Few things send shivers down your spine as a parent like the prospect of your offspring navigating the rocky waters of love, romance, and sex. They don’t seem ready, and they never will seem ready. Will your innocent little lamb be corrupted by a deviant? Will your sensitive butterfly have their heart broken by a callous sociopath? Have they learned enough sexual safety in school?
One surprise that your teenager has in store for you is that the safety aspect is likely to be covered already, but the social aspect is the real problem. Every parent – or at least the education infrastructure – drills sexual safety into children’s heads from a very young age. They learn the “birds and the bees,” and girls see the menstruation video in middle school, but it’s just the bare mechanics. A child raised in Western culture is almost guaranteed to know the names of every STD, but be absolutely clueless as to how to ask somebody out on a date.
Draw From Your Own Experience
As a parent, it helps to step back and ask yourself what you struggled with on your way to, well, becoming a parent. How did you discover your first urge to connect with another human being? What fumbles and missteps did you make on your way to your first date? How many times did you feel awkward, embarrassed, or intimidated on your way to your first sexual encounter? How did your first break-up go, and what frustrations did you feel on your way to finding your ideal partner? Notwithstanding the question of whether you’ve found your ideal partner even now!
Have some appreciation for your teenager who is struggling through these problems for the first time. You have probably already been told how to talk to your kids about safe sex. But don’t forget to offer some suggestions in how to strike up those all-important relationships so your kids can eventually use this information in the first place!
Children also pick up your attitudes and politics when it comes to sexual relationships. Obviously, religion will play a heavy role if that’s a factor with you. Your children also imprint from your own example. Children raised in a single-parent home may get the idea that love isn’t a lasting thing. Children raised in a home dominated by one gender may develop a biased and skewed view of gender politics. And of course, children raised with only one adult around will develop a mono-polar view of gender and sexual orientation – being biased to the gender and orientation of the parent while having no clue about the others.
Typical Problems That May Come Up
- Your child has a crush on somebody and it’s not reciprocated.
- Your child attempts an advance at the object of their affection, but comes off awkwardly.
- Your child is taken advantage of by a predatory partner.
- Your child is “played” by somebody trifling with them.
- Your child turns out to be a different sexual orientation from you.
- Your child turns out over-sexed or completely asexual.
- Your child learns everything about sex from porn on the Internet.
- Your child is stuck being a perpetual wallflower, too shy to talk to anyone.
- Your child develops a bigoted streak regarding gender or orientation.
- Your child is perpetually lost and confused about their own identity – not able to make up their mind if they’re straight, gay, bi, for instance.
- Your child develops remarkably exotic tastes, such as fetishes, hang-ups, or being a prude.
- That’s just a tiny taste of what could be in store. It’s a messy world, and you might as well resign yourself that you’re going to have to wade into it. You’ll never be ready for every situation. You think you will, but then you’ll be confronted by a daughter in a tearful rage because the boy won’t call her, the son who has decided that his first sexual conquest must be a threesome at all costs, stumbling upon your opposite-gender child trying on your clothes (or rummaging through your bedroom toy drawer), or your daughter able to talk of nothing else but how many babies she wants to have right away.
Here’s some attempt at helpful tips, but your mileage will vary. Sexual and romantic development is a hot-button topic for people of all ages, after all, so we cannot answer for everyone here.
Accept that your child will “see it all” very young. With the Internet and exposure to other kids, physical carnality in all its varied forms will get to your child. Be ready for it. Better to have them discover the exotic stuff now, when they can ask you about it, than as an unprepared adult.
Strive to keep your child’s social skills developed. It’s alarming how many people try to be lovers when they’ve hardly even been anybody’s friend yet. Encourage your child to open up with people, socialize, appreciate a wide range of views, and be comfortable with themselves.
Brace your kid for the inevitable disappointment. Their first love is not going to be their perfect match, and chances are their fifth one might not be either. Offer whatever relationship advice you can; your kid is bound to stumble on the “psycho” partner at least once.
Raise your child with a healthy attitude towards the human body. This attitude may vary depending on your own beliefs, but generally children raised without the conception that their natural urges are “dirty” or “sinful” will have an easier time of it when they shyly wade into the sexual pool. A child doesn’t need to be raised with the fear of hell fire to understand that getting pregnant at 16 is a stupid thing to do.
Give your child a little privacy. While you should be watchful in case they get into something they can’t handle, your child will develop better skills in dating if they’re left to their own social life. And yes, your teenager at some time will develop an appreciation for locking their door, right around the time they’re curious about sexual stimulation.
Author Bio: Rachel Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.