Consequently, all things being equal there is a pretty good chance that our older teenagers are going to become sexually active. Of course none of this is written in stone and there is a considerable body of research that suggests that parents can have significant influence over their children's sexual behavior, including delaying their involvement in sexual intercourse.
But the numbers are what they are; unless things change a sizable portion of older teenagers are going to go all the way at least once. So mom and dad how does all this make you feel? I asked in a previous post when it comes to your teen, how much sexual behavior you would be okay with her or him engaging in http: I discussed various sexual behaviors ranging from kissing, to touching, to oral sex, to intercourse, and I said that while we might be alright with our teens engaging in kissing and some sexual touching, overwhelmingly most parents hope that their kids will be able to delay having sexual intercourse until they reach adulthood.
I further explained that no matter the perceived benefits of sexual intercourse, when we discuss this behavior in the context of teenagers, the risks and costs will always outweigh the advantages.
But is there another way of looking at all this? Is it ever possible that our kids could engage in sexual intercourse where we the parents would not be as freaked out over it as we might think we would be?
Isn't it entirely possible that our sixteen or seventeen year old could find her or himself in a romantic sexual relationship with another teen where all the ingredients come together in such a way that any risk of harm as a result of having intercourse is reduced to a minimum? Where there is professed love? Where there is considerable mutual respect and trust? Where there is proper use of a condom and even a back-up contraceptive used? Where there is every bit of responsibility used that the most experienced and conscientious adult would use?
Now please don't go and misunderstand me here. I am not advocating that teens should have sexual intercourse. Those of you who have read my blogs should know that while I believe our messages to our kids need to be "sex positive" they also need to be tempered with lots of caution and a lot of talk about why it is in their best interests to wait to have sexual intercourse until adulthood.
But I can see where there could be a set of circumstances where it might not be the end of the world should our older teens have sex. So let's re-group here a little bit. I have said several times in my previous posts how important it is to instill in our kids the understanding that when it comes time to have sexual intercourse that they have it with someone that they love, respect and trust and where they are as sure as possible that their partner shares the same sentiments.
And I have talked about how important it is for us to instill in our children the ability to know when they have these ingredients in their relationship with another person. That getting our kids to understand and appreciate these qualities takes considerable time and effort, but if we are able to teach them how to recognize when they have found them they will go a long way in insulating them from the potential risks and hazards that can come from being sexually active.
When we have love, respect, and trust with the person we have sex with we never have to fear that our partner would ever do anything to hurt us. I have talked as well about the need to teach our kids about effective condom use and how combining a back-up contraceptive with the condom is especially effective in minimizing that a pregnancy will occur or a sexually transmitted infection might be shared. Think of things in the following context for a minute. Think about how much time and effort we put into teaching our kids when they were very young how to cross the street correctly and safely.
We spent countless hours talking to our kids how to cross the street at the corner, on the green, not in-between. We talked about it at dinner, while riding in the car, and even roll-played various situations our kids might experience when crossing the street. And most importantly, we took them to the corner and practiced over and over and over again, how to cross the street correctly. Look this way, look that way, listen for sounds, look again.
We practiced, talked to them, and practiced with them again until we were blue in the face! Finally, one day we decided we did all that we could and turned our backs and let them go it alone. Off they went and crossed the street on their own. And you know what? There WILL be times when they will cross the street not at the corner but from the middle of the road.
Just like us adults right? Most all of our kids will, at times, cross the street from the middle of the road and not at the corner. No matter how much time and effort we put in to teach them to cross at the corner, they will at times do it from the middle of the road. But hopefully, because of all of our teaching and guidance they will do it by not darting out into the street willy-nilly.
They will still look both ways, they will still look several times, they will still listen for the roar of an on-coming truck or car, and will still cross the street very carefully nevertheless. So they might at times cross in the middle but will do it in such a way that they minimize the risk of getting hit and harmed.
Our kids are going to have sex at some point. Whether they wait until adulthood or they have it as a teen So let's think about it like we think about how they cross the street. Let's give them all the guidance and teach them all the skills that are needed to one day engage in responsible sexual behavior. And let's teach them that waiting to have sex until one is an adult is in their best interests. But let's all understand that even when we do all this some of our kids will still have sex when they are teens.
Just like some of our kids will cross the street not at the corner as we taught them but will cross it in the middle of the road. But if we did our job well, if they do have sex, they will do it in the context where the risks are reduced to a minimum.
Just like when they occasionally cross the street in the middle of the road.