February is here, and stores have been pumping out Valentine's Day candy, cards, and ads since December 26. This season's focus on love and romance (but not St Valentine's beheading, oddly) can have some pretty heavy implications for teenagers: "am I expected to give my S.O. a gift?" "What if I'm single?" "Should I ask them out?" Appearance means a lot to teenagers, especially if they feel "left out" when it comes to relationships/dating. And there's a tumultuous sub-text beneath the trappings of a "perfect Valentine's Day": sex. More specifically, "who's having it?" "Who's not having it?" "Should I be having it?"
Tiptoeing around the topic of sex does nobody any favors (and I for one think it does more harm than help). Teenagers see sexualization everywhere, in media, advertisements, and more; as the adage goes, "sex sells." So that brings all of us to two important questions: what do YOU, as a parent, believe about sex, and what does YOUR TEEN believe about sex?
Whether you support an abstinence-only approach or believe in contraception education, your kids are curious; it's impossible for them not to be. This month, as "love is in the air," we encourage you to take a hard, critical look at 1) your own beliefs ("how would I feel about my kid having sex?") and 2) your expectations for your family. Then, after establishing or evaluating your own expectations, we recommend *gulp* talking to your teens. Do they know where you stand on premarital sex? Do they feel comfortable coming to you with questions about sex, their bodies, or anything else? Do you know if your kid is in a relationship, or how that relationship is going/progressing?
Without clear and open communication, teens can be left in a confusing, intimidating place. Talk to your kids about sex; we are praying for receptive ears and hearts for them, and for you, this Valentine's season.