By Kelly McCausey
Statistics tell us that about one million teenage girls will become pregnant this year. That is roughly 10% of all teenage girls between the ages of 15 and 19. Does that information make you think of your daughter and nine of her closest friends? Which one will it be?
No parent wants to believe that their teenage son or daughter are actually sexually active. Let's face it, we see our children through the eyes of Mommy and Daddy. We pick out the physical traits and behaviors that remind us of their childhood and often fail to spot the signs of growing sexuality.
Only one in five teenagers graduate from high school without having had some sexual experience whether that be intercourse or something nearly as intimate. So four out of five teens have reached at least 'third base'.
So how old are teens when they become sexually active?
It's earlier than you think. A recent Oprah episode featured a topic about sexually active 'tween'-agers. Kids in the 5th and 6th grade who have oral sex with one another.
The movie "Thirteen" blows the lid off of life in middle schools all across the country. It definitely makes you wonder just what makes some teen girls so popular?
Children are receiving multiple sexual messages every single day on televion, through their music, at school, in the movie theater and even through their video games. As parents, what can we do to make sure that our kids are getting OUR message?
You could homeschool. You could get rid of the television, the ipod, the game system and say "G" rated movies only! While there are a very small segment of parents who have done this, it isn't likely to happen in most households. Entire families - even Christian families - are addicted to popular media.
So what can you do to encourage your teen to just say no to sex?
Well, if you were doing your homework back when your teens were kids - you already opened up a line of clear communication about the issue. It should start when they are quite young. Use plain language to name body parts and answer questions about their purpose without embarrassment. This is your first opportunity to teach them that sex is a beautiful gift from God for the marriage bed. Usually, there will be enough follow up questions from the kids to provide several additional chances to affirm your message. But if they don't ask - you should look for ways to introduce the subject. A trip to the Zoo usually works. If you do this, when they are older it will be easier to continue to dialog.
Most public school systems begin 'Sex Ed' in the fifth grade. At this point it's time to start getting serious about your own education efforts. A smart parent will preview the curriculum and be prepared to discuss the contents with their kids - adding sound Godly teachings to it.
You should never have a conversation about sex without including the topic of marriage. Sex is for marriage - plain and simple. Marriage is a lifelong covenant relationship and sex is God's gift to the couple. Sex bonds them together in love, joy and passion.
The horrible trend among teenagers today is to look at sex as just another activity. Many don't feel any need to be in a relationship with someone they are going to have sex with. It's just 'hooking up' to pass the time.
Your message needs to be clear. Sex is for Marriage. Marriage is a lifetime coventant with God. Aside from your relationship with God - your spouse will be the most intimate and valuable relationship of your life.
In a culture that no longer models that lifetime relationship - it will be all the more important for you to do so. And if your own past decisions make that impossible - be willing to share your experiences and lessons learned. Be genuine about your mistakes and talk about ways that you could have made better choices.
Be prepared and have a vision for how you will parent your teenagers. Write a "Family Manifesto" that outlines clearly the expectations about friendships, sex, drugs, education, ethics, etc. Answer these important questions:
-When will your teens be allowed to date?
-Will you only allow group dates?
-What kind of activities are allowed?
-How Late? Is there a curfew?
-Is hand holding or kissing allowed? When?
-Are friends of the opposite sex allowed in bedrooms?
It is important to establish a crisis plan for your teens. If they are out with friends and find themselves in a risky situation - how can they get your help? Giving them a cell phone is a very good idea. The crisis plan should include a promise from Mom and Dad that they will be more grateful to have the chance to rescue them than they will be angry that they are in the situation in the first place.
Speaking of crisis situations. The topic of date rape needs to be covered. Up to 25% of teen girls who have had sex indicate that it was not completely consensual. The earlier the experience, the more likely that it was unwanted. Teach your daughters about date rape drugs and train her to recognize unsafe environments.
A girl who is becoming a woman needs to be constantly affirmed by her parents, grandparents and close friends that she is indeed valuable, precious and beautiful. Don't leave any compliment left unsaid. Equip her with self respect and she will be far less likely to be victimized by a predator and more likely to save herself for a future husband.
Boys who are becoming men need to be affirmed as well. They need to be reminded that they are growing in strength and it is their responsibility to care for, honor and protect women just as they will someday care for their wife.
Can you sex proof your teenager? You can do everything within your power, you can teach and pray and keep every line of communication open. In the end it will be your teenager's decision.
Teenage Sex Statistics referenced from http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/fb_teen_sex.html.
For more on the topic of talking with your teens about sex and dating, we recommend 'Talking to Your Teen about Sex" by Scott & Cheri Scheer. Available in print, on CD or as a digital download. www.familyministries.net
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