEARN and make it a requirement that you be added to your children’s accounts.
Get comfortable talking about sex
Before you can talk to your teen about sex, you need to make sure you’re comfortable giving and receiving sexual information. A lot of adults have a difficult time discussing sex in their own relationships, so the thought of discussing it with their child will likely be overwhelming.
-Talk to a friend, read information online, gather resources and do your research!
- Practice what you want to discuss with your teen and plan for possible roadblocks. Practice with a partner, friend or just in front of the mirror. You need to exude confidence, openness, and compassion if this is going to go well.
- Be ready to hear things you may not want to know, and don’t be judgmental when you do!
Tips for addressing your teen
Will they like it? No! Will they try to get you to go away and leave them alone? Yes! Just remember it’s your duty as the parent to make sure they’re safe, and sexual safety is just as important as physical and emotional safety.
- Approach your teen with an open tone, and stay away from blaming, shaming, shock and anger.
- Be confident, like you can handle this conversation, even if you’re dying inside.
- Be a good listener. Your teen needs to feel heard and understand for this conversation to sink in and hold any merit.
- Set boundaries for what is allowed and what isn’t. (social media, sex and birth control, etc.)
- Help your teen consider both the pros and the cons of being sexually active.
- Don’t be afraid to discuss detailed information. If they can’t talk to you about the details, guess where they’re getting their information?!
- Plan to revisit this topic frequently, and set the next date and time at the end of your first meeting.
For more information on Adrienne’s counseling services and free relationship tips, please visit her website at www.TheEngagementCoach.com.