Nothing.

Let me clarify. First, for the purposes of this post, I am defining sexual activities as including everything from hand-holding and romantic kissing to oral, vaginal, and anal intercourse. For much of a child’s early life, his or her parents assume he/she is not engaging in sexual activities. For much of an adult’s life, his or her parents assume he/she is engaging in sexual activities.

It’s that tricky time in between childhood and adulthood where parents are, I have found, lagging in their assumptions about their child’s sexuality. For teenagers who have not started engaging in sexual behavior, their parents almost always correctly believe their children are not being sexual. For teenagers who have started engaging in sexual behavior, parents almost always assume their teenagers are engaging in lower levels of sexual activity than they really are. Eventually, although maybe not until the wedding night, parents’ assumptions catch up with their children’s sexual behavior.

This middle point, where parents’ assumptions are lagging their teenagers’ behavior, is a critical time, because it’s when teenagers need the most education about sex, sexuality, and relationships, and their parents aren’t even aware that they need it.