Does anyone else think kids today are growing up too fast? It’s not that they are growing into responsibilities of adulthood or suddenly learning faster than the rest of us did, but the youth of America is becoming more and more mature as they become more and more overexposed. And while many of you are thinking about our culture teaching children new and exciting curse words or spreading violence, I’ve noticed kids today are exposed most in matters concerning sex.
The Traumatizing Day!
I think everyone remembers the traumatizing day that the mysteries of sex were revealed to them. Most of you, like me, probably stumbled upon some awkward movie scene flipping past cartoons or happened upon some risqué soap opera scene your mother ironed the family laundry. At ten years old, I remember making paper dolls and seeing much more than I wanted in a love scene of Eyes Wide Shut. Perhaps others of you overheard some other kid on your bus ride to school talking about what his big brother told him about sex (shhh!) or exchanged words with a friend about how their parents had finally given them “the talk.”
You see, “the talk” is inevitable. Oh, but it’s necessary. And parents, you should realize that while you’re anxious and uncomfortable bringing it up, “the talk” isn’t enjoyable for either party involved. Although it may surprise you, your children probably know more about the conversation than you’d like them to, so expansive explanations of the primitive mechanics of the birds and the bees is unnecessary. Rather, the goal is to talk open and honestly together and most importantly—create a space for future conversations. As a “kid-adult” at age 23, here are a few steps I feel would be most helpful in aiding you to have “the talk” with your child:
1. Remember & Relate: Don’t try to be the “cool mom” just be the “cool mom”
Remember what it was like to be your child’s age. How did you feel about the opposite sex? What mistakes did you make? What mistakes did you WANT to make at that age? Forget all of the age old wisdom you’ve gained and put yourself in your child’s shoes to relate to them because this will create an enormous level of comfort and trust. Also, realize that your child probably won’t be able to comprehend that you were EVER in junior high or high school, so give this concept time to catch on.
2. Use resources: Let someone else do the educating for you.
There are dozens of resources available in both book or film formats. I suggest going to see the new movie Expecting Mary –a film about a young teen who unexpectedly gets pregnant the journey she faces thereafter due to her decisions. Films like this one help young people relate because they see someone their age and connect decisions with real life consequences. Whatever you do, do not turn on black and white 60s explanation of sex via old sex-ed tapes.
3. Don’t say “DON’T!”
Remember back when you were 16 and the moment someone told you NOT to do something, it suddenly became an attractive, enticing option. Rebellion for teens is nothing new—if you use the phrase “do not!” your child will most likely wonder and experiment with doing that very thing. Instead, I suggest discussing prevention and protection rather than saying DO NOT have sex altogether.
4. Give real life consequences
Many teens lack judgment and logic because they see fun opportunities, but don’t understand the outcomes. Be sure that your child understands the consequences of sex. Plainly explain that while sex has many positives, a night of pleasure is not worth the painstaking months and years associated with raising a child. Explain the costs of raising a child and even the costs of teen pregnancy, as well as the torture of losing precious time with high school friends and possibly ruining their future. Your child needs your help seeing the bigger picture to make a full well-rounded, educated decision concerning sex.
About the Author:
Bridget Nielsen is the author of The Secret to Finding Passion in Your Career and a blogger for the Huffington Post helping kids and college graduates re-discover their passions, confidence, and self-love. Her 23 year old youthful age and her studies on each generation gives her a unique and creative perspective to relate to children while understanding parents, and their needs. She is a graduate of Pepperdine University with a double major in Fine Arts and Business Administration.