Your children know a lot already, but they think they know a lot more than they do, and a lot of what they know just is not so. What they know something about is the mechanics, but much less about values and right and wrong. They wonder about love, about how and what to do with whom sexually. They want to know what love is, what it means, how you know when you are in love. Start talking about that openly and see how much

discussion takes place. Another guideline is that the more they pretend to know, the more mechanical and mythological their knowledge really is. Teens seldom come to you and say, “You know, Mom and Dad, I’m really very vulnerable and immature. Your experience is so much broader than mine. Could you please fill me in?” Such statements may occur only when there is emergency need to use the family car, not when there is real need to know.

There are really four basic areas that need to be addressed. These are what I call the “BARE” facts. Â stands for biology. As I have said, many kids have learned something about the basic biology of sex. You may want to make sure all four, not just the first three perspectives of sexuality, are a part of your children’s biological knowledge. Most formal sex education emphasizes the same genital/energy approach of the early sex perspectives, not the fourth perspective of this twenty-first-century marriage manual.

A stands for attitudes. They need to know yours, you need to know theirs. What is their attitude toward premarital sex and intercourse, abortion, masturbation, various sexual behaviors and preferences?

R stands for reproduction. They need to know about menstruation, conception and contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, responsibility for sex, children, and family.

E stands for emotion. They need to know about your feelings, be able to clarify and express their own feelings. An important warning here! Your feelings, their feelings, change. Sometimes they may shock you and test you. Give it some time. They may try a feeling out for a while. Teenagers particularly use the “feeling for a day” system of trying out for life. They are less moody than they act, and they do tend to “act” moody. Don’t overreact, because overreaction is what they are testing for and afraid of, in you and within themselves. When you overreact, teens go from the more acceptable playacting and testing of parents to acting-out, which almost always signals unexpressed feelings of helplessness.


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