As much as any parent hates to believe that their child could be pressured into having sex, the sad fact and reality is peer pressure definitely plays a part in when, and why, many kids have sex. We live in a sexualized world, where everything from commercials to friends and neighbors advertises and promotes sex. So, whether your child has friends encouraging them to have sex, or they just watch television, they will likely at some point feel pressured to have sex.
The following are some ways you can talk to your child about peer pressure and sex:
Start by assessing how your child is feeling, and where they are at on the whole peer pressure issue. The best way to do this is by asking them questions, and evaluating their answers. Some good questions to ask include:
- Are you embarrassed about being a “virgin”?
- Are you being pressured to have sex?
- Will having sex make you feel differently about yourself?
- Is trying to be more popular a good reason for having sex?
- Are you considering having sex to get back at your parents or anyone else?
Talk to your teen about sexual maturity.
This will give you a good starting point for figuring out how your child is feeling about sex. The fact is, unless you approach it right, you can actually add to their pressure, rather than eliminate it. So, be sure that when you ask these questions it is not out of the blue, and that you do not do so in front of their friends, or other people in the family. Take the time to make them comfortable, and let them know you will be open and honest with them, and non-judgmental, if they can be the same with you. In many homes kids fear talking about sex because they think it is “dirty” or that they will be punished. You have to get past this before you can talk to your kids about peer pressure and sex.
Once you have established where your child stands on the whole peer pressure issue you need to tailor your discussion to their specific needs. If your child is worried about being popular, it is important that you help them understand that while popularity is wonderful, sex has risks. For example, ask them the following questions:
- Do you know how to protect yourself against pregnancy and infection?
- Do you know what your sexual limits are?
- Will you be able to let sex partners know your limits?
- Are you emotionally and financially ready to accept the consequences of pregnancy or infection?
You can ask them straight out how popular they are going to be if the captain of the football team wants to do something sexually with them that they do not want to do. Or how popular are they going to be if they have to drop out of school because they are pregnant or contract a serious STD. This can be highly uncomfortable, but it is critical that your child opens their eyes to the whole truth. Your kid is only going to be able to see half of the problem, such as the guys in the locker room teasing them about being a virgin. It is your responsibility to see beyond the peer pressure to the uglier side of the issue, such as how bad they are going to be teased if they end up with a genital rash.
If you want to help your child overcome the peer pressure to have sex you have to do the following:
- Ask questions.
- Be open and honest.
- Discuss sex, even if it is uncomfortable.
- Teach your child about STDs.
- Teach your child about pregnancy and the responsibility that comes with it.
- Help your child improve their self-esteem in other ways.
In the absence of a moral code of conduct, these deterrents to premarital sex may work.