Sex as a responsibility – Part 1

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.

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. I couldn’t help but put myself back into my teenage years and come up with more answers
    “Computer games are easier to understand”
    “Computer games only cost a quarter” (okay – that dates me)
    “You don’t have to go to all that trouble if you want to play a computer game.”
    “Computer games last longer.”
    “Everybody playing a computer game is playing for the same reason – just fun.”

  2. […] as a responsibility – Part 2 Yesterday I wrote the introduction to this series. Today I am writing about how talking with teenagers about sex as a privilege can […]

  3. You can play a computer game without caring whether the other person is hot or not. :/

  4. […] as a responsibility – Part 3 Last week I wrote the first and the second parts of this series. I apologize for the longer-than-planned interlude before this, […]

  5. […] responsibilities, and I will focus on the social responsibilities. You can read the introduction in part 1, the physical responsibilities in part 2, and the relational responsibilities in part […]

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