06-27-2019 01:58 PM
Supporting teens with their sexuality
The teenage years are a time when many young people start to discover their sexuality. Sexuality includes feelings and attraction on all different levels. While this is a common part of teenage life, it can also be a confusing time for young people and their families.
Parents often come to ReachOut to talk about their teen’s sexuality. Everyone goes through the process of understanding and becoming comfortable with their sexuality. People can be aware of their sexuality from a young age, but may not have the words to talk about it until they’re older.
ReachOut has been working hard behind the scenes to create articles for young people and parents around the topic of sexuality, and supporting young people who may be questioning their sexuality. We hope you can join in the community discussion here- we will be posting a few different questions over the coming week so stay tuned!
Part 1: What is sexuality?
Sexuality is about understanding the sexual feelings and attractions we feel towards others. There are different types of sexuality, and it can take time to figure out what fits right with each individual- sexuality is unique to every person! Some people are attracted to only one sex, and others are attracted to a diversity of people regardless of sex or gender, with a lot of different preferences in-between.
While you can’t make your teen talk to you, you can help them feel supported and safe to confide in you if and when they are ready.
How can parents support teens who might be questioning their sexuality?
Many young people are still exploring and understanding their sexuality- in time they will figure out what feels right. For some people this might be choosing to identify with a label related to sexuality, others might not feel they fit with any label or that chosen label changes over time. Wherever your teen is at with understanding their sexuality and who they are attracted to, there are things you can do as a parent to make teens feel safe to talk about sexuality if and when they are ready to.
As a community, we have such a wide range of parents, families and experiences represented. Let’s take the opportunity as a community to brainstorm how parents can support their teen with their sexuality.
How comfortable do you feel to have a conversation with your teen about sexuality?
If you have had a discussion with your teen about sexuality, how did you make sure your teen felt safe and supported?
What advice would you give to other parents who may be looking to support their teen around sexuality?
06-27-2019 03:31 PM
My first foray into this as a dad was to take my 14 yr old daughter and 12 yr old son to the supermarket and showing them how to buy condoms. We made it a bit of a joke, the kind of joke when you know that under the mucking about there is a serious message being given.
My first serious discussion was when my 15 old son started asking for his girlfriend to stay over it was trigger for me to have a talk with him. I know they teach about the physical part of sex at school but I still felt as a father I needed to provide some guidance to my son.
It was quite uncomfortable for me but the stakes are high when you child starts into what looks like a relationship that can end up in them having sex. IMHO there is a big role still for parents in guiding their children in this space, even if it was not comfortable for either of us.
I started the conversation off by saying I wanted to talk about his girlfriend and her staying over. That while I know he has been told about sex at school I wanted make sure I told him about the importance of respect for his girl and the importance of contraception. Our first conversation was fairly short because as soon as we got onto contraception he shut it down saying they were not having sex. At the time I believed him because they way were together seemed so innocent to me.
Fast forward a few months and I raised it again and this time he was more willing to discuss the importance of contraception stating he knew about it and would make sure everything was under control. I found out his girlfriend was not on the contraceptive pill (like so many mid/late teens are) and that gave me a scare.
Still he assured me I had nothing to worry about.
My son and his girl are in a committed caring relationship but I don't think I will ever stop being concerned about what accident could happen but then I wouldn't want my children to miss out on loving relationship..
I guess as a parent I am doomed to worry about my children's lives forever!
06-28-2019 04:18 PM
Hey there @PapaBill,
Thank you for sharing your experiences with your kids and sex. It can be really uncomfortable talking about the topic of sex with your kids, though as you've said it is definitely an important discussion to have. It sounds like you did a great job of opening that discussion up with your son, thank you for sharing
The video above also shares some great tips about opening the discussion such as being a safe space for them to open up to. It also gives a fantastic explanation into the differences between sex, sexuality and gender as sometimes, when a young person is talking about sexuality, they may be referring to sex, but it could also be a discussion around who they attracted to.
08-16-2019 04:05 PM
Thought it would be good share some of the discussions we have been having with on the youth forum about sexuality and being a part of the bisexual and pansexual community.