May 28, 2016
Happy Saturday. Today we’re talking about teens and sex.
I’m worried about telling my mom about have sex with my boyfriend. I think she’ll be fine with it but I don’t want her to be disappointed because I’m young, what shall I do?
It’s not a four letter word
Dear Freaking Out,
You’re not alone here. For the record, no matter how old we are, there’s always a part of us that craves Mom’s approval. Just saying.
Now let’s talk about you. You say you think your mom will “be fine” with it, but you don’t want her to be “disappointed” in you because you are young. Without getting into a debate about “How young is too young to have sex?” I’ll say this: I hope you used protection, the sex was a positive experience, and you have no regrets about it. That’s the best anyone can expect.
You can’t change your age (obviously) and your mom is likely to find out about it anyway, so the question is: How important is it to tell her? If it is very important, then you might say something like this, “Mom, you know that ______ and I love each other. He and I have had lots of serious conversations about sex and recently we decided that we were both ready to have sex. And we did. I just wanted you to know.”
Then close your mouth and listen to what she has to say. She may be upset or disappointed. She may be happy for you. She may have already assumed you two were having sex so your news won’t be a big deal. Her reaction is not the key factor here. The most important thing is whether you feel good about your decision. It’s not your job in life to make sure everyone around you is happy with everything you do. That would be living your life for them. This is your life. Live it in a way that makes you proud of who you are.
I hope this helps.
February 28, 2014
I wanna hold your hand and…
Friday is Family Confidential day. Before you race over and check out my latest podcast (Having “The Talk” with Tweens with Marlene Mahurin, co-founder of the online parent-tween sex education course, Time for the Talk) let me tell you why I wanted to interview a sex educator.
I’ve been answering teen email questions for almost 17 years. A lot of them are about sex. Like these:
- All of my friends have their periods except me. What’s wrong with me??
- Does having sex make your breasts bigger?
- Can you get pregnant swallowing cum?
- This girl and I didn’t expect to have sex, but it just sort of happened. Is it possible she might be pregnant?
- My best friend who has been like a brother to me just told me that he is gay. I was shocked and just got up and left. I don’t know what to say to him.
- My bf and me are 14 and we’ve already been dating for two years. I’m ready to have sex with him but all my friends are saying no and I’m not ready. I feel like I’m ready. What should I do?
- My friend is eleven, started her period and might have had unprotected sex with her boyfriend. She says she’s pregnant and I am worried if she keeps the baby she may not know how to be healthy when you’re pregnant.
- My mom walked in on me playing down there. She’s been real mean to me since then. She calls me a slut and a whore. I tell her that I’m not having sex or anythings, but she doesn’t believe me.
They say, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” That might be true, occasionally, but when it comes to teens, what they don’t know about sex, puberty, sexual orientation, can and often does hurt them.
Your kids are getting a sex education all the time, from the media, the internet and their clueless friends. It’s probably not be the education you want for them. Do yourself and your kids a favor, listen to the podcast, Having the Talk with Tweens. so you can feel more comfortable talking to your kids about sex.
July 22, 2011
Almost ready for my close-up
Tuesday morning was not typical. Before 8 o’clock I had my professional act in gear (make-up, hair, couture… such as it is) and took my show on the road. Twenty miles south, David and I pulled up to FoxNews.com’s San Francisco studio and into a parking spot six steps from the front door.
I’d been invited to Fox (no relation) to offer my expert opinion about the choice of some parents to permit their teens to have sex in the family home. What did I think about this trend? Truthfully, I hadn’t heard about it. But I take these assignments seriously so I did my research. Rule of thumb: If you’re going to put yourself out there as someone who knows what she’s talking about, it’s best to try to sound like you know what you’re talking about.
Here’s a 6 min clip of my interview with Jonathan Hunt, a thoughtful interviewer with good questions, a good sense of humor, and good listening skills.
In case you’d rather read than watch the video (though you can do both for the same ridiculously low price… free) here’s the big take-away:
Parents are hard-wired to keep their kids safe. Any hint of a threat to the young ‘un and our inner Mama or Papa Lion instantly reacts. No thinking involved, which is kinda perfect since over-analyzing in an emergency can get in the way of surviving. But not everything parents perceive of as threatening is actually a threat and an over-the-top reaction can be counter-productive. (Like when you encourage your teen to come to you with any questions and when they ask about sex or drugs, you totally freak out thus shutting down all conversation and insuring (s)he won’t be coming back to you with important stuff any time soon.)
