Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Should you let your teenage son try beer?

 

 

 

A few nights ago, my 16-year-old son came home from his summer job late at night and found my older son’s friend at our home drinking beer. I heard my son asked the older boy to let him try his beer. “It’s almost midnight. You don’t need to drink beer right now,” I told him.

At that moment, I was torn.

If I made a big deal about my son trying beer, I felt like he would want to do it even more, and even be sneaky about it. But at the same time, I didn’t want to encourage it. So I made it about the time of night, rather than the bigger issue of trying beer.

To be honest, I really don’t know what to say to teenagers about alcohol. We know that most teenagers will NOT wait until they are 21 to drink.  Personally, I think the drinking age should be 18 because most teens are drinking at that age  anyway.

I love wine and have offered my kids to try different types of wine when I am drinking it. I don’t want alcohol to seem like forbidden fruit. I  have found it is  easy to have a conversation about drinking and driving with teenagers than not drinking at all. I have told my kids to call me, or a friend or Uber if they have been drinking, particularly my two kids now in college. I have also had the conversation about the dangers of a fake ID and how police in some cities give out tickets for Minors in Possession of alcohol. (MIPs)

But what do you say to a teenager in high school, which is a time when parties usually involve alcohol? I have never really wanted to make a big deal to my sons about drinking beer because I know for most teenage boys it is going to happen.

I find when parents forbid their teens to drink or try alcohol, their kids often become sneaky about it. I have seen that firsthand. When my older son was still in high school, his friend slept over. During the night, they both got into my husband’s  beer. The next morning when his mother came to pick him up, she proceeded to tell me that her son doesn’t drink and is still a “good” kid and she plans to keep him that way. I felt awful.

When I talked with my son about it, he insisted it was his friend who repeatedly insisted they drink the beer. Again, I tried not to make a big deal about it because my son did tell me what had happened and said he wanted to try beer in a situation in which he didn’t have to drive and  it wasn’t socially awkward. He never really drank again during high school.

However, I know some parents don’t care at all if their teens drink in high school and are happy their kids are invited to the cool parties with the cool crowd that drinks.

Clearly, teenage drinking is an area where parents struggle – and differ widely on their approach. I am wondering what kind of conversations you have had with your teens. Do you forbid underage drinking? Do you accept that it’s going to happen and set some guidelines? I  would love to hear how other parents handle teenage drinking.

 

 

How to know if your teenager needs a life coach?

Over the years, when one of my three teens has driven me crazy, I have wondered if he or she could benefit from a life coach. Plenty of adults are hiring  life coaches, but I have never really been certain  what a life coach could do for a teenager. So when Dr. Jaime Kulaga, a licensed mental health counselor and certified life coach, offered to write a guest blog, I thought it was a great idea

First, let’s get to know Dr. Kulaga. She is  an  undergraduate psychology degree from The University of Tampa and a doctorate from Capella University. She also is the author of The SuperWomans Guide to Super Fulfillment .  Dr. Kulaga has  two boys,  7 and 10 (not teens yet, but she’s getting close). She works with many teens in her coaching practice.

Here are Dr. Kulaga’s tips to help you know if a life coach would be helpful for your teen:

4 Reasons Your Teen Could Benefit from a Life Coach

  1.  A Coach gives teens someone to talk to.

Teens are going through so many changes. They are finding their unique identities, trying to fit in, all while the hormones are going crazy and they are dealing with the balance of parents and friends. Even the best of the best teens need an outlet other than friends to talk to.

The Fix

A Life Coach can help you to be preventative with your teen. Don’t wait until your teen starts acting out, becomes rebellious, or depressed before sending them to a professional. Instead, recognize that this is a tough time in a child’s life.  A Life Coach can be an outlet for the teen to talk about goals, friends and even run ideas by someone professional, yet unbiased. However, if an area of concern does come up, it will be caught quickly, talked through and worked on before it gets too overwhelming or out of control.

  1. A Coach teaches teens to set goals.

Giving teens direction, goals and visualizations about their future can empower them during a time in life where they can easily lose focus and get distracted. During this time in life, adolescents can be very self-centered and place a major focus on friends. While teens should focus on growing their identities and maintaining a social life, they also need to be able to understand the importance of their future selves.

