A Top Ten List for Talking to Teens About…Well, You Know

1. Know yourself.
What are your expectations, your hopes, and your fears about your
teenager’s sexual and romantic development?  You’ll have far more
control over yourself and your interactions if you have a full
understanding of these things.

2. It’s not about you. Your
teenager is, in fact, discovering sex for the first time.  They don’t
want to hear about you and your sex life or your path to discovering
sex.  They want to talk about their current exciting, overwhelming
path.  So let them!  That’s how you’ll get to know your teenager – and
that’s now one of the primary goals of your parenting.  (If your
teenager directly asks you about your own experiences, well, that’s a
different matter for another time.)

3. Stop talking! As the parent of a teenager, you
are in the business of trying to get to know your teenager, not to give
information.  If you’re talking, you can’t hear anything your teenager
is trying to tell you.

4. Start listening! Stop
talking.  Start listening.  They’re different things, really.  Far too
many parents remember to stop talking, but they haven’t learned how to
really listen.  Remember what business you’re in?  And that can’t
happen if you don’t really, really listen.

5.  You only get one question. You’d better make
it a good one that can’t be answered with a yes or a no.  Feel free to
spend some time mulling over it.  You can ask it when you’re sure it’s
a good one.

6. Do something else.Anything
else.  Many teenagers, especially boys, will have an easier time
talking about sexuality and romance if you’re doing something “side by
side” like driving, walking, or playing a game rather than sitting and
looking at each other.

7. Pleasure and pain. You
have to talk about both.  If you don’t acknowledge the pleasure
associated with sexuality, you’re teenager will think you’re completely
out of touch.  And so you will be completely out of touch.

8. Be cool like a cucumber.
It is only when you manage to have a calm, loving demeanor that your
teenager will feel comfortable talking with you.  Avoid shutting your
teenager down by being angry, reactive, or opinionated at all costs! 
Because you’re in the business of getting to know your teenager.  The
only way to do that is if your teenager keeps talking.

9. Bring it on! Your
teenagers have tough questions.  Some of them quite specific and
technical.  If you’re able to answer these questions with honesty,
humor, and no judgment, your teenager will feel much more at home
coming to you with increasingly difficult emotional decisions.

10. Never surrender. There may be times you feel like quitting.  Like the millionth time
when you’ve tried to have an actual conversation with your teenager –
about anything, much less sex! – and your teenager has once again
completely avoided eye contact and has not even acknowledged your
existence.  But you can’t quit.  You’re still doing good by being
continually present, so keep going.  Trust me.

This post first appeared on Adolescent Sexuality, Dr. Karen Rayne’s blog.

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  • http://www.drjennforgirls.com invalid-0

    This was a good list. I want to add that there is a growing trend of girls who are very sexually aggressive.I call them Hyenas. (google spotted hyena) Parent MUST talk to their sons about their EMOTIONS regarding their virginity and sex life. Parents often fail to realize that our teen boys are more than just their “plumbing.” They have hearts and souls as we need to ask/listen about those elements. Male virginuty is overlooked in our culture. The guys I researched for me new book have begged me to please get a conversation started about this topic. SO, parents, please talk to your boys about their hearts! Don’t forget that in your list of things to talk about when you talk/listen about sex with your teen. And be sure to talk to your daughter to see if she is strong arming guys for sex! It’s a growing trend, with damage being done to both boys and girls. (its not right when guys do it, not right for girls either!)