What one word comes to mind, that gets more attention than any other word the moment it's said? I'm pretty sure you guessed it! Sex! Yes, the word "sex" seems to get more heads turning and ears perking then any other word. Sex is an act that can be harmful, or pleasant. It's a topic parents dread, and churches fear. It’s on our phones, in our video games, books, magazines, movies, tv, schools, home and conversations. It’s all around, open and hidden. It strikes curiosity, causes shame, blame and secrets. It can be used for love, sold, taken or given for free.
With sex being in our face on a regular basis, how do we handle talking about it to our teens? Have we become desensitize to the sexualized culture that we think seeing it everywhere is ok? IF you choose NOT to have a conversation about sex with your teen or even pre-teen, for that matter, I can pretty much guarantee they WILL get information from somewhere! How accurate “that information is” is another story. We have done such a disservice to our young people by NOT sharing with them what should be shared. One reason we don't talk about "sex" with our teen is, well hey its awkward. And if we close our eyes long enough and turn away from the conversation, it may just go away! WRONG! Nice try! That doesn't stop them from having questions! But will it stop you from having answers?
Should our teens be having sex or not? Some people think they "need experience" so when they get married they will know what to do. Other's say, "all teens have sex, so what does it matter." What do YOU say? Because it really does matter! Your teen really does want to hear from you, their parent, on the subject. Even if they act like they don't! They may not come right out and say, "Hey, could you talk to me about sex, and should I be having it?" That doesn't mean they don't want to know what you have to say.
I've had a seventh grade boy tell me, his dad gave him a box of condoms for him to keep in his draw so he wouldn't have to ask his dad for condoms when he decide to have sex.
I heard a sophomore girl from a Christian school, talk very loud and proud about all the things she had done sexually. Her parents didn't know, but everyone else did!
I've seen the face of sophomore guys in shock after seeing a sexual exposer chart as one guy whispered under his breath, "I've had so many partners the number is not even on the chart".
I've heard many guys and girls tell me about their addiction to porn with the easy access from their smart phone, as well as girls sending nude pics because the guy asked and she trusted him.
I've heard the sorrow of many heartbroken girls and guys after they've given themselves away to someone they thought cared.
So many stories, and so many lives, some with STD's/STI's, pregnancy, abortion, fear, pain, broken hearts, shattered dreams, and for what? For a quick moment of so called pleasure, that has left so many young people broken and with regret.
Many teens have suffered because they have believed the lies that sex before marriage is not harmful and you should do it if you "love" the person or hey because you just want too. I gotta ask, how many people did you "love" when you were a teen? How long did that "love" last? How long did it actually take you to really know what "love" is? For some adults they are still trying to figure that out! Sex isn't meant for "love" it's meant for pleasure in a faithful marriage relationship because of "love".
I know and understand that it can be difficult to talk to your kids about the big "S" word. The sex talk doesn't have to be something you sit down with your child for countless hours of uncomfortable conversation. Don't make it any more awkward then it already is by not knowing what to say or by lack of accurate information. Get prepared by getting informed. That in itself will build your confidence in having chats about sex with your teen and pre-teen. Remember IF YOU don't someone will!!
Connecting: this word and action has definitely taken a different meaning and direction within the last few years! We now "connect" with "friends" on all sorts of social media avenues, and we are always looking for new "friends" to "connect" and share our life stories with. Which hey, can be fun not to mention time consuming, life absorbing, and battery draining!
Social media is fun, because we all love to be entertained! I know I do!!! Movies are my first choice, if you must know! And what better way to be entertained than with the wonderful smart phone we all have come to love and adore that never has to leave our hands. It has crept its way into our lovely lives from kids to adults to "connect" us to family, friends and then some...so we think!
Whats YOUR dinner table like now because of the addition of smart phones to your family? Do you even sit at a dinner table together? IF you do, is everyone too busy on their devise doing their own thing, that they don't even notice whose at the table? Remember not so long ago, you used to tell your teens "No phones at the table"? And how mad you were that you even had to say that, because you couldn't understand what the big obsession was with their phone, but now you are the one who has your phone at the table and everywhere else. My the times...very short times, have changed!
Can anyone even recall a life before the era of SMART PHONES?! Wait...I may have a slight, very slight recollection of my life and how insignificant it was, even though I didn't know it, before I fell into the SMART PHONE ball and chain trap! It all seemed, much more, hmmmm...what's the word, FREE! No wonder I don't want to remember those relaxing days. Because what is supposed to make our life easier has some how made us addicted to what we now call "connected".
I'd like to talk about another way of connecting, one that has lost a bit of its flare. Why? Because it isn't with the latest pic, video, or phrase as you scroll your life away. The in person, face to face, real life conversation with a tangible human being is a vital way of connecting but is quickly becoming obsolete and actually even striking fear in some people. Crazy, I know, but true!
We must be conscious of our time on our phones and start pouring into the lives of those around us. We still only get one life! WE still lead by example. Teens do need you to talk to them in a real life, face to face conversation with real life words from your mouth as well as actual eye contact. They still need physical and mental connections with you as their parent, grandparent, relative, and friend. Believe it or not! It's so important now more than ever to find out what interests them, besides social media. How are we training the next generations?
This will not be an easy task, just to let you know! First of all, you, we, the adult, has to get off our phone long enough to even notice that our kids are on theirs and realize we may have an addiction ourselves. And that in itself is hard to admit, without pointing to someone else to say how much they are on their phone! That finger pointing game, for some reason makes us feel better about ourself not being as bad as they are.
Once you come to terms with your own smart phone addiction you may now address your teen! Sit down and have a chat about what the plan is to getting back to connecting with each other. Get their opinion at what you can do together to keep everyone off the phone and engaged in real life and come to a good compromise. Doing it together helps take the dramatics level down. Still be prepared for them to freak out and get mad because you are taking their phone away, and thats not fair! That tends to happen when we don't want to let go of something we hold so tightly. Be calm and talk about new guidelines you will have for their phones and yours. Times you won't have them on, like meal time because that will now be family time. And make it just that, by talking, yes talking at the dinner table, about their day, whats going on at school, etc. and LISTEN! Laugh and have a good time making memories at the table! Maybe you will collect all phones by 9:00 pm, and when they say, I need it for my alarm, hand them an actual alarm clock that has batteries in it already. They WILL fight you on this! Boy will they fight! Hey, they did live without a phone not to long ago and were completely fine, breathing, walking and talking. They will learn that again. I say LEARN because it is all learned behavior, that now has to be unlearned! It WILL take time, but when you look back at your decisions to do these things to truly re-connect your family, you will NOT be disappointed that you did them. Despite the struggle to get back to where you and your teen were before those darn SMART PHONES!
Continue to find fun new ways to connect to the people who live with you! Have a jar for everyone to put three or more fun activities in and each week draw one out and do it. Ask them what they would like to do, within reason of course, and do it! You may have to tell them to get off the couch and turn the tv off because we are going to go for a walk, play catch, ride bikes, make cookies, get ice cream, or whatever it is, and don't take NO for an answer. Be on purpose, and have fun, because it matters!