Annie Fox's Blog...

Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

I’m worried my mom will be disappointed I had sex with my boyfriend

May 28, 2016

Happy Saturday. Today we’re talking about teens and sex.

Hey Terra,

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?

Freaking Out

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.

In friendship,
Terra

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Teen girl: I wanna have sex to be over and done with it!

April 15, 2013

This morning’s email brought some of the usual questions from TeenWorld:

  • How do I stop being shy so I can make more friends?
  • Should I tell me bff that I kissed her bf?
  • My friend can be kinda mean, but my life wouldn’t be the same with out her. What should I do?
  • My parents accuse me of smoking and doing drugs. I don’t! How can I get them to trust me?

Be careful what you wish for

And then there was this one. Even though I’ve heard it before, somehow it felt new. I responded right away, but if that’s all I did only one girl would see it.  For something this important I decided to go bigger.

Girls, have a read. So when it comes to self-respect, relationships and sex, we can get clear on a few basics. If you’re a mom with a girl of your own,  you should read it too. (Just don’t go nuts and accuse your daughter of anything! Not helpful for keeping open the portals of trust and communication.)  And if you’re a teen guy or a dad, probably a good idea for you to read it too. Then you can think (and maybe even talk) about respect and relationships and the god’s honest truth that girls and guys don’t typically share a common perspective on sex and what it means.

Hey Terra,
A lot of my friends have lost their virginity and I really want to lose it and get it over and done with. This guy that I’ve known for ages but haven’t seen for a while wants me to come over tomorrow have sex with him. I want to, but I don’t know what the consequences are. A lot of people said you get attached and some don’t. I don’t know what to do. Can you please help me!!!

Wanna Lose it Already

Dear Wanna Lose It,

I don’t know if your friends are in loving, mutually respectful relationships (I sure hope so) but if what they’re doing is right for them, that doesn’t automatically make it right for you. You wrote to me for a second opinion. That indicates you’re wondering if having sex is the right move for you at this time.

You asked about the “consequences.” I don’t know how old you are or why you’re in such a hurry to not be a virgin any more. But I do know that sex isn’t something you do because you want it to be “over and done with.”  That makes sense if you’re talking about taking out the trash or working on a dreaded homework assignment. But when it comes to sex, getting it “over and done with” is wrong thinking that will lead to a lot of disappointment and  heartache.

Sex ought to be an act of love. If there isn’t mutual respect and trust, it’s just not good. Especially for girls. If your friends think of sex as something very casual that you do with just anybody, then it’s likely they will go from one sex partner to another, feeling crappy about themselves, empty and unloved.

Please do not follow in their footsteps.

As for the guy that you’ve know “for ages” who wants to have sex with you tomorrow. Don’t take that as a great offer or as a compliment. He wants to use your body so that he can have an orgasm. Afterwards, he will send you away and tell everyone what you let him do. Then his friends will text, saying they want to have sex with you too. Other girls will start talking about you. And if you do get “attached” to the first guy, he’ll make it very clear that he wants sex, not a relationship. All of this is going to make you feel horrible. And, on top of that, you might get pregnant. (Another very real consequence.)  You might also get a sexually transmitted disease.

But what you most certainly will NOT get, is a feeling of being loved and treasured. You deserve that. If you settle for less you’ll regret it.

I hope this helps you sort out your feelings so that you can make your own decisions. One that’s 100% right for you.

In friendship,
Terra

Filed under: Parenting,Teens — Tags: , , — Annie @ 1:07 pm
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Not under my roof: A conversation w/author Amy Schalet

November 16, 2011

For the past 14 years I’ve received email from t(w)eens around the world. 80% of them fictitiously sign their letters “Confused.” They’re confused about a whole lot of stuff, especially sex. It’s cool that they use their confusion as a motivator to ask questions of an adult (by most measures, that would be me). Otherwise, how are they going to understand what they need to know so they can make good choices?

Here’s one that came in last week from a young teen:

If a male only sticks the tip of his penis into a girls vagina, is it considered “having sex”?