Thankfully our brain also specializes in rational thought. The long-term, rational approach to parenting says our #1 objective is to raise a fully functioning independent young adult. That’s why we’ve got to teach our kids to analyze situations. And to make healthy choices. That’s the only way they can keep themselves safe when we’re not around, which is going to account for most of their lives unless you’re planning on having them live with you forever, in which case we need to talk.
Mr. Hunt quoted this statistic: “By their 19th birthday 70% of young people have had sexual intercourse.”
Translation: They’re going to do it anyway, so why not let them do it in the family home rather than a car or in the park, since it’s safer? Or do you think that’s just off-the wall?
There are enough Parent Police out there judging the way other folks raise their kids and I’m not going to join the squad. How you, as a parent, educate your children about sex is a personal decision. But, the reality is; older teens will be doing it.
Wherever you stand on this issue, here’s my advice (again free for the taking):
- Talk about relationships rather than just the “yes” or “no” of teen sex. Talk about sex in context of a relationship, rather than hooking up. If you don’t know where you stand on teen sex or you’re conflicted, that’s honest. Tell your teens that. But remember that you have a leadership role. If you want to transmit your thoughtful values to your teen (as opposed to “Just say no.”) then spend some time thinking about what those values are and why you hold them.
- It’s not just one talk. Have a series of conversations. Treat teens with respect. Talk less and listen more. That’s the only way you can find out where they are coming from, what assumptions they have about relationships, etc. There are endless opportunities to have conversations while you’re watching TV, after a movie, reading the news, listening to song lyrics, etc. It’s very important that the parent’s voice is in a teen’s head. You’re not going to be the only voice in there, but you want to be part of the mix and parental influence is powerful.
- Be realistic. Sex is part of life for adults and for older teens. In the context of a healthy relationship (the only kind worth having) it’s a joy. Parents who are in denial about teens and sex remain silent and their teens remain uninformed. Some people believe that talking to teens about sex encourages them to become sexually active… right now! Just the opposite is true. Studies show that teens whose parents provide them with reliable information actually wait longer to have sex and are more likely to use protection when they do have sex.
At some point, your teen will decide that (s)he’s ready to have sex. You want the decision to be made from a basis of self-knowledge and information coupled with values. You also want that information and those values to come from you. If you don’t talk to your teens about sex and healthy relationships (mutual trust, respect, etc.), where do you imagine they’ll get their information and values from? Probably from their clueless friends. Not a comforting thought.
January 27, 2011
Love can make you crazy and blind. It can (temporarily) mess with your IQ and confuse you into thinking that something destined to make things worse is going to help a romance. When it comes to Bf/Gf situations, I define “worse” as: more stressful, more hurtful, more confusing, more frustrating, and in all ways less awesome.
When you’re so “in love” you can’t think straight, don’t try. Instead STOP, get your hands off the cell phone (or anything else that’ll connect you to social media) and take a whole bunch of slow deep breaths. Then, after you’ve calmed down and cleared your head a bit, if you’re still very confused about your next best move, then reach out to someone you trust and talk things over with them.
That’s exactly what this girl did when she emailed me about getting dumped by her boyfriend.
I have a boyfriend who just broke up with me. I really love him and want him back, but he told me that he don’t want me. Please Terra I’m begging! I really want him and me to work out. I don’t want to lose him. I want him back. HELP!!!
Dear Confused Angel,
You say “I don’t want to lose him.” Fair enough, but sweetheart, he’s already gone. The guy makes his own choices. Same as you. Speaking of choices, why would you choose to be with a guy who doesn’t want you? That makes no sense. You know what happens when girls are desperate to “get him back”? They often end up doing stupid things they’re not ready for and/or really don’t want to do, just to keep the guy around. (You know what I’m talking about.) And then, after the girl does the stuff she’s not proud of, you know what happens next? The guy dumps her a second time because while he might have enjoyed the sex, he wasn’t into the relationship. Which is what he said the first time he dumped her!
Look, Angel, I understand how much it can hurt when the person you love doesn’t feel the same way about you. I’ve been there. More than once. But you can’t force someone to love you. That isn’t how it works.
You are a beautiful, radiant, powerful, young woman and you deserve to be with someone who wants you as much as you want him. If your ex bf doesn’t love you and doesn’t want to be with you then he is NOT the right guy for you!
I hope this helps straighten out your head a bit.
P.S. Don’t call or text him.