My last post went into detail about the risks an early sexual debut poses to our children’s brain; even to their lives. Our kids are bombarded with ‘junk sex’. Every movie, song or social media influencer that targets youth of today is promoting hook-up culture as the new norm. This makes it imperative that, as parents, we equip our kids with knowledge and give them the tools to avoid risky behavior. As a mom, I encourage you to find additional tools to help your family. Equipping them doesn’t happen overnight, but over the years. Below are the top three tools:
Talk About It
Make a Plan
- Talk about it:
Statistics show that parents and kids who have open communication about avoiding risks (drugs, sex, crime, etc.) tend to avoid those risks. Basically, communication about sex is effective prevention. So, if it makes you squeamish, I am going to be blunt. You’ve got to get over it. We have laid out the serious risks to their health, so let those factors drive you to use different tools to get the conversations going. A simple way to help you get started is to talk about it on a car ride. Avoiding eye contact can help both you and your kids be more comfortable. Younger children should be comfortable hearing about their own body parts. Try asking them, “Do you have any questions?” It helps you to share what is relevant to them as opposed to laying out an overwhelming amount of detail all at once. As the conversations happen more with your kids, and as they get older, you need to go into detail about boundaries and what sex is.
- Manage cravings:
At some point you have to regulate your choices based on what you know is true. Warn them! If we let cravings rule our choices with our diets and eat nothing but ice cream and chips, then what will the consequences be? At some point you have to choose to regulate your food choices based on what you know is true: Constant junk food gave me a stomach ache, therefore I need to choose healthier food. We can expect the same if we choose a diet of junk sex. Casual hook-up’s will have equivalent consequences like the diabetes, obesity and depression we get from constant ice cream and chips.
Our kids need to know that the truth is the only way to avoid getting an STD is to never have sex with someone who has already been sexually active. The truth is, the only way to avoid the harm to our kids largest sex organ, the brain, is to wait until they are in a mature, committed relationship where pair-bonding and trust will not be repeatedly broken. It’s this fancy idea called mutual monogamy (marriage).
- Make a plan:
As your kids get older, ask them what guard rails they want to put in place to protect themselves before they are in the heat of the moment. Honestly, they might be oblivious. So you should come to the discussion with a suggestion or two, but let them come up with some of their own first. Encourage them to put this plan in writing, and then revisit it as they get older.
When they are younger, a deal breaker may be when a friend of the opposite sex wants to be alone in a room. Plan their excuse now so an exit strategy is in place. As they get older, and they might be in a dating relationship, then it is wise to not be alone together with the lights off. Set that boundary.
Another one to create awareness of is keeping skin covered in certain situations. A teenage couple sitting side by side watching a movie, and maybe even holding hands can be reasonable. Once summer arrives and they are sitting next to each other in shorts, tank tops, or no tops and bathing suits, then we have skin to skin contact. All of a sudden we have an open door for oxytocin to wash over the brain. Basically, the goal is to make a decision on deal breakers ahead of time. We know that in the moment, when attraction and desire can build, that the decision making skills are lacking.
Popular culture and our schools are peddling junk sex to our kids, but our goal at Choose Health is to equip parents to offer a different narrative at home. Also, to give your family the tools to build relationship so that your word carries more authority than TV, your kids’ friends, or even their teachers.
Choose Health Founder and Lead Educator