The Fix

A Life Coach will heighten a teen’s awareness of his  future, discuss goals, plans for work/college and dreams. A coach will also help set smaller goals and SMART goals. These are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound. Often, teens set very basic goals that are not specific and measureable and are less likely to achieve them. A Life Coach will make sure that your teen has specific goals with a plan.

 

  1. A Coach teaches teens accountability.

Teens must understand the importance of responsibility in the real world. Accountability also teaches integrity, or doing what you say you will do. Being responsible, accountable to your actions and having integrity can open an adolescent’s mind, doors to more opportunity and overall success.

The Fix

A Life Coach is all about holding people accountable. A Life Coach sets goals with your teen during each session. The next time the teen meets with the coach, he does a complete run down of the goals set the session before. Together, they discuss why certain goals were and were not met. There needs to be an explanation for why goals were not met. Excuses are acknowledged, but not supported. Instead, the Life Coach will help analyze what the teen could have done differently to reach the goal. This process builds up basic skills like comprehension and application as well as more advanced skills like analysis, synthesis and evaluation. This analysis can help highlight procrastination issues, confidence problems, barriers with willpower, toxic relationships and other issues.

  1. A Coach instills confidence.

It is no secret that in any decade of life, confidence is an asset that can increase opportunity, ability and desire to take leaps and achieve success. During the adolescent years, confidence is being built and is at a very fragile stage. A teen who is constantly taking a beating emotionally in this stage in their lives, may have poor self-confidence that runs far into adulthood.

The Fix

A Life Coach works with teens to highlight their strengths and challenge them to play off these strengths in order to achieve goals. The more a teen can see his strengths, the more confidence he will have in his abilities. This confidence often impacts the colleges choices, friends choices and  relationships  with their parents. Teens are also taught how to build confidence without it being at the expense of others, which reduces bullying. A Life Coach educates teens on how to be confident in saying no to people and activities that are not in line with their bigger vision and goals. Adolescents learn valuable tools for building confidence, like time management, increasing willpower, how to have an open and positive mindset, having a healthy self-image, and setting boundaries.

 

If you have more questions about how a life coach could help your teen, feel free to reach out to Dr. Jaime Kaluga.

Dr. Jaime Kulaga, PhD, LMHC, Life Coach
Dr. Jaime (www.drjaimek.com)

Welcome New Subscribers to RaisingTeensBlog

A big welcome to the flood of new subscribers we have had in the last week!

We are thrilled to be building a community of parents of teenagers who can share experiences and support each other.

We started this blog in 2017 when we were first confronting those big kid issues other parents had warned us about. Now we are somewhat seasoned but still, there is never a dull moment when you are raising teens.

We encourage all of you to join the conversation, through guest blog posts, comments and interaction on our social media platforms.

We are on Facebook at RaisingTeensUS , 

We are on Twitter at @RaisingTeensUS

We are on Instagram @RaisingTeens

We look forward to interacting with all of you. If you would like to read some of our popular blog posts from the past, here are a few you might like:

Should a teen sleep over a boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s house?

Should there be text-free zones?

Let’s Call them Generation Strike a Pose

Does Taking Away Your Teen’s Cellphone Really Work as Punishment?

Where should teen sex take place?

Last night we talked about teen sex at dinner. It was awkward and my son turned to me and asked, “Can we please stop talking about this?” But we couldn’t. At least, I couldn’t. I had a disturbing conversation with a friend earlier in the day and I wanted to talk about it with my kids.

A friend told me about a 16-year-old who has been having sex with his girlfriend on a park bench almost every day.  She asked me what I thought about it.  I told her I thought it happens A LOT — especially during summer. But I also told my friend I think there is a case to be made for letting your teen have sex with his girlfriend or boyfriend in their bedroom.

Many years ago, I overheard a mother telling her friend that her daughter and her boyfriend had sex often in her daughter’s bedroom. Her friend seemed shocked. To be honest, I was kind of shocked, too. Maybe it was because my kids were young at the thought of  teen sex hadn’t really been something I had given much thought.

Now, I am thinking a lot about where teens should have sex.

Should teen sex happen the park, in a car, or at some other public venue?

