The Importance of “The Talk”
By brandon •
“The Talk.” Growing up, you either had it with your parents, heard about it from a friend who had it with theirs, or learned what it was during one of those classes at school.
At the time, learning about the birds and the bees was either interesting or disgusting depending on how and who you heard it from. The one thing that probably wasn’t on your mind was that you would one day have to have it with your own child, field their questions and help them to navigate their hormonal teenage years.
Unfortunately, how and when to begin having this conversation has gotten murky with the invention of the internet.
It is not uncommon for children ages 9-13 to be looking up information about sex or for children ages 13-19 to be actively engaging in sexual activity within their peer group.
This early experimentation could lead to negative outcomes, like teenage pregnancy, that have the potential to drastically shape your child’s future.
When a teenager is experimenting with sex, they are rarely taking their long term future into consideration.
The U.S. still has had one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy among Western industrialized nations in recent years.
In Florida 93% of teens who gave birth in 2020 were unmarried and 13% of those had one or more previous births.
Statistically, single parenthood is the number one indicator of financial instability resulting in poverty according to this article. In other words, becoming a teen mom has a direct impact on her education, future family relationships and financial stability. Ashley Conway, E3’s Project Coordinator, has a similar story.
“When I was a teenager I started making some really unhealthy choices, and when I was 15, I got into a pretty serious relationship. By the time I was 16, I was pregnant,” Ashley stated. Despite giving birth to her first daughter, Ashley was still caught in a cycle of unhealthy choices.
It wasn’t until the birth of her second daughter that she decided enough was enough. “I had my second daughter when I was 19. At that point I realized I didn’t want to raise them in that cycle. I did not want my daughters to end up like that. I was working three jobs, and I didn’t want them to have to struggle like I was.”
For Ashley, her daughters ended up being the catalyst for change. “That’s when I researched ‘what am I doing that’s unhealthy?’ because obviously I’m making the same bad decision and getting the same outcome. So that’s when I looked into making healthy choices and stopped making bad choices. I just really focused on my future.”
Ashley was able to turn her life around with a great deal of support but admits, life would have been much easier if she had postponed sexual involvement until she was older or married. And what about today’s teens who are actively participating in or considering experimenting with sex? All children will one day be facing these decisions. How can you help your child avoid an unplanned pregnancy, an STD or potential emotional pain from an unhappy ending of a sexual relationship? The short answer is to be present and willing to be a part of the conversation.
“The Talk” can’t be a one-and-done moment in your child’s life.
It has to be ongoing.
Talk with your teens about:
- Your expectations for them regarding their sexual activity
- The benefits of waiting and the potential negative consequences of not waiting
- How to say “no” to sexual activity
- What a healthy, respectful relationship looks like
- Their future goals and dreams and how their daily choices can positively or negatively impact those goals
- How to limit the influence of social media in their decisions
These conversations can make a difference in their decision to delay sexual activity.
Remember, if they don’t learn from you, they will certainly learn from somewhere else and it may not be the guidance you want them to receive.
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