close-up of a teenage couple kissing each other
Teenagers are having sex.
Whether we like it, condone it or threaten to lock them in their rooms for the next several years like our parents did, it’s just a part of life.
Does this fact exhilarate me? No. It leaves me pensive because I’m fully aware of the repercussions that come their way by having sex well before they’re ready. Especially the girls.
I want to grab and shake them and somehow let them know they’re good enough — that they don’t have to seduce young men with their body to feel loved. The results they’re looking for are rarely, if ever, yielded.
However, my generation did it. My parents’ generation did it. What would possess me to believe I could change the generational misjudgments of the undeveloped brain?
And then it occurs to me. Maybe it’s adults that could use a lesson in assisting them through this part of life.
Our daughters go off seeking the attention of boys for a few reasons. One, it’s normal. It’s a part of human nature. Their body tells them to do it. Two, they are trying to fill a void. They aren’t feeling loved at home. They feel like their world is always crashing down and we don’t understand anything they’re going through.
They take the stress we exude and somehow internalize it as their fault. Maybe we could love them better. Yes, we know we love them. But do they?
I recently had a discussion with a mom regarding her discovery of her daughter’s sexual activity. She’s vehemently against it and very angry at her daughter. She told me that she had some guilt over the things she said in the heat of the moment. She was upset her daughter engaged in acts meant to be beautiful and special when she was older.
She also couldn’t believe that her daughter could do this to her.
Did we do things as teens believing we were doing them “to” our parents? I don’t recall my parents being much of a factor in my poor judgment most of the time.
They seemed to come into play only when I made a good decision. And my poor choices weren’t as much a reflection of their failure as it was my own.
Let’s look at how our daughters hear our ferocious response from their perspective. They are potentially yelled at, grounded and informed of the disappointment they’ve inflicted.
Sometimes, they’re made to feel guilty and told every reason why what they did is wrong and dirty.
Is the response about their well-being or our lack of ability to discuss it calmly with them?
I’m not implying we should condone it. I am saying, however, that we’re raising adults. We’re trying to send our kids into a world where they spend predominately most of their time as adults, not children.
We focus so much on the negative, the possible consequences and our difficulty in dealing with the situation that we might be failing to see the consequences of our own actions.
We suppress our daughters and tell them everything we can to avoid the pitfalls of dating and high school love that isn’t really anything more than a temporary crush, hoping to protect them.
At some point, however, we will send them down the aisle and tell them to forget all the negatives we attached to sex and encourage them to enjoy their marriage. Marinate on that for a while and consider the long-term consequences.
The power we have over our children’s minds lasts a lifetime. And I’m not sure with the divorce rate as high as it is, and sex being an integral part of marriage, that the approach often taken is the correct one.
Maybe a little more education and communication on both generations’ parts could go a long way. Perhaps learning to discuss things openly with our kids would open a door and fill the void that first prompted them to look for love in the wrong place.
Heather Tempesta is a mother of two boys, 16 and 9, and a girl, 14.Scripps Howard News Service