If you haven’t heard the latest news story about teen sex, here’s what has the Internet  buzzing:  Four teenagers are facing charges of disorderly conduct by after they were accused of having sex on a Cape Cod beach on the Fourth of July as crowds looked on and shouted USA, according to news reports.

Oddly enough, I read about this situation right after a friend asked me whether she should buy condoms for her 16-year-old son.  She wasn’t sure if he was sexually active, but she thought he was at the age where she should have them available. Now, I know there are mixed feelings about providing protection and encouraging your teen to have sex, but personally I don’t want my teens to put themselves in a risky situation.

A few years ago, I walked into my neighborhood clubhouse and found a teen couple having sex on the couch. At the time, I thought: “At least they are inside where they are somewhat safe!”

I hate the idea of my kids having sex at random public places like beaches or parks, but I am realistic that this kind of teen behavior happens frequently.

Online comments on news sites about the two teen couples having sex on the Cape Cod beach are mixed. Some people believe the teens were just having fun and should have been left alone by the police. Others are horrified that the teens would be having sex on a public beach with families nearby.

While the teens didn’t exactly use good judgment, I don’t think they should have been arrested for disorderly conduct. A warning would have been enough.

So  the question I have for my fellow parents is this: What if you know your teen is sexually active? Should you make it easy and safe for them to have sex by allowing them privacy at your home? If not, are you taking a chance that your kid will be the one causing an incident on the beach on the Fourth of July?

Why I’m Giving My Teen A Curfew

 

It’s a Friday night at 1 a.m.,  I’m exhausted and my daughter isn’t home yet. She is out with friends and tonight she’s the driver. I want to go to sleep. In fact, I’m in my jammies under my covers, but my eyes won’t shut. I’m thinking about that proverbial ditch that parents think their children are in when it’s late at night and they haven’t returned home.

Yes, I know what you are thinking. Why don’t you track your daughter with a cell phone locator? You were thinking that, right? The truth is I did track her and I know she is still out with her friends in the hopping area of town about 20 miles away. Here’s the thing… I haven’t given my daughter a curfew since she arrived home from college, and now as I lie awake, I’m rethinking the whole curfew thing.

Actually, this summer, the teen curfew has been on my mind A LOT.

A week ago, my youngest son got his driver’s license. By law in Florida, new drivers under 16 must be home by 11 p.m. What a blessing for this law!! Because most of my son’s friends who drive are 16, too, I have temporary relief from late nights awake, waiting up for him to arrive home. But in just a few months, some of my son’s friends are turning 17, and that means their driving curfew by law gets pushed to 1 a.m.

I just don’t want my son out that late. When my fellow blogger Raquel and I chat about our experiences raising teens, we have often discussed how nothing good happens on the road after midnight. I tell my kids often that anyone on the road after midnight probably shouldn’t be on the road. Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t be soooo dramatic…not everyone on the road late at night is crazy or drunk, but the chances are much higher.

Informally, I’ve been polling other parents of teens, asking them how they handle the curfew situation. I’ve gotten a mixed bag of answers. My one friend sets her alarm to wake up at the time her teen is supposed to be home. Another gives her teen a curfew depending on the radius he is away from home. Another has a curfew set in stone and he enforces it strongly. My sister, who has two teen boys, keeps a certain light on in the house and she knows everyone is home safe when she wakes up and sees the light off.

When I think back on my teen years, curfew brings back memories of negotiation —  begging for more time. My sister and I even devised a plan where we would set the clock back to our curfew time before waking our mother up to let her know we were home safe.  At least I’m now on to that trick as a parent!

While by law my son has to abide by the 11 p.m. curfew as a driver, I have decided to give him a midnight curfew when he isn’t the driver.  I searched around a little online for some guidance. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends 12 to 13 years old should have a  10 p.m. curfew on weekends and 14 to 16 years old should have an 11 p.m. curfew. There’s not a whole lot of guidance after that. The  experts recommend setting a curfew regardless of age because it sets clear boundaries for your teen. But here’s the important part — If you set a curfew, you have to enforce it!

In their book “Raising Resilient Children,” Dr. Sam Goldstein and therapist Robert Brooks say the consequences should fit the crime and teens should be aware of the rules and consequences in advance.

