Modern Day Sex Ed: Ways to Teach Your Teen About Healthy Sexual Development

Modern Day Sex Ed: Ways to Teach Your Teen About Healthy Sexual Development

Getting through their adolescent years can be pretty tough for teens, and just as difficult for their parents. After all, there is a lot to worry about. You want them to do well in school, associate with good friends, and generally learn how to be an adult before they actually become one. One of the most arduous parts of adolescence is sexual development, and countless parents worry about their teens’ sexual behaviors and attitudes. Sex can be a sensitive subject to talk about for both parents and teens. However, for the sake of healthy development and accurate information, parents need to ensure the issue is addressed.

How Should I Handle This?

Many parents wonder about the best ways to teach teens about healthy sexual development. Yes, health classes in school usually teach the subject, but most schools can’t afford to devote sufficient time and depth to such a complex topic. That’s why it’s up to parents to make sure their kids are both well-informed and well-adjusted when it comes to sex.

  • Talk about it, then talk about it some more
    No matter how much we’re advised to have open discussions about sexual development, a lot of parents (and teens) are still uncomfortable discussing it. But frank conversations about development, desires, and sexual identity are key to helping them form healthy attitudes, as well as avoiding the misinformation that may be prevalent among their peers. If you’re having trouble bridging that gap or approaching the subject with your teens, there are a host of resources and techniques available to you that may prove helpful.

    It’s also important for parents to be well-informed about what their kids are learning both in school and in social situations. It’s the only way to support their sexual education and head off any bad information they may be getting. Sharing the facts, offering advice, and providing moral guidance are all extremely important. Instead of purely mandating do’s and dont’s, simply try to keep the lines of communication open, honest, and productive. This way, your teen is more likely to come to you with their on questions or concerns.

  • Know what they’re getting outside of home
    The only way you can ensure your teen is getting the right ideas about sex is to be involved in educating them. It’s also the only way to correct the rampant misinformation with which they’re bombarded. Today’s culture is hyper-sexualized: the media, the internet, music, magazines, and friends all play a part in the constant bombardment. It’s important to prepare your kids for the changes they’ll be going through, and make it clear that everything they see or hear, even from sources they may think reputable, isn’t necessarily accurate or helpful.

    Much that we are presented with in the media is counter-productive to healthy sexual development and attitudes. Irresponsible sexual behaviors are often glorified and dramatized. When their peers are engaging in or talking about those behaviors, it can be difficult for teens to separate fact from fiction. Obviously, the only foolproof method of sexual safety is to abstain, and nearly half of all adolescents do just that. However, many teens feel invincible or take the attitude that “it won’t happen to me.” As a result, they find themselves in risky situations, where the pressure is too much and the consequences are lasting.

    Pornography is a prime example of a prevalent influence that do heavy damage to the healthy sexual development of young people. Pornography addiction is a troubling issue because of it’s affects on the adolescent brain. Today’s kids are exposed to pornography at an early age, most often via the internet, so it’s important for you to discuss with your kids how they should handle it and when to come to you with concerns.

    It’s vital that parents monitor what their children are told and exposed to. Try to provide the proper context for the information they are getting, and let them know you are there to answer their questions. Experience movies, music, and other media together, so you can reinforce the good that comes across, and clear up the bad. Then, having received the facts, they are more likely to recognize bad information or poor examples when they arise on their own.

  • Mitigate the pressure
    One of the most harmful aspects of adolescent sexual development is the pressure they may receive from others. As a parent, make sure your teens know that pressure, aggression, or coercion should never be part of any romantic or sexual relationship. If you have concerns your teen might be acting out sexually in inappropriate ways, it’s vital that you get them the help they need.

    Peer pressure is strong, and the media often plays a part in stimulating it. Be sure you empower your kids with your confidence in their ability to recognize and withstand these pressures. Instill in them the importance of their self-worth — that while sexuality is part of being human, they are so much more than that. Your family’s values will play a major role in how you guide your own children, but no matter what those values are, pressure should never be part of the equation. Always make it clear to them that they can and should bring their concerns to you.

  • Be the “no judgement” zone
    Many teens struggle with their own sexual development, identity, or behaviors. It’s completely normal for adolescents to have questions or concerns at any given time. As a parent, you are their number one source for guidance, education, and a soft place to fall. Lecturing and guidance are two very different things. Your child may come to you with concerns or questions that are worrisome to you. The best thing you can do is listen to them, accept them, and love them, then give them the advice they need in a nonjudgmental way. Make sure they know that they can trust that love, no matter what. If their choices conflict with your values, it’s important to know the difference between your approval of their choices and your approval of them.

Most parents have the primary goal of raising their children to be happy, healthy adults with positive values and productive lives. When it comes to sexual development, the best way to ensure your adolescents grow up with healthy attitudes and practices is to be involved, communicate, and provide the example of what you want them to become. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help in talking to and guiding your teen.

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