Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Title: Teen Sex - Counseling

Category: Positive Parenting


      In America today teens are having sex more than in any time in our past history.  Of 8 million 13 to 14 year old, one and a half  million or 1 in 5, have had sex.  About one fourth of 15 year old girls and one third of 15 year old boys are sexually active.  About 77% of all teens up to age 20 and 86% of males are sexually active.  These statistics are surprising in light of the numerous sexually transmitted diseases including the deadly AIDS virus.  Besides catching dread diseases and possibly dying, a fairly high percentage of these teens go on to get pregnant.  Studies show that many of the teenagers, particularly early in their sexual history, do not use any form of contraception.

      The statistics of suffering from sexually transmitted disease in teens is extremely saddening.  The statistics of pregnancy is also saddening, in my opinion, in that half of the girls who do go on to give birth never complete high school.  A very high percentage of these young ladies live the rest of their lives below the poverty level.  Being a young pregnant teen also increases the risk to the mother and the baby including toxemia, anemia and prematurity of the infant.

      Studies indicate that about 1/5 of first premarital pregnancies in teens occurs within the first month after intercourse begins and 1/2 occur after the first 6 months.  These statistics are all sobering and should wake up not only the teens but also their parents. 

     Are we discussing sexuality with our teenagers, sons as well as daughters?  Are we preparing them for healthy sexuality in marriage and discussing abstinence as a safe option guaranteed to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy?   Are we tying this message to our personal faith and discussing it openly and honestly with our children?  I hope that most of my fellow parents of teens are.  I certainly am and I know that my daughters and soon to be teenage son are growing up in a much different world than I did 25 years ago.  The message of free sex and "everyone's doing it" and "if it feels good, do it" displayed by shows on television and today's movies is disturbing to me as a parent.  I feel an obligation to discuss these messages with my children openly and hear out their views so that I can help teach them to see through these fallacies.  I also believe, as a Catholic and a Christian, I owe it to my children to teach them what the church stands for and what Jesus taught in the New Testament as well as the teachings of the Old Testament.  I certainly hope and pray that my children respect the individuals they date and consider very carefully their motives as well as the motives of their dates. 

      Healthy sexuality involves a lot of cuddling of our children from the time they are infants.  A young girl who is never held in her father's arms and told that she is loved experiences confusion and a need for affirmation as a female.  Young boys also need affection throughout their life not only from their mothers but also from their fathers.  I recommend to parents that they hug and kiss their children daily and affirm them by reminding them how precious they are to you and by noticing them as they grow up, experience puberty and become young adults.     All teens want to feel part of the group.  The pull to go along with the majority is very strong and only a very strong- willed teen with definite goals in life who has thought about morals, consequences and life choices, will have the strength to say no to temptation when things go too far.  I am sure many people take sex in teens for granted and think my advice is naive.  Nevertheless, I feel obligated to share the current days statistics and the advice not only of my personal experience  but several parenting authors  who write about teen  sexuality such as Dr. James Dobson,  Dr. Kevin Leeman, and Dr.Ross Campbell. I recommend reading these three books for guidance in helping your teens through these stormy years.

      If your daughter does become pregnant, I recommend strong family support with consultation with both your pediatrician and obstetrician and consideration of adoption as a good option.  I believe adoption counseling is a wise option for all birth mothers.  Information can be obtained from the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on Early Childhood Adoption and Independent Care by writing to the American Academy of Pediatrics,  P. O. Box 927, Elk Grove Village, IL 60009- 0927.  Also information and advice can be obtained from the Child Welfare League of America, 440 First St. NW, Suite 310, Washington, DC  20001 or (202)- 637-2952.  There are also many good adoption agencies throughout the state of Louisiana.