Parent Resources

How & When to Talk to Your Tween/Teen about Risky Behaviors

One conversation with your child about risky behaviors is not enough. Introduce the subject when a child is still very young, in simple language and with clear rules. As your child grows, repeat the message in more mature terms.  Here are some suggestions to help you decide what to say, when to say it, and how. Look For OpeningsKeep it light. Nothing turns off teens and preteens (tweens) more than a lecture. Don’t do all the talking. Ask questions and truly listen to your child’s answers. Be alert for opportunities to talk with your teen. Sometimes they say things which may actually be a veiled way of wanting to talk. If your child asks for permission to go to a party, talk about the situations that might be encountered there, and how s/he would deal with the. State your own values clearly. Younger children may respond well to simple rules, but as your child grows older, s/he will be more concerned about fitting in with peers. However, your child is still listening closely to what you have to say — even if it doesn’t appear that way! Focus on short-term consequences. As adults, we know that smoking leads to life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease, emphysema, and lung cancer; sexual activity can also lead to life-threatening disease such as cervical cancer, AIDS, and other life-long viral STDs. But most teens don’t worry about long-term risks.  So, you will catch their attention better if you focus on the immediate consequences of smoking — things such as bad breath, smelly clothes, yellow teeth, or poor performance in sports. For sexual risks,...

Talking with Your Teen

These suggestions are specifically aimed at helping your children avoid smoking. However, these basic helpful hints will also help protect your child from drugs and from sexual activity outside marriage. See Through Their Eyes. Reassure your child that while friends will sometimes hassle him/her for not going along, many times they won’t. Either way, the most important thing is for her/him to make her/his own decisions. Adolescents also tend to overestimate how many people are actually involved in risky behaviors. Adolescents in a recent survey said they thought that more than 50% of teens smoke; the actual number is closer to 25%. Make sure your child knows that the large majority of both teens and adults simply DO NOT smoke [OR have sex]. Set Boundaries. Your expectations must be crystal clear. Your rules must also be crystal clear, whether for negative behaviors such as smoking, drinking, drugs, sex, or for privileges such as driving and curfews. Involve your child in setting some boundaries and rules (curfews, for example), but always make it clear that YOU have the final say. Make sure your child and you both understand that the consequences for breaking rules will be enforced. Know Your Child’s Friends. Make friends feel welcome in your home – when you are there. If they are comfortable, they will spend more time at your home and less time in unsupervised places. Pay attention to how the kids interact with you and with each other. Are the relationships equal and respectful? Do your kids hold their own when they are joking or goofing around, or do they seem to be easily...

Parents' Vigilant Watch Helps to Delay Teen Sex (APAM,8/05)

Teenagers whose parents keep a close eye on their comings and goings may hang on to their virginity longer, a new study suggests. This parental influence was particularly strong among girls, according to findings published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The study included 307 14- to 18-year-olds who had not yet had sex. Researchers led by Dr. John A. Sieverding, who was with the University of California, San Francisco at the time, interviewed the teenagers about their attitudes toward sex and whether they intended to have sex in the next 6 months… They also answered questions about their friends’ sexual behavior and whether their parents “successfully” kept tabs on where they were when they were not at home. Overall, the study found, teenagers whose parents truly knew their comings and goings were less likely to intend to have sex in the near future. When the researchers interviewed the teens again 6 months later, some said they had started having sex — particularly those who had said they intended to do so. A parent’s watchful eye had a stronger influence on girls’ intentions, even among those with a “favorable attitude” toward sex, the researchers found. Parents who successfully monitor their kids, as opposed to those who try but fail, may be better communicators, according to Sieverding and his colleagues. Parents and children, they point out, must have an open, truthful relationship in order for parents to know where their kids are and whom they are with. Parents who are “skilled” in communication, the researchers note, may also be more successful at instilling their beliefs about sex in...

