Talking to Your Sons about Relationships, Sex, and Love: Six Tips for Parents
High teenage birth rates in the United States are the result of our culture which too often
discourages honest, informed conversations about self-esteem, bullying, peer pressure
and sex. After declining for 14 straight
years, the teen birth rate has increased 5% since 2005. At present, nearly three in ten girls get
pregnant by age 20. To date, much of the
research on teen and unplanned pregnancy has focused on girls and women. But the nearly 1.5 million teen girls and
single women in their early 20s who find themselves unintentionally pregnant
every year don't do so alone. Both our
young men and our young women need age-appropriate information to be able to
make thoughtful, safer and better-informed decisions that lead to a sexually
healthy life. Parents often
underestimate their influence when it comes to talking with their teens
(especially their sons) about love, values, relationships, and sex. But research supports the fact that what
parents say matters!
A recent study published by The National Campaign to
Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and Seventeen magazine offers an in-depth
look at what goes on in the minds and behaviors of boys and young men in terms
of sex and sexuality. That's What He Said: What Guys Think About Sex, Love,
Contraception, and Relationships, an on-line survey of 1,200 boys and men
ages 15-22, reiterates that sons are listening to their parents, even if they
don't always act like it. (Note: The survey includes non-gender specific as
well as gender-specific questions about relationships and sex.)
Here are some results of the survey and ideas to help
you get the conversations with your sons started and how to keep them going:
1. All parents are responsible for the conversations.
Sons would rather hear from their dads about sex and
protection and from their moms about feelings and relationships, so both
parents need to be involved. If a parent
is a single parent, helping a son find another trusting, caring adult of the
opposite sex is often helpful for ongoing conversations. High school-aged teens (61%) say their
parents influence their decisions about sex, and two-thirds who have discussed
pregnancy prevention with their parents say the conversation was helpful. If they
haven't asked you about relationships and sex, it doesn't mean they don't have
questions, so don't wait for them to come to you. Start the conversations now!
2. Remind them that sex and love are NOT the same thing.
When asked what makes a relationship serious, guys
ranked "the desire to be with someone and wanting to see a future with them"
highest on the list. 75% said "becoming exclusive and not dating anyone else,"
61% said "saying I love you," while 34% said "having sex." Support
your sons and reassure them that there are many good reasons to wait, such as
working towards their life goals, self-esteem, feelings as well
as avoiding pregnancy.
3. Reinforce the healthy attitudes they already have.
Relationships matter, sex is a big deal, and girls who
say no to sex or insist on using contraception deserve their respect. Three out of four young men think teens and
young adults take sex too lightly. Talk to your boys about how they feel and
encourage them to stand up for what they think is right.
4. Make sure your sons have the information they need before they're sexually active.
Nearly 4 in 10 high school-aged boys (39%) worry about
their parents finding out they're having sex, and less than half are comfortable
talking to either parent about sex. Talk to them early and often, point them to
helpful resources, and make sure they know that contraception is their
5. Girls aren't the only ones who feel pressure.
Nearly 8 out 10 young men say there is too much
pressure on them to have sex from society, friends and girls. More than half say they are relieved when a
girl doesn't want to have sex and 45% say they've had sex and regretted it
afterwards. Reassure your son that he
does not have to have sex.
|6. Be clear about what's right and what's wrong.|
It's never okay to have sex with someone who is drunk
(though nearly 1 in 3 guys say they have)
and it is never okay to pressure someone into having sex (though 11% of
guys admit they have). Make sure your sons know what is considered acceptable
behavior to your family and what you expect of them when it comes to
relationships, sex, and pregnancy.
Resource: That's What He Said: What Guys Think About Sex, Love,
Contraception, and Relationships, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and
Unplanned Pregnancy and Seventeen Magazine, 2009.
Quick Anatomy Fact
The urethra is a long, narrow tube that carries urine, liquid waste,
from the bladder, where it is stored, out of the body. Both males and females have a urethra.
In men, the urethra is inside the penis and empties
urine out through the small opening at its tip.
It is also the passageway through which semen leaves the male body
during ejaculation. When a male
ejaculates, muscles tighten and keep urine in his bladder so that urine does
not leave the penis at the same time as semen.
In women, the opening to the urethra
is quite small and is not one of the female's sex organs. It is a separate opening from the vagina and
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