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It's never been easy for parents to discuss with their offspring the issue of sex, and in the past it probably wasn't discussed at all. Nature just took its course.
We have now become a very sexualised society in just about every way with the use of sex as a marketing tool and the prevalence of pornography. The emphasis is pretty much always on pleasure rather than consequences and relationships.
Recent studies show that, unfortunately, pornography in all its extremes is one of the chief sources of sex-related information for teenagers.
On the other hand, recent research also indicates that teenagers are delaying sexual activity, which provides parents with a good window to address some of the issues and to provide the sort of information that could minimise risks and provide advice about respect for themselves and others.
It can be difficult for a teenager to know just how to express a wish to wait.
If you or they are wrestling with this dilemma, here are some tips to pass on to your teenager provided some time ago by the Family Education Network.
• Waiting isn't easy.
• Be honest with yourself about how you feel. Even if you've had sex, it's still possible to decide to stop.
• If you're not sure what to say, write it down first or talk to a close friend.
• Pick your time - not when you're on the point of going too far. Serious discussion won't be possible then.
• Pick your place - perhaps where other people are around.
• Say: "I want to talk about it now before we go too far."
• Talk about the pressures you both feel from friends, movies.
• Discuss times when it will be hard to say no and how you'll each try to avoid these situations without upsetting the other.
• Set your limits. Be clear that "no" definitely means no.
• Talk about consequences you are not prepared to risk, such as sexually transmitted diseases. For example, there's nothing romantic about genital warts.
• Or pregnancy. "I'm not ready to be a father/mother."
• Share goals - where you want to be in one year, three years.
• Find safe ways to show you care.
• Relax and just enjoy each other as people.
• Agree to stay away from alcohol and drugs.
• If your friend gets really pushy, explain how that upsets you. You deserve someone who cares more about you than about sex.