On a national average, there are over 100,000 pregnancies yearly to girls between the ages of 10-19. Unfortunately, these numbers continue to rise each year. It seems easier to close our eyes to the reality of teen sexuality, than to deal with the issue head on. Responsibly discussing sex with your teen daughter is not what ultimately makes her have sex. Being constantly bombarded with sexual images on television, in music videos, movies and other media, combined with the pressures of her peers to “prove” that she’s cool, is enough to tempt any normal teenage girl.
The “sex discussion” with your teenager is never easy, however, you can either have a discussion on pregnancy prevention, or a discussion on your her actual pregnancy. The decision is yours.
BUT: I’m Worried She’s Having Sex Now!
Okay, let’s be real a second. You know your teen girl better than anyone. Your intuition tells you what’s going on, even if your daughter doesn’t. We no longer live in the “good old days” when young girls waited until they were married and young boys, well…married a virgin (even though they weren’t a virgin…another topic for another time).
And honestly, I don’t know if there was ever a time in history when pre-marital sex among teens was not a problem, even if it was not openly discussed. Society seems to promote a perfect idea of teenagers living a sex-free life, but then continues to inundate them with commercials, magazines, television sitcoms and other media images that are filled with sexual innuendoes and images. What’s a poor girl to do? Don’t worry, I’m just being silly. I have found that when a young girl fails to have a discussion about sex with her parents or a counselor, she will turn to her friends for advice and counseling. And we all know how that goes.
During my work with teen girls over the past ten years, I have found that one thing is common among all young girls; they generally have sex for love’s sake or to be accepted by their peers. I have heard young girls say the following when attempting to justify their sexual activities:
- I was afraid he’d leave me and instead go to someone else if I didn’t have sex with him. [newsflash: he’ll probably go to someone else, whether she has sex with him or not!]
- He said he loved me and that if I loved him, I’d have sex. [hello!: guys have been using this one for YEARS, and somehow it still works!]
- I really love him! Anyway, what’s the big deal? [oh my!: let’s start with AID’s, STD’s, pregnancy, emotional wounds, need I say more]
- Everyone else is having sex! [not!: she THINKS everyone else is doing it. In actuality it’s easier for a person to brag about things aren’t doing in order to look cool than it is for them to honestly admit they aren’t having sex]
So, What Do You Do?
During the late 1990’s pop music icon Madonna, said it perfectly when she sang, oops! I didn’t know I couldn’t talk about sex. In the song, she challenged the idea that sex shouldn’t be openly discussed in our society. Whether you agree with her or not, the bottom line is that if you fail to discuss the topic of sex with your daughter, she will find someone else who will.
You must make it easy and comfortable for her to talk about sex with you. Help her understand that the mix of emotions that she’s experiencing are normal. Share with her your experiences during your teen years when you were curious, confused about your body and interested in the opposite sex. It may feel a bit uncomfortable for the both of you when you talk with her for the first time, but if you continue to have these conversations with her, she’ll eventually become comfortable enough to approach you with her questions, instead of someone else.
Don’t believe that if you don’t talk to your daughter about sex then she won’t think about it. You have to act as if she’s thinking about it right now, as you read this book. You MUST be proactive and include in your discussion a talk on the topic of LOVE! Not just sex, but love. You have to help her understand that there is a difference between the love you give yourself and the love you give to others. It is important that she understands what it means to truly appreciate and love her own body, so much so, that she holds dear the very thing that every other girl might just give away because they don’t understand the value of self. To have sex, some young men convince young women that sex equals love. A teen girl that believes she must show a young man that she loves him by having sex with him is a young woman that is definitely uncertain of the true meaning of love. If your daughter feels that her body is her temple that is worthy of her love, before anyone else, then she will think twice before giving her body away to someone else.
Remember, There Are Consequences
In addition to the potential hazards of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, there remains the problem of teen pregnancy. Many teen girls fail to take the consequences of pre-marital and unprotected sex seriously. They believe they are invincible and that catching a sexually transmitted disease, or getting pregnant, won’t happen to them.
To help teen girls understand the seriousness of pregnancy, I created a phase in my empowerment workshop called Stay with Me, Baby. I have each of the girls care for a mechanical baby for 24 hours. The babies are all computerized and have internal alarms that are set to go off when it’s time to feed the babies, change their diapers and put them to bed. The girls are also required to keep the babies with them at all times. Needless to say, the girls always come back to the workshop complaining that they don’t have any free time because the baby requires so much of their attention. Once the girls make that there is a substantial amount of responsibility and time required when caring for a baby. You basically give up your life as a teenager. It is always easier to place teenagers in positions where they can learn for themselves about the consequences of their actions, rather than telling them. Remember, teens already think they know everything and the last thing they want is their parent telling them what to do.
HIV/AIDS & STD’s
I coordinate field trips to visit HIV/AID centers and hospitals so that girls can see the price some people had to pay as a result of unprotected sex. The lesson is a harsh one, but one that needs to be taught. Try adopting this technique and visit hospitals with your daughter so that she can visualize for herself the consequences of having unprotected sex. And remember; whether you choose to talk about sex and its consequences or not, it will eventually become an issue in her life. Help her prepare for that moment now, so that you aren’t both regretting not talking about it later.