When it comes to your teen and sex, what kind of parent are you?
Do you feel it is important to provide a safe atmosphere to engage in the ‘inevitable’ act of your teen having sex, under your roof? Or are you explicit and clear that sexual activity will not be tolerated and disallow your teen to be alone with a boy/girl friend under your roof. Teenage sex at home, IS OCCURING, whether we like it or not. But should it occur at home or elsewhere?
The debates on the issue have been reveled on such high profile shows as ABC News and The View, and parents on both sides of the issue are engaging in volatile discussions about the matter.
Parents allowing the behavior, feel as though they are ultimately connected to teen culture and realize that their children are going to have sex anyways. They strongly believe that not encouraging, but allowing the behavior in their homes ensures that the kids have a safe and clean environment, and provides a safety net for them to fall back on. These are some things that a random hotel room or back seat of a car, will not provide. Perhaps more liberal than most, these parents also feel that the behavior shows their children they accept their choices in life, and are comfortable with their kids letting go. And of course, they feel strongly that they don’t want to force their kids to engage in dangerous and risqué behavior sneaking out of the house, being at unknown places all hours of the night, and engaging in deception to be with their partners. Most of the parents paneled on ABC News, also strongly maintained that they only allowed the teenage sleepover, when their partner was long term.
The ‘not under my roof parents,’ strongly disagree. These parents feel that allowing teens to sleep together in the family home actually encourages sexual behavior and sends kids the message that having sex at a young age is acceptable, and okay with them. They believe that the behavior of allowing teens to host bisexual sleepovers removes boundaries that MUST be existent in teen’s lives. Opponents feel that allowing teens to have sex is unsafe, irresponsible and destroys the sanctity of the home.
Another issue that comes up with parents who allow teens to sleep together or spend ample amounts of times together unsupervised in their rooms with members of the opposite sex, is that they could be making decisions for other parents. If your son is allowed to have girls in his room, yet his girlfriends parents strongly disagree with the issue – obvious problems can ensue. Chances are HER parents have no idea that they two are coupling alone together, or that this behavior is allowed. Then the girl will start lying, saying is she sleeping over at a friends house, only to be spending the night with her boyfriend.
It’s hard to decide if the issue is about sex or about letting go. The normal course of raising children says that they have to prove their independence and ability to care for themselves before parents can start accepting the fact that they are sexually active. Sex among teens is seen as irresponsible behavior, unwarranted and unacceptable in the main stream – until these ‘children’ can prove themselves as adults. Heck, they cannot even buy a beer legally, yet they are considered ‘responsible’ enough to have sex? And yet, 82% of all high school juniors and seniors admit to engaging in sexual activity (not necessarily intercourse), behind a parents back, with their partners.
When it comes to letting go – American parents also aren’t very good at it, compared to parents from around the world. This is especially true as it pertains to sex. Many parents in other countries such as Canada, and those located in Europe are much less than squeamish when it comes to their teens having sex. And interestingly, teens in many countries outside the United States have laxed rules compared to those standard in the US. According to CBS News, the teens in these other countries are faring as a whole, much better than the teens in the United States, with less violence, higher graduation rates and lower teenage pregnancy rates.
Could it be that treating our teens as adults, expecting adult behavior, and providing safe havens for such behavior leads to teens being more responsible?
Truth is, that most parents disagree, strongly – with the idea of allowing their teen to have a sleepover with their partner in their home. The stance, “Not under my roof,” is about setting firm boundaries with teens, mandating expectations and sending the message that while they live with mom and dad, mom and dad are the ones whose moral fabric will be quilted into the family blanket that provides the rules the family will live by. If parents hold the stance that abstinence or waiting is expected, it does and WILL have an affect on the children.
The popular organization, Stay Teen, which encourages teenage abstinence provide some pretty amazing statistics about sex and teens. Around half of all teens, under the age of 17 – are still virgins. At 18 and 19 years old, these numbers drop drastically. This seems to indicate that if the goal is abstinence, something is being done right in many homes across the United States. Even so, as a parent – you have to come to the realization that eventually, likely much sooner than you would like, your child will be engaging in sex. The choice to provide a safe place to do it, or not is definitely a personal one.