The next day this one arrived:

I was walking with my partner and as a tease he held my leg from the top and I think his hand hit near my vaginal hole but he didn’t put his finger straight in and I moved. It was literally one second but I had my trousers on and it was just whilst I was walking. Any chance I can get pregnant with that? I’m very young and scared.

Required reading for 21st Century Parents

Don’t let their ignorance of mechanics distract you from the bigger picture: Too many t(w)eens seem to view sexual contact as a casual activity with no serious relationship or emotional closeness required. I fear those kids will have trouble developing bonds of real intimacy.

Last week’s Glee episode featured two in-love high school couples (one gay, one straight – all four teens were 12th graders), crossing the threshold in their long-term relationship and choosing to have sex for “The First Time.” Kudos to the writers for showing us characters sensitive to each other’s needs. Rarely on TV or in films do we see teens willing to put so much careful thought into decisions having to do with sex.

It got me thinking how American teens might make different choices if they had more role models for talking about sex with their partners… or even with their parents.

I know it sounds totally crazy to imagine teens having real conversations with their parents about serious relationships, but after reading Amy Schalet’s new book Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens and the Culture of Sex I learned the American way isn’t the only way. If we can agree the goal is to prevent teen pregnancy and to help older teens “navigate the challenges of sexuality and first relationships” then, generally speaking, American parents and educators are doing a lousy job.

As Schalet’s book thoroughly documents, Dutch parents have a more open attitude about sex education which results in Dutch teens having less casual sex and far fewer pregnancies. They also sneak around less and experience much less alienation from their parents during these years. Wow! I didn’t know there was an alternative to teen alienation. My view is tainted by emails from teens who don’t like lying to their parents and aren’t particularly enjoying random hook-ups or “friends with benefits” arrangements. Bottom line, they don’t seem to be having all that much fun doing the stuff they’re sneaking off to do and yet, they’re doing it anyway and not necessarily learning anything positive.

I was eager to talk to the Amy about Not Under My Roof. We had a great conversation which included many eye-openers. Check this out: When asked about their first sexual experience, a majority of American girls said: “I wish I had waited longer.” That indicates regret for whatever reason. There’s also a possibility that the girls felt pressured to have sex when they didn’t really want to. When Dutch girls were asked a similar question, 85% said: “We both wanted it. We chose it.”

Very interesting.

Here are my big takeaways from my conversation with Amy Schalet, “One narrative doesn’t fit all.” When we give our teens only one message we:

  1. Fail to give them the education/guidance/space they need to make responsible choices about their own sexual behavior.
  2. Build unnecessary walls between us and our kids based on deception and distrust and the false assumption that we can control their behavior.
  3. Prevent them from a basic understanding of what it means to “be ready” to have sex. This is something only the individual can determine but the parent can help with these guidelines:
    1. the partner is trustworthy
    2. the time you’ve had in the relationship thus far
    3. you and your partner have talked about having sex and what crossing that threshold means to each of you
    4. you both want to have sex
    5. you understand it will change the relationship. You’ve thought about and talked about how might it change your feelings for each other. How might it also change your expectations, your behavior, your agreements?

Some of you may feel that teen sex is never ok. If so, then you’re in agreement with the American cultural narrative of “Just don’t do it.” Even if that is your perspective, the teens in your life will still benefit from your talking with them about sex and relationships. They’ll also appreciate your listening to what they have to say. They need to hear your values because by 19 years of age, 70% of young people have had sex. That’s reality. Since that’s where they’re going, you want them making conscious, healthy choices.

btw, in addition to reading Amy’s book, you might also want to check out my interview on FoxNews.com where I talk about Teen Sex in the Family Home.

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Teen sex under my roof?! No/Yes/Maybe

July 22, 2011

Almost ready for my close-up - Annie Fox before FoxNews.com Live interview

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.

Annie Fox on FoxNews.com Live talking about teen sex in the family home

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):

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Filed under: Parenting,Tips — Tags: , , , , , , — Annie @ 6:01 pm
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