Here are a few dos and don’ts of teen  curfews that experts recommend on healthline:

Dos

Communicate. Involve your teen in the initial curfew discussion and mention the agreed upon time before they leave the house. Make it clear that if there is an issue, you expect a call before the curfew.

Be reasonable. Make the curfew based on the event and be aware of who’s driving, where they are going, and the transportation issues. Sometimes, a teen who is a passenger can’t demand the driver take them home by a certain time.

Don’ts

Negotiate. After agreeing upon a time, stick to it. If curfew is broken, there should be consequences.

Overlook good behavior. If your teen shows reliability over a period of time, you might want to consider extending  the curfew a half hour.

While I plan to take those dos and don’ts into consideration, I have pretty much decided my weekend nights will never be the same with teens in the house. (Please ignore the bags under my eyes!) I just can’t sleep tightly until everyone is home and that means there is going to be a lot of negotiation and exhaustion. (Did I mention my husband sleeps soundly regardless of who is still out?) I think setting a midnight curfew for my 16-year-old son when he isn’t driving is a step in the right direction — at least for now.

I’d love to hear your experiences setting a curfew. Any dos and don’ts you can share?

A Dad’s Perspective on Helping Teen Boys Reach Their Potential

Are you a frustrated parent  whose teen boy comes across as lazy or too busy with video games to give you his attention?

In honor of Father’s Day, we have a guest blogger who is a dad and a psychologist with a practice in New York City and New Jersey. If you’re a father (or mother) of a teen boy, Dr. Adam Price offers some extremely helpful tips for averting clashes with your son, especially during the summer months. I hope you find his insight as useful as we do.

–Cindy and Raquel (moms of teen boys)

The first things that comes to mind about boys and summer is to let them enjoy it. I often get concerned when parents say they want to make sure their sons’ don’t lose ground over the summer, and enroll them in academic enrichment courses, test prep courses, etc. There are some wonderful programs at college for students, but it has to be something the teen wants to do.

Kids are under so much pressure these days, and I really think they need time to decompress. That being said, they still need structure and supervision. A few weeks of sleeping late and lazing around is ok, but a few months is too much.

A summer job can be a great opportunity for a young man to take responsibility, feel effective in something other than school, and learn a little about ‘real life.’ So many boys I have worked with who have struggled in school really thrive at a job, even if it is scooping ice cream or working construction. If no job is available perhaps parents can pay their son’s to take on a project at home. One summer a friend and I painted my parent’s house. Not my favorite summer, but it worked out.

Depending on a family’s budget there are also many wonderful opportunities for travel, camp, etc. However, colleges are less impressed by a teenager whose parents paid for them to travel the world than one who went on a church-sponsored community service trip. One young man I worked with went on a Habitat for Humanity program and learned that some of the families he worked with lived on less money than his parents gave him each month.

If you are pushing your son this summer and he comes across as lazy,  you must realize that the phenomenon that presents itself as teenage apathy can have many sources, including adolescent psychology, parenting styles, family dynamics and sometimes learning disabilities. Laziness is not on the list. Calling your son “lazy” will only make him more oppositional than he already is. Here are a few other parental habits worth breaking (and summer is a great time to start!)

Stop telling your son how smart he is. Better to praise him for working hard. My son has 15 soccer trophies sitting on his shelf, most of them earned just for showing up to practice, a vestige of the 1960s self-esteem movement. Constantly telling children they are good at something actually discourages them from trying harder at it.

Stop doing the dishes for him.  Teens are not helped when parents take care of household chores because their children are “too busy” with homework, sports, a summer job or other activities. Treating teens like royalty whose only job is to bring honor to the family gives them an unrealistic message about life. Successful people tend to be those who are willing and able to do things that they really don’t want to do.

Don’t let him off easy. Clinical psychologist Wendy Mogul has written that it is easier for parents to feed, shelter and clothe their children than it is for them to set effective limits. But not enforcing consequences for the indolent teenage boy reinforces the notion, yet again, that he is special, and that the rules of the world do not apply to him.

Don’t make him shine for you. In a culture where teenagers scramble to amass credentials and gain admission to the best colleges is more intense than ever, being considered average or even a little above has become unacceptable. But by overlooking the good in the quest for the perfect, parents saddle children with unrealistic expectations. A college counselor know likes to say that a good college is one that fits your kid, not one whose name adds class to your car’s rear window.  Think about this during the summer months and let your teen boy be a teen boy. Most important, you be the parent who teaches him how to grow up.

