While most moms like to think that their developing teens are abstaining from sex, studies show that an ever-increasing number of children are experimenting with sex during their teen years.
Many parents worry about the potential physical impact of having sex, such as acquiring a sexually transmitted disease or becoming pregnant. They preach safe sex to their teens. While these physical after-effects of sex are real and potentially serious, many parents fail to consider the emotional impact of sex. But these emotional effects are important and worthy of consideration.
Prevalence of Teen Sex
Many parents allow themselves to sleep at night by telling themselves that there is no way that their precious angel is having sex yet. While this may be true, they could also be kidding themselves for the sake of their sanity. The Guttmacher Institute reports that 46 percent of teens aged 14 to 19 reported having had sex at least once. This means that your oh-so-young kiddo has nearly a 1 in 2 chance of becoming sexually active during her teen years.
Post-Sex Let Down
For many teens, having sex leaves emotional scars. WebMD reports that many sexually active teens admit that they have felt used post-sex and felt bad about themselves for giving in to the sexual temptation. The Heritage Foundation reports that, when compared with their virginal counterparts, sexually active teens were less likely to report feelings of happiness and more likely to exhibit signs of depression. In an even more startling study, the same source found that sexually active girls were three times more likely to attempt suicide than virgins and sexually active boys were eight times more likely to try to take their lives than non-sexually active teens.
While both boys and girls can experience emotional problems as a result of deciding to have sex, there are major differences in the ways that teens respond to sex, depending on their gender. Boys are more likely to brag about their sexual conquests and use the experience as a tool to garner popularity. Girls were three times more likely to report that they felt used as a result of their sexual encounter and, perhaps as a result, were more likely to keep their non-virgin status under wraps.
Preparation is Key
In many sex-ed classes, teens are taught about the physiology of sex. While it is important that these developing adults know about the physical side of engaging in sexual behavior, many contend that there should be more emphasis put upon an exploration of the emotional side of engaging in sex as well. Preparing teens for the emotions that they will likely feel after having sex is vital to ensure that they don’t become overwhelmed by these emotions.
As a parent, the best thing that you can do for your child is give her a nonjudgmental ear. It is understandably difficult for any parent to deal with her daughter entering the realm of sexual experience, but preaching to your child and chastising her for doing so will only heighten any emotional difficulties she may be experiencing. If your child comes to you and wants to talk about her sex life, listen and sooth as well as you can. Regardless of the sexual choice she has made, she is still your daughter and she still needs you love and support.