Parenting Adolescents — 02 November 2003
The truth about what teen girls think about sex

Do you know what your daughter may be doing on her way to school, on the
bus, around the lockers in broad daylight?

Parents of twelve-year-old girls are often involved in their daughters_
ballet recitals, athletic competitions or music lessons. They may also
be aware of their daughter’s struggles for self- worth, personal appeal
and their place within the peer group. The last thing parents may be aware of is that their sweet, just maturing girls may be involved in
detached sexual behavior.

Recent national television programs and magazine articles reported what
many teen-agers are experiencing, and  counselors have also been hearing about the new sexual trends among the young.

Some teen girls speak nonchalantly about willingly and routinely
engaging in oral sex with boys. Forty percent of teen magazine
respondents stated that “oral sex is not sex.” The settings are on the
school bus, at school, or any semi-public place. The rationale: a desire
to be liked and approved of by boys. It is not a secret in their
circles- it is often the norm.

Recent studies report that thirty four percent of ninth graders have
already had intercourse and forty nine percent of interviewed
twelve-year-olds say that oral sex is no big deal. They seem very matter
of fact in reporting it and state that this is done out of a desire to
feel good for the moment without expectations of long term connection or
commitment. The word love is seldom mentioned. “That’s what we do-
what’s the big deal?”

Along with a detached attitude about their sexual behaviors, many of the
teens interviewed were either unaware or unconcerned with the risks
involved. They feel that oral sex is “very safe” and all other forms of
sexually transmitted diseases (except AIDS) are easily treated. Some girls talk of being worried at times, but keep on doing what is
expected.

The songs, images and messages teens are exposed to are extremely harsh,
vulgar and detached portrayal of hedonistic conduct. If it feels good-do
it, if it serves you well -do it, consequences are of no concern. These
loud and crass portrayals of physicality are being drummed into young
minds repeatedly.

Many girls, not involved in these behaviors, may be horrified to learn
of what some of their peers are doing. For parents the possibility that
their daughters or sons engage in casual oral sex must be unfathomable.

The callous, detached and impersonal nature of sexual contacts between
girls and boys, is of great concern. To be convinced that oral sex is
not sex, normalizes this behavior as a casual social interaction. To see
early sexuality as a means of temporary pleasure and social
acceptance-not connected to a relationship- is truly frightening.

When sex ends up being disconnected from love, marriage and commitment,
we lose the morals of humanity. This type of sexual behavior among the
young robs them of all tenderness, romance, courtship, love and
security. Are these the early signs of a cold, harsh, robotic society
devoid of moral standards?

What will happen to youngsters who lost their innocence without shame?
How will they learn to feel love and caring for others? How will their
future relationships become sacred? Could they restore value to their
bodies and souls?

As old fashioned as our teens see us, we must impress upon them the
value of sex within the context of love and commitment.

  • We must instill in them respect for their bodies and psyches, by
    teaching them to set physical boundaries and be the guardian of their
    bodies.
  • We must help them find ways to gain self-esteem, by encouraging them
    to pursue their talents, do kind acts and develop pride in their good
    moral characters.
  • We must teach them how to relate to others and form lasting
    friendships- by modeling for them considerate, caring and kind behaviors
    towards others.
  • We must promote compassion, empathy and caring in our teenagers, by
    affirming those behaviors as they or others exhibit them.
  • We must protect them from crude and vulgar images of violent,
    impersonal sex, by familiarizing ourselves with the music, videos,
    computer-images and reading materials they use and exercising our
    parental controls.
  • We must talk and talk and ask and ask them about their lives.
    Adolescents who can talk freely to their parents make better life choices.
  • We must be available to them, listen without criticism and validate
    their opinions and concerns.
  • We must challenge their misinformed notions and provide facts about
    what is and is not sex and the risks of all sexual behaviors.
  • We must be vigilant and informed about our teenagers_ emotions.
  • We must respect our teenagers and teach them to respect themselves.
  • Above all we must teach and model for them love and caring within the
    context of relationships.

Parenting youngsters is about helping them become healthy, functional,
decent, loving adults. Our efforts can not be thwarted – for the sake of
our children and our future society.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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