And if you, as a parent, truly feel unable to have such conversations, I hope you will consider trusting their therapist to do so in a respectful, nonjudgmental and professional manner. Studies from the Netherlands actually found that teens who were knowledgeable about sex abstained longer, had fewer sexual partners, were less likely to have STDs and unwanted pregnancy and were more likely to describe sexual experiences as reciprocal and respectful. And yet, we miss them entirely in the process. Our children are looking to us, as they always have, for cues about how to feel and how to navigate their world. In her most recent book, Girls and Sex:
Navigating the Complicated New Landscape, Peggy Orenstein addresses this issue with compelling research and testimonies from young women as they reflect on their adolescent sexual experiences.
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A public health issue: My hope for our daughters, and my clients, is that they feel cared about, heard, understood and above all, safe. And I hope they know how wonderful, worthy and deserving they are, and seek out relationships with people who reflect that truth. What we need are more conversations- though they be awkward and uncomfortable- with our children about sex, intimacy, and healthy relationships. Talking to teenagers is hard work — especially for parents. Not discussing sex increases shame, which ensures that it stays hidden and secret, which contributes to inaccurate knowledge about safety and prevention. Looking back with the hindsight of lessons learned the hard way, we speak to them as if speaking to our younger selves: