Ophelia: Mothers Share their Wisdom in Navigating the Tumultuous
Beyond the Big Talk: Every Parent’s Guide to Raising Sexually
Healthy Teens—from Middle School to High School
Influence on Adolescent Sex
Connected Can Make Crucial Difference in Important Decisions
by Louise Hajjar Diamond
would agree that they would prefer their middle or high schoolers
not become sexually active. However their preferences may not be the
reality. Therefore it’s important that parents educate their
children about the consequences of having sex.
active girls are predisposed to genital tract infections, cervical
cancer and pre-cancerous lesions.
girls and boys who have sex put themselves at risk for sexually
transmitted disease. Sexually transmitted diseases acquired during
the teenage years can contribute to adult infertility.
remains a leading cause of death during adolescence.
teen pregnancy has been declining steadily over the last decade,
and more teens are delaying having sex, teen sexual activity contributes
to medical, social, and economic problems in our nation. As reported
by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, four in ten
teenage girls get pregnant at least once before the age of twenty,
resulting in 900,000 teen pregnancies a year.
United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate of all the industrialized
countries in the world by a wide margin.
born to teenage parents are at higher risk for health problems,
poor school performance, inadequate parenting, poverty, and child
year, the federal government spends about $40 billion to assist
families that began with a teenage birth.
have a responsibility to their children to take an active role in
teaching them about the consequences of sex.
In a study published in September 2002, researchers at the University
of Minnesota found that teenagers are less likely to start having
sex when their mothers are deeply involved in their children’s
lives and successfully communicate their values on sex with their
According to the study:
- When teens
perceive that their mothers oppose them having sex, they are less
likely to do so.
proved to be more important to kids than what mothers said.
When mothers recommended birth control to their teens, kids were
less likely to perceive their mothers’ disapproval of them
mothers reported feeling satisfied with their relationships with
their 14 and 15 year-old daughters, their daughters were less likely
to report having intercourse.
actively involved in the lives of their daughters is another way Moms
may help preventing early sex. Mothers seem to have more of an influence
delaying their daughters from having sex than their sons. Boys may be
more influenced by fathers, siblings, and peers on the timing of first
WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
Too many parents believe they simply can’t make the difference
in their kids’ choices during the teen years. According to this
new research, this view couldn’t be further from the truth.
- During adolescence, children need as much guidance as they needed
in earlier years.
- Two-thirds of teens that have sex, end up wishing they had waited.
- Many parents who feel comfortable talking with their kids about
other dangers such as drugs, drinking, and smoking, avoid or minimize
educating their kids on sexual facts and values.
- Placing a high premium on education and self-worth may empower
kids to have confidence and to set goals for the future.
- Girls with high self-esteem and who feel accepted at home are
less likely to have sex.
- When they have positive and meaningful relationships with a parent,
girls are less likely to seek acceptance elsewhere such as in a
sexual relationship with a boyfriend.
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy suggests:
to be clear about their own sexual values and attitudes and tell
them to your children.
talking to kids about sex and love at and early age and be specific.
curfews, rules, and standards of behaviors for young teens.
know the whereabouts and company of your children.
early, frequent and steady dating.
what your kids are reading, watching, and listening to.
your children’s friends and their families.
As with all aspects of parenting, there are no guarantees of outcomes.
It should be comforting to parents to know their close relationship
and connectedness they have with their kids might help to prevent destructive
choices during the teen years. Through effective communication, example,
and guidance, parents can make a crucial difference in their kids’
Parents can learn more about prevention by visiting The National Campaign
to Prevent Teen Pregnancy’s website www.teenpregnancy.org. For
more information about the new research findings, visit www.allaboutkids.umn.edu.
Louise Hajjar Diamond is a guidance counselor, freelance writer
and mother of two. To reprint this article, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.