Bonnie Rough echoes many comprehensive sex educators in her assertion that it is often adult discomfort with the idea of children being sexual beings, or an inability to see things like nudity in a non-sexual light, that drives the way they interact with children’s sexuality. She’s honest about the ways in which she, and many other well-meaning parents, can be so focused on how they can prevent negative outcomes of sex that they inadvertently reinforce harmful, sex-negative messages. She poses an alternate question for parents to ponder in place of merely thinking about how to prevent negative outcomes: what are my hopes and dreams for my children in their sexual lives?
Unless you live under a very large rock, odds are good you've heard some statistics and research about adolescent minds and neurochemistry and how they are still doing a lot of developing through the early to mid-twenties.
Yes, the adolescent brain makes impulsive behavior more likely. But that doesn't mean that teens and emerging adults don't know what they want, who they are now, or what they're talking about.
You've probably seen all kinds of adults writing about teens and sex. Some of that writing is well-researched and thoughtful. Some -- most, sadly -- is hysterical and full of fearmongering and shoddy (or no) research. I was lucky enough to interview an author who belongs solidly in the first category.
Ways to connect with the teens in your life
What can you do to stay connected without becoming the main component of their social lives?
Helping a teen through a break-up
If the teen in your life is dating, odds are there's a break-up in their future and yours. Break-ups suck, and they suck the most for the person experiencing them. But that doesn't mean it's pleasant to watch someone you love go through one, and you may feel at a loss as to how to handle it. Here are some tips to help you go about it.
Messages parents or guardians have given our users about gender come up frequently, and often problematically. As feminists and queer activists, we address gender stereotyping often in our content and conversations around women and gender nonconforming people of many stripes (or polka dots, whichever one prefers), and we know the weight of it all too well. But gender stereotyping is not just everybody’s problem, it’s a problem for everybody, and that includes for men, and the problems, for everybody, many gender stereotypes about men create.
Our societies are chock full of norms and ideals of beauty, and we all run up against them eventually. These norms and expectations often have a hand in shaping how we feel about our own bodies. When you're a teen and trying to sort out how to feel comfortable in your changing body, these messages can be very potent indeed.
So, what can you do - and what shouldn't you do - to help teens feel at home in their own skin?