On parental accessibility

So…  Those condom ads I posted earlier in the week?  Those are funny.  Damn funny, if I do say so myself.  But they’re not terribly educational.  Or at all educational.  So what’s the point?

The point is that because they’re funny, they’re accessible and they make the topic accessible.  American society (along with a few others I suspect…) makes sex a highly taboo topic, and hard for teenagers and adults alike to discuss with open hearts and open minds.  We’re scared that our kids are going to have sex too young and too often and with too many people.  We’re scared that our parents will refuse to let us see our boyfriends and girlfriends and will think less of us.  We’re scared that someone will get hurt, that everyone will get hurt, that lives with high potential will be dragged down with a baby or that someone will die.

But not talking about it isn’t going to solve any of these problems – in fact, it will only make them worse.

I spent some hours yesterday working on a piece for teenagers talking about how to approach their parents to talk about sex.  But the fact is, just not enough parents are open to the conversation.  I know that I’m preaching to the choir a bit here, but please just humor me for a moment.

Teenagers are terrified of talking to their parents about sex, birth control, periods, and so many other things that most of them desperately want help with!  And I want to tell them, “Run to your parents!  Tell them everything!  They will love you and support you and get you birth control!”

But I can’t.

Not when there are so many parents who would be angry, violent, punishing, and just generally turn it into a very bad situation.  I am so sad that there are parents who think that is the best way to keep their teenagers from having sex, and even more that there are parents who think that keeping their teenagers from having sex is more important than maintaining a relationship with their teenagers.

So back to: I’m preaching to the choir here.  I expect that if you’re reading my blog, and you’ve gotten this far, you agree that parents need to talk with their kids and teenagers about sex in age-appropriate ways and to provide the ways and means for teenagers to have safe sex.  But I don’t necessarily expect that you know how to do those things.

So right now, right this moment, e-mail your kids a funny condom commercial.  Put in the subject line: “If you ever need any, e-mail me, and I’ll get you some.  Same goes for the pill.”  And then do it again every six months or so.  Because even when parents offer, teenagers don’t always take them up – because they aren’t interested at the moment.  But four, five, six months down the line they are interested, and they suddenly realize they don’t know how to bring up the subject again.  So you have to.

In other news, I’m about half way through a final draft of my book – so hopefully soon you’ll have far more than just this one little piece of how-to with regards to building a positive conversation about sex with your teenagers.  (The last piece that I am looking for with the book is someone to do some line drawings/cartoons to illustrate it.  If you, or someone you know, might be able to do such a thing, please let me know!)

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.