Teaching Your Child to Think 'On Their Feet'

Resisting negative peer pressure takes practice. Prepare your child for tough situations. “Peer pressure feels like having a spotlight shining on you in a big crowd. You need to make a decision quickly and you don’t know what to do,” according to a 17 year-old from Michigan. To help your child prepare for these situations, practice this type of exercise together. (You can make up many more situations from television/movies, or from situations you hear about at work, etc.) The setup. Review the situation.The deal. Discuss the pros and cons of going along.Conclusion. Decide on the appropriate action; don’t look back.What you could say. Talk about graceful ways to address the situation. Remind your child that if his/her friends do get angry, their anger will probably pass quickly. If it doesn’t, then they were not good friends. Problem 1: The RideThe setup. Your friends want a ride to the mall, but you only have a learner’s permit. Should you drive them by yourself (no adult)? The deal. If you do this, you might look cool; but it’s illegal and dangerous. If you get caught, you could lose your permit and your future license. If you have an accident, your friends could get hurt and your parents could get sued. Conclusion. It’s not worth the risk. What you could say. “For now, I can only drive if a parent is in the car. My mom can give us a ride.” OR “It’s gonna be great when I get my license. Then I can take you places. If I lose my permit, I won’t get my license for a long time.”...

Talking with Your Teen: Giving Them Tools

See Through Their Eyes. Reassure your child that while friends will sometimes hassle him/her for not going along, many times they won’t. Either way, the most important thing is for her/him to make her/his own decisions. Adolescents also tend to overestimate how many people are actually involved in risky behaviors. For example, adolescents in a recent survey said they thought that more than 50% of teens smoke; the actual number is closer to 25%. Make sure your child knows that the large majority of both teens and adults simply DO NOT smoke. Set Boundaries. Your expectations must be crystal clear. Your rules must also be crystal clear, whether for negative behaviors such as smoking, drinking, drugs, sex, or for privileges such as driving and curfews. Involve your child in setting some boundaries and rules (curfews, for example), but always make it clear that YOU have the final say. Make sure your child and you both understand that the consequences for breaking rules will be enforced. Know Your Child’s Friends. Make friends feel welcome in your home – when you are there. If they are comfortable, they will spend more time at your home and less time in unsupervised places. Pay attention to how the kids interact with you and with each other. Are the relationships equal and respectful? Do your kids hold their own when they are joking or goofing around, or do they seem to be easily influenced by what their friends say to them?  When alone with your child, point out positive qualities of the friends as well as the negative ones, in an objective manner. Make...

10 Principles for Teaching Sexual Purity to Your Children

1. We are not the top of an evolutionary chain — the human body is distinctive and unique in that the body, soul and spirit are inseparable…Comparison of humans with animal mating is irrational. 2. Love is spiritual, not biological – The civil ceremony of marriage prior to 1950 contained the admonition: “…For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh…The physical union of husband and wife is a spiritual event, the union of two innermost beings. 3. We talk about Union, not anatomy – Just as knowing the Latin terminology for the skeletal system does not prevent breaking bones, the study of medical of “street” terminology for private body parts does not promote healthy attitudes about sexual union…the parts derive their meaning from the context of relationship and function. 4. Explicit imagery and language is harmful – neurochemical science affirms that all imagery is real to the human brain whether the setting is scientific, educational or pornographic. All sexually explicit media have the effect of obscenity and alter the development of young brains physiologically and neurochemically. Exposure of explicit drawings invades the privacy and inherent modesty of a child and puts the child at risk. 5. Public Sex Education is harmful to youth – “Sexual awareness”, “sexual satisfaction”, or an abstract concept of “sexual knowledge” or “literacy” has historically bee the Kinseyan/SIECUS/Planned Parenthood justification for using sexually graphic pictures and language. These are not acceptable goals. Sexual feelings and satisfactions are private, not public, events, which cannot and should not be taught publicly. 6....

