Sue Scheff: Teens and Sex Education

sexedpicRecently I discovered an interesting and fantastic Blog/Website by Sarah Burningham.  She offers straight talk about teens – including those sensitive subjects that many parents will cringe with.  I love her blunt and direct advice and parenting tips.  Be sure to check it out – Sarah Burningham  is an Author and writes a column for ABC Family Website.

Let’s Talk about Sex…NOT the Birds and the Bees

By Sarah Burningham

While doing some research for my next writing project, I stumbled on an article in Time magazine called “How Should We Teach Our Kids About SEX?” (The article put “sex” in all caps – not me.)

Even though I mostly get questions from teens, I get some emails from parents, too. And the most common question in these parental emails deals with talking to their teenager (usually daughter) about sex. Not a surprise, really. Sex is a hot button topic.

My favorite line from the Time article is, “Just Do It. Just Say No. Just Wear a Condom. When it comes to sex, the message to America’s kids is confused and confusing.” That says it all. If parents are confused and grappling with how to talk about sex, how is a teenager supposed to feel comfortable going to her mom or dad with questions? (And every teenager I know has questions.)

So, I wanted to send one word of advice to all the parents out there: TALK.

I know every family is different. Some parents want their teens to wait until marriage. Some just want their teens to be safe. Others (like my father) would rather not think about sex at all when it comes to their daughters. (Although, kudos to my parents for talking to my anyway.)

But no matter how you feel, you must TALK. Your teenager is listening. And your teenager is smart. She doesn’t need you to beat around the bush. What do the birds and the bees have to do with it, anyway? The first time I heard the phrase “heavy petting” I thought of a petting zoo. Literally – goats, cows, the works. Yes, I got the real meaning eventually, but I wish my mom would have just been straight with me from the get-go. Dating and figuring yourself out as a teenager is complicated enough. No need to throw terms like “petting” into the mix.

So instead of having one formal sit-down conversation in 5th grade to cover all the bases (BAD) or ignoring the subject completely (WORSE), open up to the idea that the sex talk is ongoing. And then do it. Talk.

Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahBurningham