Expectations, hopes, and fears about adolescent sexuality

This coming week I am – gasp! – home alone.  Yep, that’s right, my kids and partner have hit the vacation trail and left me to fend for myself in the wilds of South Austin.  My mother-in-law’s reaction: “Well, that’s…odd.  Tell me why?”  Because I am writing my book.  I have a whole week to myself, and I was desperately torn between updating this not-so-lovely website with the snazzy graphics I’ve been drawing in my “spare” time and finally duct-taping myself to a chair to write my book.

I decided the graphics might be more fun, but the book might actually help people.  So book it is!

The book is, unimaginatively, for parents on how to talk with their teenagers about sex, sexuality, and romance.  So I’m going to have a whole section on parental expectations, hopes, and fears about sex and romance.  I’ve talked with many parents about this in person, and collected quite a varied list, but I’d love to hear from you, gentle readers, about your own present, past, or future thoughts about your kids’ involvements (or non-involvements) in sex and romance.  Here’s a partial list of what real parents have said about their kids:


  • I expect my daughter to say what she wants romantically and sexually.
  • I expect my son to keep his romantic and sexual engagements to himself, both at home and at school.
  • I expect my daughter to fall in love.
  • I expect my son to try and have sex with girls.
  • I expect my daughter to have sex as a teenager.


  • I hope my son is a virgin when he gets married.
  • I hope my daughter really enjoys her sexual life.
  • I hope my son is kind to the women he has sex with.
  • I hope my daughter masturbates.
  • I hope my son loves the first person he has sex with.


  • I’m afraid my daughter will be gay.
  • I’m afraid my son will hurt someone else.
  • I’m afraid my daughter will be date raped.
  • I’m afraid my son will ruin his life.
  • I’m afraid my daughter will not listen to or believe what I tell her about boys and sex.
  • I’m afraid my son will be taken in by some girl.

Hope that gets your juices going!  Leave your additions or reactions to the lists down below.

Oh, and because I’m writing on the book, my writing on this blog may be somewhat erratic this week (starting now – I hardly ever have the quiet and attention to post on a Sunday afternoon!).

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. Hi Dr. Rayne! I’m something of a long-time reader, though a lot of your posts aren’t geared towards my demographic–that of 18-yo girls/young women (I’m not sure which of the two I am, haha).

    I’m honestly not sure if I will be a parent in the future; if that is the case, then it will certainly be a while yet before I take on such a role. When that happens, I hope that your words I’ve read here will still be stashed somewhere in my messy room of a head!

    But, I think I can stretch and consider the feelings of a possible ‘me,’ a hypothetical parent version of the ‘me’ now, you might say? Lacking experience, but it’s the closest I can get. Even if it doesn’t help your writing, I feel I should share it with anyone who might read it.

    I’ve probably been verbose to this point, so I’ll try to get to the topic. As I am now, and as a person who is not a parent:

    I expect my child(ren) to break up with someone or be broken up with by someone at one point.
    I expect that following the end of a relationship, my child’s heart will be hurting.
    I expect my child will do something that he or she is not proud of or wishes to undo.
    I expect my child will not often come to me first when he or she has problems or questions.

    I hope my child will understand that he or she can love anybody he or she feels attracted or connected to.
    I hope my child supports his or her friends who are concerned, confused, lost or despairing about their sexuality (or anything, for that matter).
    I hope my child makes strong bonds of friendship, and has a large support system for matters he or she feels concern, confusion or despair about.
    I hope my child will look for his or her own answers and find good sources of accurate and complete information.
    I hope my child will responsibly consider the things he or she hears and sees, and forms his or her own opinions.
    I hope my child is not ashamed of his or her body.
    I hope my child has clumsy and awkward sex in good humor.
    I hope my child will know his or her limits and those of his or her partner, and I hope both sides respect these limits.
    I hope my child will be confident enough to say no, and I hope my child will be mature enough to accept being told no.

    I am afraid my child will believe that he or she cannot come to me with problems or questions.
    I am afraid my child will become trapped in an abusive relationship.
    I am afraid my child will look for his or her own answers and find good sources of misinformation.

    Ah! Sorry, it got pretty long…
    Though, I do wonder how many of these will change or stay the same by the time I actually am a parent.

  2. Wise words, Lilian, all of them. I hope they do stay with you over time, regardless of whether you become a parent or not. Teenagers will always be in your community – and whether or not you ever parent any of them, you can always be a mentor and a support.

    And I am continually surprised by how many teenagers and young adults read my blog. I’m not sure why you personally feel drawn to reading (although I would love to know!), but I think it’s often a combination of wanting information about sex, which I provide for parents to give to their teenagers, and wanting to hear a different adult perspective from someone who is generally positive about sexuality in all its varieties.

    Thank you for sharing, and I hope you feel comfortable continuing to comment on future posts as well.

  3. I expect my daughter to get her heart broken a few times.
    I expect my daughter to be smarter than I was about dating.
    I expect my daughter to get married and have a child of her own someday.

    I hope my daughter will marry someone wonderful, regardless of whether it’s the first person she has sex with or the thousandth.
    I hope my daughter will love, or at least not dislike, her body.
    I hope my daughter will be strong and smart and kind, and look for those qualities in other people.

    I’m afraid my daughter will be date raped.
    I’m afraid my daughter will make unwise decisions with consequences too big for her to handle.
    I’m afraid the world is going to melt/explode before my daughter is old enough for any of this to be an issue.

  4. Lilian,

    Your words “I hope my child has clumsy and awkward sex in good humor.” are words I hope everyone takes for themselves as well. If all adults (and sexually active teens are included in that category for me!) would allow for clumsy and awkward sex in good humor, there would be a LOT more transcendant sex in this world. Thanks for sharing.


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