Teen Sex & Relationships

* Sex & Relationships – Research has found that half of teenagers regret their first sexual experience and nearly 80 per cent wish they’d waited longer. Not only do parents need to consider issues like preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) but such research suggests every parent should be concerned with emotional implications of early sexual experiences.


It's important to put aside any embarrassment you might feel and put your child's well-being first by making frank sexual discussions a reasonably regular occurrence. I stress regular because a one-off discussion of sex when, e.g., your child is 13 will soon be forgotten.


Most parents fear any discussion of sex will lead to detailed questions about sexual technique. Most teens aren’t keen to discuss such ins and outs of sex with their parents, however they’ll feel more supported - and loved - if you’re able to raise the subject of relationships and sex.


Putting any discussion of sex into the context of relationships is a good starting point. The use of story lines from television programmes and actual stories in the press can make the conversation easier.


Begin by asking what they have learnt at school. Then ask if there's anything they feel they like to know. Have ready a guide about sexual matters geared at adolescence to offer them. Let them know you understand if this discussion makes them feel a little uncomfortable. Tell them such feelings are only natural.


Next you can ask them about what they've heard at school about sex and relationships from classmates and what they think of the stories they hear. This is a good way to elicit their personal attitudes. Finally discuss with them the pressure they will find themselves under even from outwardly "nice" boyfriends or girlfriends.


You can stress that it can feel good getting physically close to someone but it's a very different thing going all the way. Stress how important it is they put themselves first in relationships and let them know they can always talk to you about worries. By making them aware that just because they may have good intentions towards the boy or girl they fancy doesn't necessarily mean that boy or girl will have good intentions back is simply giving them a realistic view of life.


Adolescent relationships can be very intense even when no sexual activity is involved. Don't laugh at their "puppy love". Parents forget how utterly disrespectful such attitudes can be. If your teen feels ridiculed over their feelings towards someone then they’re far less likely to come to you if they have a problem.


When they do bring home a boy or girlfriend, insist they stay in family areas. As they get older, perhaps 16, you could allow them in their bedroom if there’s some reason, like a television or CD player in there, as long as the leave the door open and you pass by regularly.


Parents get worried about laying down such boundaries when these actually make your teen feel more secure and less vulnerable to pressure.


If you find it very difficult to talk to them about sexual health matters then get them to check out www.sexplained.com which has good, straightforward information.


Also for information on contraception checkout www.fpa.org.uk


Finally, it is your duty as a parent to try and keep your child safe from early sexual experiences for as long as possible. Every day counts and it’s worth your time and effort to back them up in the face of peer pressure, and help them grow the confidence needed to know when the right time is to have sex.


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