To learn more, check out Dr. Adam Price’s Book on Amazon, He’s Not Lazy: Empowering Your Son to Believe In Himself.

Why your teen needs a summer job more than you realize

 

My youngest son, Garret, has been looking for a summer job for several weeks. He has applied online and in person. Part of the problem why he hasn’t found anything may be because he isn’t sixteen yet. Still, my husband is insistent Garret works this summer, not just for the money he will earn, but also for the character building that goes along with holding a job.

 A few years ago, my older son,  Jake, landed a summer job at a nearby pizza restaurant. He cleaned toilets, he bused tables, he served food and he rolled napkins. He also learned about teamwork, responsibility, and he saw people who worked two jobs to support families and make ends meet.

The more work shifts Jake took on and the more money he made, the more he loved the job. At the end of the summer, he didn’t want to quit. So, we worked out an arrangement in which he worked one weeknight and one weekend night throughout the rest of high school. Having responsibility and learning how to deal with all kinds of personalities in a workplace was as important as any lesson he learned in high school.

Now, my younger son, Garret has already learned his first lesson of job hunting. Convinced he would get the job he was interviewing for at Chipotle, he didn’t bother looking elsewhere as much as he should have. That job fell through because of his young age. Now, he’s out there scrambling with all the other teens looking for summer jobs.

As a parent, I have had to pull back and watch it all play out.  Here are the lessons I have learned about teens and summer jobs:

 

  1. Let them do it their way. Part of growing up is learning how to interview, fill out job applications and make an impression. Most teens don’t want your advice on how to do that.
  2. Encourage them to  revisit employers. The types of businesses seeking seasonal employees usually have high turnover. An employer that did not hire a couple of weeks ago might need more workers as the summer arrives.
  3. Discuss transportation. Landing a job is great but getting there may become an issue. This summer, several of us in my family with be sharing cars.  Who can take a bus or bicycle and who needs a car and when is conversation that needs to happen on the front end, before anyone find themselves stranded at work.
  4. Don’t let them quit. After landing a job, most teens will try to quit the first time they are asked to do something gross. Now that my older son has had to clean a toilet, he realizes that teamwork means someone has to do the dirty jobs.
  5. Encourage them to speak up. Many employers will try to take advantage of teens during the summer. This has happened to both of my older kids. Learning to speak up about compensation or work hours or ridiculous expectations is part of being an employee.
  6. Make them set their own alarms. Part of holding a job is being on time. As much as I wanted my teens to impress their boss, I realized they needed to learn responsibility and that means getting to work on time.
  7. Ask for references. When summer ends, it is the ideal time to ask an employer for a future reference (this goes for teens who have internships, too) It’s better to ask immediately than to try to track the person down months or even years later.

Last summer saw the strongest teen employment since 2013, but this year the hiring forecast isn’t as rosy because retailers who typically hire teens are struggling.

Still, there are summer jobs out there for teens — if they look in the right places, says John Challenger, whose company publishes annual teen summer job outlook. John suggests teens look for opportunities in industries that have been adding jobs so far this year, like transportation, hospitality and food service, or construction.

I think  Garret already has discovered it’s not easy to find a job as a teen. But hopefully he will soon be employed and by the end of summer, he will learn that having a job has a payoff, way more than just the money he earns.

 

13 Reasons Why Not (Preventing Teen Suicide)

My daughter, Olivia, recently told me about the Netflix show “Thirteen Reasons Why which is based on a novel about a young teenage girl who commits suicide and leaves 13 letters behind to explain the 13 reasons why she did it. This show is somewhat disturbing, but yet so real and mesmerizing. It’s a subject no parent wants to talk about because it is incomprehensible to think of a child committing suicide, but face it, suicide is VERY real! Ignoring or avoiding the subject could cost your child his or her life.

I have to admit, there were times I worried about Olivia.  Four years ago, Olivia had a friend in high school she knew through her soccer team, Bailey Leal.  I remember meeting Bailey at the end-of-year high school  soccer awards dinner. At the dinner, Bailey was awarded  an iron for being the “iron girl” of the varsity team.  I remember thinking, “WOW, how cool is that to get an “iron” award!”  Little did I know how Bailey would be impacting mine and Olivia’s  lives, not to mention thousands of others.

