What Kids Need: Sexual Restraint

Kids believe that it is essential to abstain from sex, according to the Search Institute’s youth survey of nearly three million kids.  Most are willing to postpone becoming sexually active; however, only 36% report having this asset in their lives in the same poll.  Why?

I believe part of it is because parents don’t openly talk with their kids about sex–or as honestly as you can, as is developmentally appropriate.  There are many resources that a parent can seek to learn the best way to approach talking about sex with their kids: books, internet parenting sites, counselors, and other adults with whom you trust.  Share with your kids your values about why you feel it is important not to be sexually active.  Help them see unnamed individuals who have made other choices and how it has shaped their lives for the worse.

When we openly talk with our kids about sex, they begin to think about their beliefs.  As parents, if we do not do this, kids start to shape their ideas from other kids, older and younger, with whom they associate, and then their attitudes become more challenging to develop as parents.  What age is soon enough?  It depends on the young person.  Kids will begin asking questions way too early, way early than a frank answer, my merit.  But answering them at their developmentally appropriate level begins the process, which may take several months or even years.  Eventually, as a parent, you will know that it is just time to break the barrier to discussing it openly and sharing your values and standards with them.

Encourage your kids to commit themselves and their future significant other to abstain from having sex while in school.  Kids find that once they have made that commitment, it frees them from the sexual pressures other kids experience.  It gives them a chance to enjoy their childhood and to be a kid again.  If you have teenagers who are already sexually active, then encourage them to reconsider their choice and help them understand the value of waiting until they are ready to accept the responsibilities of having sex entirely.

As adults, teach your kids and model appropriate ways to show affection.  Things like holding hands, talking with each other while sitting quietly, or just enjoying a sunset on a beautiful evening.  I challenge parents today to consider how they will approach the sex topic with their kids and begin to work out their process for unfolding the family’s values.

I have a post on using Empathy at What Kids Need: Empathy – Dr. Rich Patterson (pattersonphd.com) that may be helpful.

KidsHealth.org has a wonderful article on Answering Questions About Sex which may be helpful at Answering Questions About Sex (for Parents) – Nemours KidsHealth


Yours for Better Parenting,