Ways to talk to your teen about sex:
- 7 in 10 American teens have had sexual intercourse by the age of 19; the average age being 16.
- 1 in 3 American adolescents will have an STD by the age of 21 and America holds the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the developed world.
- Research indicates that teens want to be able to talk to their parents about sex, but for conversations to be effective, they need to be both knowledgeable and, most importantly, open.
- Many parents fear that opening the conversation will increase risk and/or sexual activity. This is a myth. Talking about sex doesn't lower the age of intercourse, it does however increase the chances of healthier encounters, relationships and the use of contraception.
- Amsterdam is usually thought to be one of the most sexually permissive places in the world, but one thing that most people don't know is that teenage pregnancies rates in the U.S. are more than 6 times greater than those in the Netherlands! Moreover, among teens, syphilis rates in the U.S. are more than twice those in the Netherlands, Clymadia 19 times higher, and Gonorrhea, the second most commonly reported infectious disease in the U.S., adolescent rate is almost 33 times greater.
- Adults need to see intimate sexual relationships as a natural part of older adolescence and something that can be a positive component of emotionally healthy maturation.
- Talking about sex through different mediums (e.g., TV, film) is a good way to open the conversation, because it's not directly about them; it's about their views or reactions to something else. You are still having the conversation it's just a lot less uncomfortable.
- Conversations should be about relationships and not just anatomy, STDs or contraception. Sex, after all, is about intimacy with someone else.
- It is important to dispel myths about sex, relationships, and babies. Some teens intentionally try to get pregnant to get closer to their partner; in reality women are more likely to be victim to domestic violence when pregnant.
- Know the resources - so if they don't want to get all of their facts from you they have a legitimate place to go.
Dr. Nicole Meise is a Licensed Psychotherapist and Relationship Expert based in Southern California who specializes in Teen Intimacy Issues; Dating & Mate Selection; Pre-Marital Counseling; Couples Therapy; Stress Management; Interpersonal Communication; and Conflict Resolution.
She also has experience working with chronic mental illness, addiction, antisocial behavior and body image issues. Nicole holds a Doctorate in Psychology from Oxford University and has collaborated on projects with the Kinsey Institute and American Psychological Association. Her work has earned several distinctions, to include the Williams Prize for outstanding work in Psychology and an Honorable Mention from the American Psychological Association.