“How to” Ideas for Intentional Parenting of Teens Around Sex
By Dr E on July 07, 2014
Supervision impacts teen sexuality more than any other input. It is tough to raise a family and to be home for kids, but teens need MORE attention, not less, than other ages.
They need mentors and parents to help them find jobs or to assist with college applications. If you or someone you trust is at home, your kids will find it stifling to their sex drive and that is just fine! Make it awkward and hard for them to find a place to get busy.
Teen Sex in America
I believe a lot of teen sex in America comes from loneliness and boredom.
When I say this to over-stressed upper class parents whose kids are in 10 different activities each semester, they stare at me blankly. But a majority of kids in our country live in rural and urban locations with limited after school programs, and few funds for club sports. They are home alone and bored.
4 cost-effective ideas to provide teen supervision
- Identify a trusted college student (a “manny” perhaps for boys) who will trade hanging out after school to over see homework and toss a football for free meals.
- Create a co-op with other parents of teens, where you rotate the “ hang out house” on different days of the week after school and trade the parent who is on-call.
- Alter work schedules, so you work at home for a few hours in the afternoon, even if you have to head back in the evening.
- Ask extended family to pop by and engage kids in chat or a game of cards etc… as often as possible.
The goal should be to a have a nurturing place that kids go to after school that feels safe, fun and most importantly has food! I think kids often know when they are headed in a risky direction but they aren’t sure how to stop the momentum and they need a safety rope to grab on to.
Having your house as the hang out spot can also allow you to be a mentoring adult in your teen’s friends lives, which is also a special gift.
Be Aware, Keep Tabs
Once you establish a place your kids are supposed to be at any given time “e.g. Sally’s house,” call to confirm there will be an adult there (other parents usually appreciate this connection) and let your teen know that they are required to call or text if they change plans. Then don’t be afraid to use technology to ensure they aren’t sneaking somewhere different than what you agreed to. We all lied to our parents. Managing the life of your child with HIV, or your grandchild, or a substance abuse isn’t worth the tradeoff of “trusting” our kids.
Teens aren’t trustworthy. They aren’t meant to be, they are meant to be storming the gates of life.
I tell my kids “jokingly sort of” that we have cameras in the hang-out den and they also know that we have locators on the phone for “safety”- after all we are the ones paying for the phones. I know a lot of you won’t agree with these tactics, but unless you are home and see the whites of your kids eyes each afternoon, do NOT trust the angels of better judgment with their lives. The stakes are too high.
I believe that much of the poor parenting in our society today is permissive parenting under a guise of not wanting to be “bossy or demanding” of our children, but it is in truth selfish laziness. Dad would rather watch the game, Mom would rather go work out—let’s just give the kids a TV and a computer in their room so we can do what we want.
If parents have trouble getting any other part of parenting right, be authoritative (approachable but with rules) and not authoritarian (harsh and unapproachable) or permissive when it comes to conversations about teen sexuality. Their lives and future depend on it.
8 Practical Tips for Intentional Parenting of Teens
At our home, we try to balance a tough line on where and with whom our kids are, with open accessible communication. Here are a few ideas that have worked for us:
1. Spiritual Word Time. Every month, we sit down with a different art medium. It can be foam art pieces, colored pencils, blow paint, cartoon sketch instructions, you name it. Each person picks their own “word” they want to work on in their life and begins to make art around that word. Past words or phrases have included: “organization,” “commitment,” “be prepared,” “follow through,” “relax,” or “focus.” Our family ranges in artistic skills, some really aren’t the best :) But it doesn’t matter what the quality of the project is. After 10 or 15 minutes of working on our art, while we are still busy creating, we go around and share what our word is and why we are working on it in our lives. Boys in particular share better if they are doing something else, like finishing up their word art, so it feels nonthreatening to talk while being busy. Then we put our art on the wall to remind us of our word. Even if you just do this occasionally, it is a great way to gain intimacy without it feeling forced.
2. Drive your kids now and then, even when they are older. After teens have their license the car time chat stops. But still make a point to drive with your kid once a month or so, someplace that takes more than a few minutes to get to. Usually you can either take or pick up a student from sports or music activities. Again, I find our boys more talkative if they are “behind the wheel”. Turn the radio off and keep the chatter light, but give them chances to talk about what they want. It is amazing sometimes what they will bring up if they feel an open space and a listening ear.