Having 'The Talk' With Your Teens
- Friday, February 06, 2009
If you are the parent of a teen and haven’t yet talked with him or her openly about God’s amazing plan for sexuality and the intimacy between a husband and wife, I’m afraid the current culture may have spoken in your place. In this age of ubiquitous sexual messages, I am surprised by how many parents still treat the subject of sex as taboo. If you don’t know what a “rainbow party” or “friends with benefits” means, then you may be out of touch with the world your teen lives in every day. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in 2007, 48% of high school students had had sexual intercourse, and 15% of high school students had had four or more sex partners during their life.
Tara is having an affair with one of the youth workers. Katie just found out she has an STI (sexually transmitted infection). Noel was date raped by a boy in the youth group. Several young men are addicted to Internet pornography, and Nathan is struggling with feelings of being gay. I wish I could say these were rare cases, but all these teens’ struggles occurred in one youth group (the names have been changed). The same situations are being played out across America – with different names, different faces, and different churches.
How can any young person be fed a steady diet of sitcoms, and movies glamorizing casual sex, one-night stands, sexualized parties and events, without being influenced? The heat in the pot of water has been rising year after year as we become desensitized to sexual material. The water is boiling and our kids are dying. In addition this barrage of data has almost zero negative consequences. Where is the “reality” in all this TV? When was the last time a character contracted an STI for example? The statistics are clear. Each year, there are approximately 19 million new STD infections, and almost half of them are among youth aged 15 to 24.
Serious times require serious measures. STIs among teens are going through the roof – the aforementioned statistic is at least five years old. This generation is facing a world that did not exist when you were their age. A clever enemy has distorted the old rules. Most Christian kids think that if they have oral sex they are still virgins, and the rules about what is appropriate keep changing.
Add to the mix, friends teaching friends about sex based on what little they know from the media. Most teens have had no, or minimal, input from responsible adults or parents. This is a recipe for failure and pain. Not just the physical damage, but psychological as well. Younger and younger teens are faced with emotional baggage too big for most adults to carry. Risky games in Jr. High end up as unplanned pregnancies, abortions, or life threatening illness.
Is panic starting to rise? It’s hard not to fear for our children, isn’t it? Do you love your teen? 1 John 4: 18 says, “…perfect love drives out fear.” It’s not too late to start talking to your son or daughter, but the sooner you begin the better. We have a wonderful alternative message they need to hear.
So, how do you begin? Here are a few suggestions I hope will help. Of course every family may have different tolerance levels. I encourage you to push the envelope. It is okay to be uncomfortable; be honest about it. Pray beforehand. Maybe even laugh together to release the tension.
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