On May 21, 2013, I received a text from Olivia saying Bailey Leal committed suicide. I remember thinking, “This must be a mistake. How can this be? ” I also remember thinking the bigger question.. “WHY?? ”

Within minutes, the news about Bailey’s suicide was all over our town. Teens  were devastated and parents were numb. Olivia at the time was going through her own personal problems and this did not help. Olivia could not comprehend WHY Bailey would do this? I remember her telling me , “Mom, she was beautiful, popular, everyone loved her. She was an All-American soccer star and got a  perfect score on the ACT. She had it all Mom. Why did she take her life?”

Olivia, couldn’t understand if Bailey had ALL of this going for her, what could be so awful that her only solution would be to end her life.  Little did I know how fragile Olivia was and how badly this would affect her.

There were times Olivia couldn’t go to school. She couldn’t handle her emotions inside and was afraid of herself and what she was feeling. Bailey’s death brought all kinds of feelings to the surface. It made what she was feeling and thinking REAL and at the same time it scared her to death.  This changed my world as well because I didn’t know how to deal with teen suicide and what the signs were and how to talk to Olivia about it. She was suffering and I didn’t know how to get through to her and help her.

Bailey’s death brought everyone together in the community, teens, parents, families. They even created a club at school  called the HOPE club so kids can  get together and talk about what they are feeling and deal  those feelings together, no judgment. These teens had no idea how  Bailey’s suicide would affect them.  I know many parents became afraid that their child would be next. Bailey’s death brought awareness of how  thoughts of suicide can hide behind a smile, a laugh, a hug.

The point of my blog is to keep Bailey’s spirit alive through awareness of Mental Illness. Not every parent can recognize the signs because  teens are really good at hiding them. So  as a parent of a teen, what should you do?

Talk to your teen!! If he or she doesn’t want to talk to you, suggest they talk to someone else.  Not every teen has thoughts of committing suicide, but it’s okay to talk to them about it because they may know someone who they think does. Ignorance will not save anyone. It’s okay if your child is not okay. It is up to us, the parents, to be as involved in our teens’ lives as possible, even when they don’t want us to be.

Sad enough,  teens are committing suicide because they didn’t seek any help or they felt no one could help them. They are literally suffering inside in their own hell. Parents think their child is fine or  just moody or going through a hormone stage.  That may not be true. Your teen may be suffering from depression, anxiety,  bipolar disorder. But without really talking to them or getting them help,  you won’t know   until it is too late.

I have attached a video that was created for the one-year anniversary of Bailey’s death. I have to warn you, it will break your heart.  You will cry. I sometimes wonder how Bailey’s family got thought her death. How did they even want to wake up in the morning?  What I can tell you is that they did. It wasn’t easy, I am sure. And, I bet every day is a struggle. But Bailey’s mom is now an advocate for mental health and keeps her daughter’s memory alive through education and awareness of teen suicide.  I am in awe of her because as a mom, I don’t know if I would be as strong as she has been. So, all you moms and dads and teens who are reading this blog, I hope this opens your eyes  to mental illness and teen suicide and prevention.

I thought I would end with the 13 Reasons Why Not to commit suicide:

  1. You are not alone
  2. The pain can go away without committing suicide
  3. There is help
  4. The world needs you
  5. No one can replace you
  6. You will be missed
  7. It will make things worse for the people/family you leave behind
  8. Friends and family will be devastated
  9. Your life hasn’t even begun
  10. You can save someone’s life
  11. You are bigger than the problem
  12. You did not come this far in life to end it so tragically and so early.
  13. You are worth more and loved more than you think.
raquelmalderman@gmail.com has shared a video with you on YouTube

 

 

 

 

Remembering Bailey

 

by William Holden

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Mother feels jealous over son’s girlfriend

It’s  Video  Friday on our RaisingTeens Facebook page. In honor of Mother’s Day we explore a mom’s reaction to her son’s love of another woman (girl).

Can you relate to how Raquel is feeling? What was it like for you when your son got his first girlfriend?

Your teen is having sex. Do you accept it or deny it?

 

Talking to your teen about sex is never an easy conversation.  But here’s why it’s worth doing.  A 2016 review of more than three decades of research found that teenagers who communicated with their parents about sex used safer sexual practices.

So, does that mean parents should accept their teens want to have sex, and talk to them about engaging in it safely?  In today’s post, Cindy and Raquel answer the questions you may encounter as parents of teens.

Do we really need to accept our teens are having sex?

Cindy: While in high school, my teenager daughter told me her friend was having sex with her boyfriend. Her friend’s mother refused to take the girl to get birth control and told her daughter she didn’t think having sex in high school was appropriate. But the girl was having sex anyway. Behind her mother’s back. My daughter was concerned because her friend had told her the condom had broken during sex several times. My daughter’s friend asked her to go with to buy a pregnancy test.  When my daughter told me this story, my first reaction was “That’s just scary.”  It made me realize that if you don’t accept your teen is having sex with a boyfriend or girlfriend, you are fooling yourself.

Raquel: I agree that you need to accept it.  You may not like it.  But you can not be everywhere your teen is and you don’t want your teen to get pregnant . I would rather have the sex conversation than the pregnant conversation.  I think the best way to be parent is to  make sure your teen – girl or boy- is protected. If they have a boyfriend or girlfriend, chances are they are going to have  sex with or without your approval.

Do you just need to worry if you have a teen girl?

Raquel: I have a girl and a boy but being the mother of a boy scares me the most. You have no control over the teenage girl’s decision to keep a baby if she gets pregnant. Your son may not be ready or want to be a dad and the girl will make that decision for him whether he likes it or not. That’s what you need to tell him.

If you find out your teen is sexually active, do you let him or her have sex in your house? Would you rather they do it in the car, or at a park, or somewhere else?

Raquel: Of course you don’t want them to do that, but you also want them to be safe.  If they do have sex in my house, I would rather not know.

Cindy: I’m with you on that one Raquel.

Do you take your daughter to get birth control?

Raquel: Yes.  You need to build that trust. Some of the choices and decisions your daughter makes might not be one you would have made as a teenager, but it’s not about you. It’s about your teen and what’s best for her. If she asks you to take her to the doctor to get birth control, not bringing her does NOT mean your teen will not have sex. It just means she will have it without birth control.  You have to make a decision.

Cindy: I feel like teen girls should go on birth control their senior year of high school. They may not have sex until college or even after college, but at least you, the parent, can take her to get it and have a discussion about the responsibility that’s involved in being on the pill or some other form of birth control. It could also be a good time for the conversation about self respect.

Do you buy your son condoms?

Cindy: Yes. I bought a box and put it in the bathroom. I let my son know it was there. By the end of high school, all of his friends had used them. At least I knew they were all having safe sex.

If you learn your son or daughter is having sex on a regular basis with a love interest, do you let the parent of the other teen know ?

Raquel: No. It’s so personal. If the teen doesn’t want to share with his or her parent that’s his or her business. It’s that unspoken truth and you just don’t go there.  You don’t advertise it.

Cindy: Of course, that answer is much easier if you don’t have a relationship with the parent of the other teen. If it’s the son or daughter of a close friend, you will need to prod a little to find out what her or she has revealed.

You see a pregnancy test in the garbage. Do you ask your teen about it, or leave it alone?

Raquel:  I was in that situation and I did ask my daughter. It turned out it was a friend’s who didn’t want to do the test at her own home.  Whether or not that was true, I took that opportunity to tell my daughter to please make sure she doesn’t skip a day of her pill and I explained that being a teen mom wasn’t just a fun reality show.

When you have a conversation about the risks of sexual activity  — pregnancy, infection, the potential for heartbreak – do you also have a conversation about the rewards such as intimacy and love?

Cindy:  It’s easy to talk to teens about the risks. It’s much harder to talk to have a  conversation about why we are sexual beings, or how we express love. I once read that it’s better to have short meaningful conversations about sex and relationships over time than one big conversation they will brush off. I have tried to follow that advice. I think the most important thing is let your teen know they can talk about sex with you rather than being sneaky or hiding it.

Okay parents, we tackled some pretty awkward questions in this post. If you disagree with our answers or have your own take on these scenarios  please share, or send questions our way and we will do a follow up post.

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