When your teen first begins to date, or before, it is beneficial for parents to talk to them about their family values where sex before marriage is concerned. It is also imperative that parents bring up all of the other issues that pertain to sex, such as things like STDs, teen pregnancy and dating violence.
Setting the Limits on Sex and Teen Dating
Understand that the interest in sex for a teenager is not simply something they thought up one day to put your parenting skills to the test. It is a natural instinct, a part of human behavior that comes along with puberty. To treat their interest any differently is to deny your teen a part of who they are - a part of their identity. It is more advantageous for the parent who wants to see their teen succeed to agree that having an interest in sex is healthy. But, what your teen does with that interest at this age could lead them into trouble and not be beneficial to their future.
It is important that you are able to talk to your teen about their sex life in a way that you can put any judgment you may have aside. This isn't because your family values aren't important - they are - but your teen also needs to know how important it is to be safe and healthy. They need to understand things like what protection from teen pregnancy means and how it differs from protection of STDs. They will respect that you are being straightforward with them, and therefore may listen to you more when it comes to your family's values.
If your teen is dating and you haven't done so already, it is time to set an appointment for them to see their doctor to talk about their sexual health. Boys can see their family physician, but girls should choose a OB/GYN. Even if they are not sexually active, this step will ensure that your teen is getting the correct information about their sexual health. Know that this appointment is private between your teen and their doctor, even from you. Be there to advise your teen, but hand over the reins of their sexual health to them.
You may feel that your teen is too young to take these steps - and perhaps they are. But if they are dating, there is a real chance that they could be having sex. Even if your teen swears that they are not, it doesn't matter. Taking them to their doctor is not saying that you don't believe your teen. It is saying that you want your teen to handle their physical sex life with maturity - whenever it happens!
What Do You Do If You Catch Your Teen and Their Date in the Act?
How embarrassing would that be, right? Very embarrassing, let me tell you. While I never had that happen in my home, it did happen at the teen home where I worked. And, after the initial shock and everyone was dressed, it became a discipline problem that was taken care of with a few more limits set. Not much different then other teen behaviors.
Along with seeing the need for more limits, the incident opened more doors for me to talk to both teens, mine and their girlfriend, about what it means to be in such a serious relationship, were they using protection and did they understand that they could end up creating a child? Asking the tough questions is a good way to get your teen to think.
Parents, in this day and age you have to recognize that your teenager may engage in sex. Be prepared and help your teen know what they need to know to make responsible decisions with their sex life and sexual health.