Teens are golden years in a person’s life. You are neither a child nor an adult and full of curiosity and zest to unfold the musings of life. Teenage can come with a lot of inquisitiveness about what’s right and what’s not and a major point of contention is sex!
Should you do it, should you not? How to be safe? When is the right time? How to know if you are ready? These are questions most teens grapple with.
In our next edition of expert advice, we spoke to Dr. Fran Walfish on how teens can talk to their parents about sex and everything else that comes with the topic. Dr Fran is a Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, author, The Self-Aware Parent, and regular expert child psychologist on The Doctors, CBS TV, and co-star on Sex Box, WE tv. Here’s what she said!
Having open honest communication with your parents about getting on birth control, sex and sexual engagement, and feelings can be frightening and overwhelming. At best, it is a complicated conversation because all of us, including parents, were given direct and covert messages about sex from our mothers, fathers, grandparents, teachers, religious leaders, nannies, and other authority figures. You can also add to that the fears developed by belief systems of other cultures.
These beliefs penetrate us at a young, impressionable age and become part of our own perspective and reality. One must be highly self-aware, accountable, and evolved to break the pattern of passing down these beliefs, categorizations, and even prejudices from generation to generation. When a young woman faces talking to her parents about getting on birth control you can see the myriad of issues she will unintentionally bump into. Some of these issues include:
- each parent’s individual level of openness to self-examination;
- mom and dad’s attitudes toward sex before marriage;
- parent’s capacity to let go of the teen/woman daughter and allow her the freedom for independent ideas and decision-making;
- and most of all, the history of open, healthy communication over the daughter’s lifespan up until this point.
How should you approach this conversation in a healthy way?
The best way you should approach this conversation is honestly and without defensiveness. Tell your parents that you and your longtime boyfriend whom you have developed a trusting relationship with (this is the ideal person to engage in sex with), have been talking about having intercourse and you want to be prepared. Ask your parents if they will fund a consultation visit to your OB/GYN to decide the best way to “protect” you not only from pregnancy but also from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Surely, your parents will want to keep you safe and protected.
How do you articulate your feelings and needs without feeling ashamed or nervous?
You have a personal history with your parents. “If” you have always been made to feel ashamed and uncomfortable there’s a high probability that you will still have those feelings. Find comfort in knowing this…adolescence parallels toddlerhood. Toddlers must claim themselves as separate beings from Mommy and Daddy by saying no, mine, and having normal temper tantrums. Teenagers must come out of adolescence having resolved the separation process so that as young adults they are able to have their own ideas, thoughts, opinions, and beliefs about life, relationships, love, sex, money, religion, morals, ethics, character, and people. Their opinions may or may not agree with their parents. That is growing up.
How do you prepare to handle your parents’ reaction?
Be sure not to rush the conversation. If it gets too heavy put a bookmark in it and tell your parents you’d like to pick it up after everyone takes a beat to get perspective. Bolster yourself with information and a good support system. Planned Parenthood is an excellent resource. There are many free or low-fee clinics for counseling and psychotherapy. Also, tell your best friend when you plan to talk with your parents so that they can be around and nearby if you need their support.