Sex is every where, or so it seems. When you’re a teenager and your hormones start raging, it seems even more so. There are many different ideas and beliefs about sex from an adult perspective… from total abstinence to anything goes. From the viewpoint of a teen, it must be even more confusing.
Pagan attitudes to tend be more sex positive than most Christian or conservative religions (including Islam and Judaism), but even with that, sexuality still requires responsibility. If you are having a sexual relationship with another person, that other person’s needs, safety and beliefs need to be respected as well.
Before anyone engages in any kind of sex, whether it’s by themselves or with someone else, they should learn as much as they can about their own bodies and all aspects of sex… physical, mental and emotional. How can anyone make an educated decision unless they become educated?
Sadly, in this country, there is still the idea that sex has one function and that is to produce babies. But anyone who has studied human sexuality knows there is much more to sex and the desire to have sex than just reproduction. Because of these attitudes, most kids don’t get any kind of sex education until long after they have become sexually active.
Too many adults believe that “kids” need to be kept pure and innocent until they marry. This is simply unrealistic. Human beings are sexual beings from the moment they are born. Sexuality and sensuality feels good. Even young children learn at an early age that touching themselves feels good. Unfortunately, too many adults are still uncomfortable with this and start heaping on guilt on something that is perfectly natural and pleasurable. Too many religions still believe that self pleasuring or masturbation is a sin and therefore evil. They believe that forbidding children to not engage in any form of sexuality, including masturbating, will destroy the desire to do so. But in most cases, just the opposite happens.
If we want kids to be responsible adults, and that includes sexuality, we need to teach them how to do that.
So if you are a kid who has a parent who is squeamish about talking to you about sex, you might have to start the conversation yourself. As a minor, you will still need to their approval and permission for some things in regards to your sex life. It’s my personal opinion that if a teen is ready for sexual activity, they are usually old enough to make that decision, and that includes using birth control. But each family is going to have to decide that for themselves, hopefully in a good discussion that includes the child.
Kids and adults need to have accurate answers to all aspects of sex. The days are past where we just assume that two people will discover the answers by themselves by trial and error. If this was true, we wouldn’t have all of the sex problems we have in the world.. from rape to sex trafficking to unwanted pregnancies to unfulfilled sex lives even after marriage. In some cases, marriage isn’t even an option that many people want to pursue and that should be their choice and right. Insisting and expecting that sex will only take place after a wedding is both unfair and unrealistic.
Sexual people need to know how their bodies work, why some things feel good and others don’t, how to fix the ones that don’t feel good, how to be responsible in regards to preventing pregnancy or illness, to understanding how trauma affects sexuality and self esteem, and many other issues that evolve. Too many parents still believe that if they don’t mention sex to their kids, their kids won’t think about sex. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Kids need to learn about the anatomy of their own bodies and the changes that will happen as they get older.
They need to learn the mechanics of sexual intercourse using real pictures not drawings of body parts.
They need to learn both the real names like penis, vagina, breasts as well as the slang words.
They need to learn about all forms of birth control such as condoms and how to use one, as well as the pill, IUD’s, shots, implants, patches, cervical caps, in addition to abstinence, the withdrawal method and sterilization (Tubal and Vasectomy) .
They need to learn about all types of sexuality including homosexuality, intersexuality, transsexuality, and bisexuality and that all of these are normal.
They need to learn about consent and both boys and girls need to understand that only yes means yes and that a good sexual relationship depends on open communication between partners.
They need to learn about pregnancy and what can and does go wrong; miscarriage, birth defects, stillbirth along with the things that happen during and after pregnancy (morning sickness, labor, edema).
They need to learn about relationships such as marriage, divorce, parenting. Too often we glamorize the idea of pregnancy and motherhood and rarely tell the reality of what it’s like to take care of a newborn infant and the sacrifices needed to be a parent.
With this they need to learn about what abortion means (all the reasons why they might have to make this decision for themselves) and that they have the right to do so if this is a route they might have to take.
They need to learn that their bodies are normal no matter what size, shape and color of their genitals. They should be comfortable with looking and touching their own genitals and encouraged to do so. How can they know what feels good and right when someone else touches them, if they don’t touch themselves?
They should be encouraged to masturbate, which is healthy and normal. Adults need to get past the idea there is something wrong with masturbation… for themselves and for their kids.
But teens also have to learn that it’s okay for them to wait to have sex for the time when it’s right for them. Kids should never be pushed one way or another… either be forced to wait to have sex because of adult or religious opinions or pushed to have sex before they are ready because of perceived peer pressure. Kids need to understand just because their friends say they are having sex, it doesn’t mean they really are.
Kids need to learn about orgasm and how to achieve one.
They need to learn about oral sex and how it works, and why it is as much having sex as vaginal intercourse.
They need to learn how to have and show respect for themselves, their partners and their friends.
They need to learn about sexual innuendo and sexual harassment; giving and receiving.
They need to learn about sexually transmitted diseases… the real information and not fear-mongering.
I’ve been saying these kinds of things for years. I have been accused of trying to drive kids into be sexually active before they are ready. That telling kids all of this information will just make them want to have sex more than if they are not told anything, when actually, it’s just the opposite. The more information they have, the more likely they will be able to make an educated, informed decision about when, how and with whom to have sex.
You wouldn’t let a teenage drive your car without learning what it is and how it works, safety and the rules of the road, responsibility, etc… but too many adults seem to be just fine with letting kids do the same thing with their bodies and sexuality. If you really think that teens don’t think about sex if you don’t bring it up, then you clearly don’t understand kids and don’t remember being one.