Don't Give Up!!! Sex, Lies, and Middle School Gossip

“SAFE SEX” EDUCATION : SEX, LIES & MIDDLE SCHOOL GOSSIP* Word has it that eighth-graders are having sex. Or maybe you’ve heard about kids dodging into bushes for hanky-panky on the walk home. In a culture saturated with sex, today’s young adolescents are freely passing along whatever gossip they hear. Their tales of purported trysts are echoed at PTA meetings, on the bleachers and in the supermarket aisles, as alarmed parents grill each other for details. But hold on: According to several well-respected national surveys, the chatter apparently far surpasses action among young adolescents. Although experts agree that younger teens are far more knowledgeable about sex than previous generations, the studies find that middle-school kids are actually waiting longer to become sexually active than they did just seven years earlier. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)reported that in 2002, 13 percent of girls had had sex by the time they turned 15, down from 19 percent in 1995. The drop for boys was similar, from 21 percent to 15 percent. Rates for black teens, which had been two to 3.5 times higher than for whites, fell even more dramatically. Sandy Pickert, an educator with Abstinence Education Inc. in Wichita, says recent sessions with middle- and high-school students reveal that sexual activity “does seem to be going down. “Kids are much more open to abstinence and much more articulate about why they’re choosing abstinence,” Pickert said. “The same way they’re making a decision not to smoke, they’re really thinking about the consequences (of sexual activity) and making better choices.” Although skeptics might question teens’ truthfulness in reporting...

John Rosemond's Bill of Rights For Children

Because it is the most character-building, two-letter word in the English language, children have the right to hear their parents say “NO” at least three tirmes a day. Children have the right to find out early in their lives that their parents don’t exist to make them happy, but to offer them the opportunity to learn the skills they – children – will need to eventually make themselves happy. Children have a right to scream all they want over the decisions their parents make, albeit their parents have the right to confine said screaming to certain areas of their homes.   Children have the right to find out early that their parents care deeply for them, but don’t give a hoot what their children think about them at any given moment in time. Because it is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, children have the right to hear their parents say “Because I said so” on a regular and frequent basis. Because it is the most character-building activity a child can engage in, children have the right to share significantly in the doing of household chores. Every child has the right to discover early in life that he isn’t the center of the universe (or his family or his parents’ lives), that he isn’t a big fish in a small pond, that he isn’t the Second Coming, and that he’s not ever – in the total scheme of things – very important at all, no one is, so as to prevent him from becoming an insufferable brat. Children have the right to learn to be...

Letting Them Go & Letting Them Grow

As parents, we often painfully anguish over how these helpless creatures are ever going to survive in life. If we keep rescuing them, they won’t. Here are some suggestions from a college counselor to help parents adjust to the “loss” of their teen to college. They may be helpful to ALL parents in order to help our teens become self-sufficient adults… How Can We Let Go? 1. announce publicly to our teen (and the other children) that we’re letting go  2. admit it’s OK to be sad and happy at the same time 3. take time to let the pain of separation hurt 4. live the family routine differently reinvest all the energy directed toward our teen into other things, especially redirect our attention to our spouses Why Should We Let Go? 1. Kids cannot see what they can do by themselves if we parents are always there to direct them. Let go to allow independent thought and action BEFORE they go off to college. That way, if they do make mistakes, we can discuss this and help them to learn alternative actions for the future. 2. They will have NEW FREEDOMS & NEW ROUTINES at college. Letting go helps them to prepare for these major changes without going off the deep end. So they can learn new things and learn how to handle things on their own. They have to learn how to manage their resources differently (time, energy, money). 3. Make sure they have a checking account at least a year prior to leaving for college so they will have plenty of time to learn how to balance...

Helping Teens Become Self-Sufficient

Parents, help your teens to become SELF-SUFFICIENT! Here are a few tips from Charles Sykes, radio talk show host on WTMJ/AM in Milwaukee, and author of Dumbing Down Our Kids. You may want to share this list with your tweens and teens. 1. Life is not fair 2. Get used to it. The world won’t care about your self-esteem 3. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself. You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school 4. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both. If you think your teacher is tough, wait ‘til you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure. 5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity 6. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping; they called it opportunity. 7. If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault; so don’t whine about your mistakes. Learn from them. 8. Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes, and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So, before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your own room. 9. Your school may have done away with winners and losers but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades; they’ll give you as many chances as you want to get the right answer. This, of course, doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life. 10. Life...

How Can Parents Affirm Adolescent Abstinence? (update!)

