man and woman sitting together

If you and your teenager have not talked much about sexuality issues before, there’s no better time than now to start. You hold the key to your family values so you need to decide how to impart them to your child. Just get talking. Your child does want to know what you think as a parent. But whether they agree with you or not is another matter. Be prepared that views may differ.

What Shall I Talk About?

what to talk about with teenager

Share your thoughts, experiences and wisdom. Believe it or not, your children do want to know what you think as a parent. But, whether they agree with you or not, is another matter.

  • Talk about relationships – are they really emotionally ready for one? Or is it just an attraction, an infatuation or peer pressure to get attached?
  • Help your child to understand and see the difference between love and sex. Being ‘in love’ does not equate to ‘making love’. Love takes time and involves trust, respect and commitment. You can love someone and not have sex with him or her. Share your views on the causes and consequences of premarital sex.
  • Help your child understand the importance of preventing an unwanted pregnancy and the social, moral and ethical issues that come with dealing with such a situation.
  • Share with your teen the risks of contracting sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS but steer clear of fear tactics.
  • Build self-esteem – there’s nothing more important than helping your teen feel good about him- or herself. And that goes beyond being attractive or popular. Help your teen discover his or her inner strengths and qualities

Related Link: Help Your Child Cope With Puberty and Self-esteem

Differences Between Love and Infatuation

difference between love and infatuation

It is important that your child understands issues such as love, infatuation, desire and attraction. Explain the difference between love and sex.

Infatuation, sexual attraction and desire are often mistaken for love. Teens get confused and assume that having sex is the same as ‘making love’. They mistakenly presume that being attracted to each other is the same as being ‘in love’. It is fueled by sexual desire and gratification, and it takes precedence over other aspects of the relationship.

Love is not just a feeling, it is a culmination of friendship, and takes time to grow and develop. It is a committed relationship, one that involves trust, support, and acceptance of each other’s shortcomings.

Related Link: Forming New Friendships

Sexual Abuse and Violence

sexual abuse and violence

Dating violence includes psychological or emotional aggression such as controlling behaviours or jealousy; physical violence, such as hitting or punching; and sexual violence such as nonconsensual sexual activity or rape.

Your child can be a victim or the perpetrator of dating violence. Speak to your child and make sure he or she understands clearly what constitutes sexual violence and abuse. If you suspect your child has been abused, report it to the authorities immediately.

Safe Dating

safe dating

Teen dating can be healthy and safe if precautions are taken. Share these safe-dating tips with your teen to protect themselves against date rape or uncomfortable situations.

  • Encourage your child to start with group dates
  • Make it clear why he or she should avoid being alone with someone you or they don't know well
  • Do not go to isolated or dark places (e.g. someone’s house when nobody is around or quiet parks)
  • Stay aware and sober, which means avoid drinking alcohol or taking drugs
  • Teach your child to express his or her feelings clearly and emphatically and say “No”, if she or he is uncomfortable at any point
  • Teach your child to set limits before any sexual expression takes place - even kissing
  • Help your child to understand that there is no obligation for sexual favours on a date
  • Your child must know it is not OK to force any sexual behaviour on anyone
  • The most important and yet one of the simplest way to avoid sexual abuse is to walk away if your date tries to force inappropriate behaviour on you

Teenagers should be encouraged to delay sexual activity for as long as possible. Abstinence is the only 100% effective method for avoiding unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS. However, even when your child has decided to practice abstinence, you should still need to provide accurate information about condoms in the event he or she changes his/her mind later.

Related Link: My Choice: 18 and Still a Virgin

Understanding the Consequences of Teenage Sex

understanding the consequences of teenage sex

Help your child to understand that there may be long-term physical, emotional, social and legal consequences. It’s good to know these consequences so that you can engage in a meaningful discussion with your teenager.

Physical consequences

There is the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV/AIDS. Pregnancy has its own associated physical risks e.g. miscarriage, an onset of high-blood pressure, etc.

Emotional consequences

There can be feelings of guilt, fear, self-hatred, or pain of being taken advantage of and being used by the other party for sex. This can impact on the person’s self-esteem, and result in other risk-taking behaviours in future e.g. self-harm, smoking, alcohol or drug abuse, etc.

Social consequences

Hanging on to a soured relationship because of sexual involvement or marrying the wrong person because of an unplanned pregnancy are some consequences to think about.

Legal Consequences

Having sex with a girl below 16 years of age with or without her consent is illegal in Singapore. The guy can be charged in court and sentenced to either jail or caning (or both). Having sex with a girl below 14 years old with or without her consent is considered as statutory rape, and is an offense with jail-time or caning (or both) as punishment.

The law can also punish teenage parents who abandon their babies. They can be fined or jailed.

Abortion

Engage in a discussion with your teenager on the facts, your feelings and controversies surrounding abortion. It is a sensitive issue. Individual views are influenced by religious convictions, personal values, or life experiences. Do not let the discussion turn into a debate or an attempt to challenge or change your child’s views.

Instead, use this as an opportunity to simply listen and talk.

Related: Preventing Pregnancy with Contraception

What If Your Teen Gets Pregnant or Gets Someone Else Pregnant?

Of course, you will feel anger and disappointment. Stay calm and discuss all options with your child, whether to keep or to abort the pregnancy. Do take into account your family circumstances and values.

  • If you are unable to handle your emotions, seek professional help. You may approach a counsellor, who will help to work through this situation with you and your teen.
  • If your daughter is under 16 years of age and decides to abort the pregnancy, be aware that she will be required to go through mandatory pre-abortion counselling before the abortion can be carried out.
  • If it is your son, highlight to your son that he will need to take responsibility for his actions. You should try as much as possible to have empathy and help the girl and her family.

STIs

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are caused by viruses and bacteria during sexual contact through the exchange of bodily fluids such as semen, vaginal fluid, and blood. Not all STIs display obvious signs and symptoms. Hence infections can be spread unknowingly. If you suspect your teenager is at risk, do send him or her for a check-up.

Some of the sexually transmitted infections are:

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Genital Herpes
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Syphilis
  • Hepatitis B

Keep Talking

Your teen may rebel, may not want to hear what you have to say, or he/she may disagree. But continue to make the effort to reach out. Cultivate trust; be honest and upfront about your views and decisions. And always be present for them when they need help, or simply just to talk.

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