The birds and bees

Sexual identity and sexuality are some of life’s great mysteries to a teenager. A crush on a classmate can make the teen to dream their days away. Even an actor in their favourite television series can completely take over their thoughts. Becoming aware of their sexuality, changing body, and how it reacts to stimulation can result in new situations and cause confusion. It can feel embarrassing and exciting at the same time and raise questions, like: Is it normal to feel this way? Is it normal to act this way? Therefore, you should discuss sexuality with your teen and give them balanced and positive information about sexuality, sex, partnership, and intimacy.

Start the conversation by asking your teen what they already know about sex and sexuality and how they feel about the issue. You should ask what they have learnt at school and what the teachers or the school nurse and their friends have told them about sex. This is a good way to map out what your child already knows about the subject and what beliefs they may have. You should time the conversation, for example, after a news story or a movie that has covered the subject. You can also directly ask if the teen has any questions about the issue. Talk about your own teenage crushes, happy moments, and disappointments, but do not open up about your sex life more than is required.

The parents’ relationship and how the parents show their affection towards each other will create the foundation for how the teen will view partnership and interaction between two adults. Kissing, affectionate touching and a loving feeling between parents will create a positive and valued image of partnership. The teen sees that love and partnership are a natural part of life. It is important to tell your teen that sexuality is a positive thing that should be respected and nurtured. Tell them that they should give their sexuality time to mature and not start to explore it too early or let anyone pressure them into doing so.

Your job as a parent is to let your child know that sex is something that only adults should practice and there is no hurry to start having a sex life. It is important to emphasize that sex should never be forced, and that both parties must consent to it and want it to happen. Sex is more intimate and pleasurable if you have it with someone important, someone whom you love and appreciate.

Birth control is another topic you should discuss when talking about sexuality with your teen. You should openly and honestly explain that having intercourse without any protection can lead to unpleasant diseases or an unwanted pregnancy. You should talk about different birth control methods, but remember to emphasize that condoms are the only protection against both diseases and pregnancy. Condoms are easily available everywhere and you don’t need a prescription for them.

You should also discuss inappropriate sexual behaviour. You need to make clear that your child’s private parts are off limits to both friends and strangers alike. You should explain what type of behaviour counts as sexual harassment and remind your child that it is not acceptable to send or receive any revealing photos via websites or applications.

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