I have been working with teenagers for almost 20 years now, which means that I’ve seen multiple generations of teens and one thing I know is that they all say the same things when it comes to talking about sex with their parents.
Oh sure, some things change from year to year, but basically, 14-year-olds today are saying the same things I heard 14-year-olds say in 1990. For parents whose children will soon be teenagers, here’s my best guess at what your kids are going to say, too.
They really want to talk to you about sex, but they are convinced you won’t be “cool” enough to handle it. They will throw out several provocative comments to see how you respond and if you freak out, freeze, lecture, yell, blow them off, laugh, or start to cry, that’s where the potential discussion will end. They’ll go get information from someone they see as much more mature, someone they think can handle talking about sex, which will typically mean another 8th grader.
They really want to talk to you about sex, but they are worried that if they admit to being curious, they’ll end up grounded for the rest of their lives. Again, they’ll throw out some shocking statements to see how you respond and if you joke around about locking them in a cage until they are 21, or threatening their next date with a shotgun, that also will be the end of the possible discussion. They’ll satisfy their curiosities the good ol’ fashioned way, by just trying them out.
Although they do want to talk to you, they are pretty sure it’s been so long since you’ve had sex that you probably don’t even remember what it was like. In their minds, sex is for young people and that does not include you. If you spend time trying to convince them of your continued sexual prowess, you’re not only going to make them want to puke, but you’ll also guarantee they will never bring the subject up with you again. They’ll seek answers at gatherings of young people, like sleepovers and keg parties.
Although they may be willing to concede that you have had sex and may know a thing or two about it, they are also very aware that sex is simply not the same now as it was when you were young, which was, in their minds, very very very long ago. Granted, the physical act of sex hasn’t changed in thousands of years, but societal norms and values sure have. You have to concede that things are different today or you will lose the opportunity to speak with your teens at all. Things that kids are doing today shock their parents, but things that those same parents did shocked their parents, too. It’s the same, every generation. Each generation has it’s own new twist on things that make the older folks cringe. The stuff they’re doing isn’t any more disturbing than the stuff you did – just ask your folks.
Parents, your teens want to talk to you about sex. If you want to be their “go-to” person when it comes to sexual topics, you will want to curb your emotional responses, calm down, and do more listening than talking when the subject arises. Do your best not to pass judgment, provide answers, or give advice unless you are specifically asked for your opinion. If you have trouble keeping your mouth shut, please remember that if you screw this up, they will simply seek information and guidance elsewhere.
Dr. Marlo Archer is a licensed psychologist specializing in working with kids, teens, and their families. She can be reached at www.DrMarlo.com or 480-705-5007. Follow Down To Earth Enterprises on Facebook or DrMarloArcher on Twitter.