On Friday I wrote about the importance of talking with teenagers about privilege vs. responsibility in sexual decision making. Here’s the first concrete step a parent or a teacher could ask a teenager to begin a conversation around this topic:

“How is hooking up with someone different from, say, playing a computer game with someone?”

This will, of course, lead to many different answers. Here are some:

  • “I’m much more picky about who I hook up with than who I play computer games with.”
  • “Hooking up can get you an STD.”
  • “Hooking up can get you (or someone else) pregnant.”
  • “Hooking up is more fun.”
  • “You can play computer games with more than one person but you don’t usually hook up with more than one person at a time.”
  • “Hooking up feels better than playing computer games.”

(If you’ve got other answers to that question, feel free to share them in the comments section!)

The parent or teacher can take almost any answer that the teenager gives and turn it into a supporting point for the deeper nature that being sexual with someone implies over non-sexual activities.

By acknowledging that sexuality is inherently different from the majority of activities that a teenager could potentially engage in, the doorway has been opened to talk about the inherently different responsibilities that come with it.

There are three areas of sexuality that stand out as needing bringing particular responsibilities with them: physical, relational, and social. We’ll talk about these three areas of responsibility and how to talk about them with teenagers over the rest of the week.