Can We Talk?

While recently at a high school presenting abstinence to a class of about 25 seniors, I asked the question, “How many of your parents have seriously talked to you about sex?” A weird silence came over the room as students looked around the classroom to see only two people raise their hands. The students with their hands down lowered their heads as if they were ashamed to admit that their parents hadn’t talked to them. Houston…we have a problem!

Okay, let’s be honest parents. Talking to your kids about sex is not the most comfortable thing in the world. As a matter of fact, wearing your high school football jersey or cheerleading uniform that fit you 30 pounds ago may be more comfortable. However, if you’re waiting on them to come to you to spark the conversation, you can count on being a grandparent first. So why don’t parents want to talk to their kids about sex? This is the million dollar question. One popular reason that I have heard from parents is “They’re going to do what they want to do anyway.” And you’re right…they are going to do what they want to do. But what you must understand is that you influence that decision. Furthermore, what you say and don’t say will have a huge impact on what they choose to do. Let’s face it, we adults are the same way!

Recently, I hosted a parent workshop. At the beginning of the workshop I gave a piece of paper to three parents. One paper said “Be Careful.” The other said “Don’t eat the candy.” The third said “If someone offers you candy, don’t take it.” During intermission, I had someone walk around and offer all the parents candy. When we reconvened, I asked “Who all got candy.” Almost everybody raised a hand and some were chewing with the look of a three year old who got caught in the cookie jar. I then asked “Would the three individuals that I gave a sheet of paper to at the beginning of the night please stand?” To the first I asked “Did you take candy?” She said, “Yes.” I asked “Why?” She said “Because my paper said don’t eat the candy, not don’t take it. I took it, but I didn’t eat it.” “Okay,” I replied. Then I asked the next person, “Did you take the candy?” “No,” he replied. I asked, “Why not?” He replied, “Because the paper said if someone offers you candy, don’t take it.” Then I asked the third person, “Did you take candy?” “Yes,” she replied, while laughing as she was finishing the candy off. “Why?” I asked. “Your note just said be careful,” she replied. Why was each person’s response different? Because they were each given different messages.

So how important is what you say or don’t say to your teen?