There was a time when parents worried about teen sex more than anything else when their kids reached those hormonal years, but according to the most recent statistics coming from Pew Research, teen sex isn’t high on the list of parental concerns. High on the list is bullying followed by teens struggling with anxiety and depression. Does this mean that parents now are more accepting of teens being in sexual relationships, or are other concerns simply more immediate?
Before asking yourself what you would do if your teen suddenly confessed they were having sex, it might help to look at the concerns of other parents. Then, a few statistics on teen pregnancy might help you clarify your position on how you would react. Even then, the one troubling fact remains, what are we teaching our teens about the dangers of having sex before reaching an age considered to be socially responsible? There’s much to consider, isn’t there?
Safe Sex vs. No Sex
There appears to be a huge discrepancy in the statistics regarding teen births and sexually transmitted diseases. On the one hand, you have Pew Research recording the lowest number of teen births before the age of 19 than ever since the U.S. began recording back in the early 1940s. However, on the other hand, STDs are on the rise, and in some cases, are at record levels per capita. What does this mean?
How can safe sex be preventing unwanted births, but allow for an increase in sexually transmitted diseases? Something doesn’t add up and that something is that the statistics on teen births don’t account for abortions and still births. At first glance, you’d think that the nation’s efforts towards educating our youth on the wisdom of practicing safe sex is ‘working,’ but on the other hand, as indicated by the rise in STDs, something has gone terribly awry.
Knowing that the figures don’t add up, what would your reaction be if your teen suddenly confessed that they were sexually active? With STDs on the rise, do you know where to have your child tested confidentially? You can find the information you need for every state on the saferstdtesting.com website.
What Is Overshadowing Concerns on Teen Sex?
Now, getting back to what Pew Research found in their survey, the top 4 concerns of parents today appear to be more immediate than teen birth and nowhere in the top 8 is there any mention of STDs that have gone rampant. Pew found that:
- 60% of parents fear bullying
- 54% fear teen anxiety and/or depression
- 50% fear kidnapping
- 45% fear their child will be beaten up or attacked
- 43% fear teen pregnancy
- 41% fear drugs or alcohol
- 31% fear their child will get shot
- 27% fear their child will get in legal trouble
Somewhere, it seems as though society had undergone a major shift and now parents’ greatest fears aren’t what their children are doing but rather, what is being done to them, bullying topping the list.
As can also be evidenced by the above percentages, it is easy to see why such a high percentage of our youth would experience anxiety and/or depression. If you had a bully constantly on the attack, even as an adult, wouldn’t you be subject to anxiety or depression?
Teen Sex, Bullying and Fear of Rejection
It’s time to put some of these concerns together. Before looking at how you would respond to your teen if they suddenly confessed they were sexually active, take a look at peer pressure and the role it plays in all of the above. Only one other time in your child’s life, to date, was it super-important to find their identity. The Terrible Twos you thought you’d never live through have resurfaced now that your child is a teen, and all that toddler behavior of asserting their independence is now being expressed in different ways because your kids are more developmentally advanced.
Sex, drugs, rock-n-roll and now violence are the symptoms of peer pressure in many, if not most, cases, and that’s what you need to seriously look at before snapping to any rash judgments on your teen’s sexual activity or your ‘failure’ as a parent to get the message across.
How You Handle Your Reaction Can Have Long-Lasting Ramifications
Remember, this is an emotionally charged period in your child’s development, and a wrong response could send your teen into a tailspin from which recovery may be years in the making. Think carefully before saying or doing anything at all if your teen confesses to sexual activity. You may be hurt and feeling let-down or that you’ve let your children down, but at the moment, it is more important to consider your reaction.
No one can tell you how to act, but you may want to consider how your response could affect the rest of your child’s life. Bear in mind that your teen is trying to express his or her identity separate from mom and dad, but your opinion of them is still of ultimate importance, believe it or not! Can you find a way to be supportive of their feelings without being overwhelmingly judgmental? Can you ask them how they are feeling and what they would like you to help with?
Being supportive at this time can mean more to your child than you could ever imagine. You don’t have to like that they have prematurely dabbled in sexual activity and you might even have moral objections to that behavior. However, your teen needs you or they wouldn’t have suddenly confessed.
What Does Your Teen Need Now in the Moment?
Could it be that your daughter fears she may be pregnant or your son fears he got a girl pregnant? Could it be that they fear they have contracted a sexually transmitted disease? Perhaps they fear being made fun of or ostracized if their peers found out about their sexual activity. There are literally a million and one reasons why your teen suddenly needs your support and to deny it because of your own feelings could be more devastating than you realize.
Take time to think about how you want to react. Tell your child you understand they are concerned and have questions, but that you need time to think about what they’ve just told you. Don’t be overly quick to react because this could be a deal breaker. Your continued relationship with your child is at stake, so keep that in mind.
Your child needs you or they wouldn’t have fessed up. Get to the bottom of what they need, help them find solutions and be there for them. After all, they are still kids and their needs come first. That is what you need to be concerned with as a parent, so think before you speak. Your reaction can lead them to make better choices in the future. That’s what you need to know. Now, it’s time to respond.