For many teens, talking with their parents about sex is something they find awkward. Interestingly, teens themselves sometimes find ways to “lighten up” conversations about sex. Researchers observed that, compared to girls, “Male adolescents used more sarcasm with their parent. They made it seem as if it was acceptable to joke around with their parent about sex….downplaying the seriousness of it and putting their parent and themselves at ease.” Interestingly, boys were more likely to use such sarcasm when talking to fathers. Boys also appeared to be slightly more willing to talk about the topic with a parent than girls.
So how do we make use of this information? Keep in mind that a boy may relieve discomfort by using sometimes startling sarcasm: “That rash I had last week was really a hickey, Mom.” Knowing that he is probably trying to lighten things up, it would be wise to not react as if this is a disrespectful stance, but instead join in the “banter” with a similarly playful comment or just a laugh.
In the upcoming weeks, I will continue to share findings from this study on how teens and parents talk about sex. The article is fairly “academic “in nature, but if you have the patience, and want to read some fascinating stuff, including real conversations teens had with their parents, click here for the whole article in the Journal of Adolescent Research.