The key element in any relationship is communication. Effective communication with children and particularly teenagers is essential if we are to establish meaningful relationships with them.
We realise that many parents juggle parenting, home and employment but spending time with children will pay dividends. We need to be aware of their world, this is particularly vital when parenting teenagers.
All children need boundaries. If we as parents are to provide guidance, encourage mutual respect and protect our young we must have limits and standards of behaviour. Teenagers like boundaries in their lives, as long as they are fair, because they show in a very tangible way that they are loved and cared for.
Are you dreading the day of the BIG TALK? Don’t. Sex education as with all other aspects of learning for our children should be an ongoing process. Talk about relationships answering questions openly and honestly, giving age appropriate answers. Parents themselves know how much information their children need and will understand. Talking about general changes such as growing taller, changes in body shape and growth of body hair will introduce the whole topic of puberty in a gentle way.
Perhaps the greatest influence on teenagers comes from their peer group. The need to ‘fit in’, to be accepted is immense but not all peers will have positive influences on each other. Of course we can’t police our kids 24 hours a day, therefore it is important that we know who their friends are, where they are going and what they are doing.
Relationships are part of growing up. The average person will fall in love 6 or 7 times in their lifetime. So how can we prepare young people for the rollercoaster of adolescence? Are they aware of the possible consequences of choices that they make particularly in the area of relationships and sexuality?
Encouraging young people to delay sexual relationships for as long as possible will reduce the number of sexual partners, which in turn will reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and consequential emotional damage.
Sex - Contraception, Emotional Hurt, Teenage Pregnancy
“Safe sex”, medically more accurately described as safer sex is widely promoted and contraception is freely available, even without parental consent or knowledge.
There is no method of contraception that is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. While condoms provide some protection from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s), it provides very little protection from the most common STI in Northern Ireland, the Human Papilloma Virus (wart virus) and the contraceptive pill while more effective in preventing pregnancy will give NO protection from STI’s.
It is also important to note that contraceptives will not prevent a broken heart and damaged self-esteem, which can result if relationships involve sex for teenagers.
Many teenagers who do become involved sexually express regret. A reported 80% of girls and 60% of boys in a recent survey wished they had waited.
Teenagers get involved sexually for a variety of reasons including peer pressure, pressure within the relationship or they just get carried away in the heat of the moment. Also, increasingly, young people are becoming sexually active as a result of alcohol misuse. Sadly some cannot even remember the experience at all.
As parents we want our young people to enjoy sex in the context of a loving committed relationship not something that they will live to regret.
Northern Ireland has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe