As part of maturing, your young teen is starting to experience sexual desire. This is partly due to the developmental changes going in their brain as well as the influence of sexual hormones.
It is a normal process in the body.
I have never been supportive of the “scared straight” technique; the idea that if you scare them, you can inhibit your adolescent’s sexual desire.
I believe it is important that they DO learn about the possibility of pregnancy and the threat of sexually transmitted disease (STDs). However, these topics should not be used as weapons against sexual desire.
A more positive parenting approach begins by exploring your own perspective on what it means to have a healthy sexual desire. It always begins with you on this important topic because how you feel about it is what you will project to your child.
Here are three suggestions to consider when approaching this topic:
- Begin by being thorough in your teaching of the structure and function of their reproductive system. I have written three age-appropriate books that teach about the reproductive system. The third in each series, I’m a Boy, Hormones! and I’m a Girl, Hormones! are a complete discussion of this information. Using this third level book as your resource will assure that your child has the depth of knowledge they need to thoroughly understand their reproductive system.
- Conquer your own inhibitions about this topic so that you can have open discussions with your child. Let them know that you understand that changes are going on in their body and that as part of those changes they are going to be curious about sex. Help them by explaining to them that having a healthy sexual desire is normal and good.
- They also need to hear that the expression of sexual desire is more than the physical act of sex or intercourse with another person. The emotional component is equally important. This will be the challenge for them. Sex involves two people and although they want their own needs met, how they go about doing that makes all the difference. Respect is the central element of a healthy sexual relationship; respecting their own body and respecting the other person’s body as well. Sadly, pornography teaches the opposite of this and it is important you draw those comparisons for your child.
Ignoring It Won’t Make It Go Away
Ignoring the topic of sexual desire will not make it go away, either in your mind or in your maturing adolescent’s mind. It is a normal biological process and silence on your part does not change the biology.
I completely understand how difficult it is for you to talk with your adolescent about this deeply personal topic, but who will be teaching them if it isn’t you?
This is not a one “good talk” experience. You have several years as they mature through middle school and high school so take your time and create a relationship with your child that embraces openness and caring.