From Playdates to Tinder, Talking to Teens & In-Betweens About Sex
By Wendy Mandell-Geller
These meaningful words should be told over and over to our children from the first time you leave them on a play date to the time they are running out the door on a Tinder meet-up that you might not approve of. Why? They work!
We all want our kids to have a good time when they go out with friends. The picture of them laughing together, working on a project together, exercising together or just shooting the breeze is fine with us.
However, once our children reach a certain age and they get to know one another more intimately, they need to be prepared for what might happen next, or it won’t be fun for them. Young love, lust and feelings can be some of life’s best memories, but our children need to be taught to be more careful than ever when it comes to partner sexual responsibilities, as it’s not usually the same as portrayed in movies or on television. Realistically, the super important parts are left out, such as how to decide on and use protection unless you wish to become pregnant or risk getting a sexual disease (50% of our high-schoolers and college age kids will get one, according to the CDC), and how to ask for or say no to consenting to sex.
Tell your children to remain in control of themselves at all times and to be aware of their surroundings – they should always have a plan in their heads of “How to get out of here if I must?”, whether it be that a fire breaks out or they are physically or emotionally threatened and they need an excuse to leave. Having a predetermined plan helps protect them from those things.
As a mother of three boys, I was always shouting these things at them as they were running out the door. At first it was off to school, then it was off to a sleepover, and now it is off to the bar or club. Talking about the dangers of sex and how to properly ask someone for consent is/has always been an ongoing discussion with my children. Every parent at some point talks to their children about the general basis behind sex, publicly deemed “The Talk,” but when was the last time someone told you something and you remembered everything?
“I Love You!”
Whether spoken aloud or sent through text, every child needs to be reminded their parents love them. The reason “The Talk” exists is because our babies have grown up into young adults and soon will learn the roller coaster that life takes you on. “The Talk” is not a quick in-and-out strategy to avoid the awkwardness that comes with the topic, but should be a starting point in every parent-child relationship of “The Discussion.”
“The Discussion” educates children and young adults on sex, empowers them to speak-up and gives them the confidence they need to be successful as they enter college and life. A two-way conversation, “The Discussion” allows not only for more transparency within the parent-child relationship but it also encompasses moral rights and wrongs. We teach our children to always wear a seatbelt, but it is up to them whether or not to heed our warning. We will not be there standing over them when they have their first kiss or have their first drink, and at that pivotal point in their life, would you want your child to learn what to do should something go wrong from you or from their friends? You decide!
Remember that being a protective parent does not necessarily mean you are an overbearing parent – you are giving your children the tools they need to safely navigate the world as they grow up. There will be situations where a decision must be made, and sometimes you are not there to help them. By telling your children, “Have fun! Be safe! I love you!” you are preparing them to be able to handle these situations in the most safe and mature way possible.
Wendy Mandell-Geller invented the free YES to SEX app to open a window of conversation worldwide for all gender partners to discuss sexual consent and agree on sexual protection.