As a , I have observed the struggle parents and kids have discussing sex and sexuality with each another. As a parent of three teenagers, I have experienced that struggle.
And although there seems to be a plethora of information and concern over the difficulties that parents face, there seems to be far less regard for the discomfort that children may feel over the issue.
In reviewing the results of the 2010 With One Voice Study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, children are clearly interested in having a dialogue with parents about sex.
Almost half of teens surveyed said that parents most influence their decisions about sex; 20 percent who cited their friends as most influential.
Eighty percent of teens indicated that it would be much easier to delay sexual activity and avoid teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations about the topics with their parents.
And 62 percent wish they were able to talk more openly about sex and relationships with their parents.
So given that there is a desire and willingness for discussion and, most important, that kids are influenced by parents' input, why do kids find it difficult to discuss sex, sexuality and relationships with their parents?
When I questioned a group of teenagers (I found it significant that they all wished to remain anonymous), their responses were similar and can be summed up with: “It’s just weird.”
One 18-year-old girl put it this way, “It’s just hard to think your parents know about all that stuff and harder to think they will know that stuff about you!”
The kids did indicate that if parents approached it casually, “not lecturing,” they would be OK talking with them.
“It would be cool to talk with them. I mean, I guess they know all about it. Just as long as they don’t make it a lecture, or too judgmental, or too much personal information. That could be awkward," said one 15-year-old boy.
So the reason sex is a difficult topic to discuss between parents and kids appears allusive. Perhaps it’s simply one of those laws of nature. Perhaps the difficulty comes from generations of socialization and sexual repression.
The teens I spoke with could only offer “weird” as the reason. Whatever the case, it’s encouraging that kids are receptive to the idea. And if parents can remember to keep the lecturing and judgments to a minimum, kids and parents just may win the struggle.