By teaching SELF-CONTROL which requires… …JUDGMENT …HARD WORK …PERSEVERANCE …ACCEPTING CONSEQUENCES …POSTPONING IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION (Delayed Gratification) Here are TIPS you can teach your teens on How to Say “No”. These TIPS require that our teens learn and practice good judgment, hard work, perseverance, responsibility, and delayed gratification in order to achieve sexual self-control. Make a committment To myself To my parents To a friend with like values (so we can be accountable to each other) To those I date (agree up front the relationship will be kept free of sexual activity) To my future mate, even if I haven’t met him/her yet Avoid …being completely alone …intimate environments (do not visit each other’s homes when no one else is home, go parking in a secluded area, or go walking in the woods alone) …sexually stimulating influences such as sexually explicit music, movies, TV, or books; revealing clothing, physical stimulation (prolonged kissing), or use of alcohol &/or drugs Plan Ahead Group dating is fun and takes the pressure off you to carry on the conversation. If you must single date, make sure you know the person you are dating well, and that your parents have his/her family’s phone number and address (hint: know more about him/her than the name!) Know where you are going, with whom, what you will do when you get there, & what time you’ll be home; tell your parents or trusted friend; keep on schedule! Have an agreement or secret code with your parents/guardians that you will call them if you find yourself in a situation that does not agree with your values so that they...

What Should I Say (and NOT Say) To My Teen?

Ask yourself for a moment what evokes a more negative reaction most of the time in families: the knowledge that a teen is sexually active, or the knowledge that a teen has become pregnant? If, in one way or another, the message is communicated that teen pregnancy will cause more of a problem than teen sex, then we are inadvertently creating an incentive for abortion. After all, if one can abort the pregnancy without the family’s knowledge, why endure the trouble that will result by revealing it? Parents need to fearlessly make it clear that our goal is to encourage sexual abstinence (chastity), not to punish pregnancy. [PFL, May-June...

What do Physicians Say?

As a medical doctor, the best prescription I can give to avoid infection with a sexually transmitted disease is abstinence until marriage and a life-long, mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner. * Tom Coburn MD, retired US Congressman, Family...

What are 3 "Safe Sex" Myths?

THE MYTHS, &… THE REALITY CHECK   MYTH #1: Teens are using more and better contraceptives. Shouldn’t I get my teen on contraceptives, or give out condoms, to protect him/her? REALITY: Although condom use has increased among teens at first intercourse, the percentage dwindles rapidly after that. Also, in the heat of the moment, do any of us really expect teens to use condoms “correctly” and “consistently” every time? The CDC has already noted several times that if condoms are not used “consistently” and “correctly” every time, it is no more useful than not using them at all! Putting teens on “the pill” or “the shot” provides NO PROTECTION against ANY STD. Actually, these chemical body pollutants change the pH of the vaginal area, making it more susceptible to STD infestation. The long-term effect of chemical “contraceptives” begun when young female bodies are still developing is not fully understood. While condom use has increased at times among teens, sexual activity has greatly increased, because teens have been given a false sense of security. MYTH #2: Pregnancy and birth rates for teens are declining so the “safe sex” message must be working. REALITY: Pregnancy and birth rates are NOT declining among “sexually experienced” (ever had sex) and “sexually active” (sex in past 3 months) teens. They are actually rising sharply. The government calculates the birthrate among adolescents by dividing the total number of births to teen mothers by ALL female teens. This is highly misleading because abstinent females do not become pregnant. Their rates of pregnancy/birth remain steady at zero/1,000. Subtracting abstinent girls from the formula, the non-marital birthrate among...

Why do some teens become sexually active?

Sexual attraction Society & media pressure Peer pressure Use of alcohol and drugs Pressure from boyfriend/girlfriend Desire to be considered “normal” Parents’ example Inappropriate sex education Mistaken beliefs Boredom Low self-esteem Loneliness No good reasons to say “No” The majority of sexually experienced teens wish they had waited… [research from author Dr. Tom Lickona; Abstinence Educators’ Network,...

What do Teens say?

Over 90% of 1000 teens polled believe that abstinence should be taught and urged by society. Also, 58% of teens felt that sexual activity is inappropriate for high school students. [The Indianapolis Star 5 May 2000 reported findings from National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy; from 6/2000 CPR News] Parents, read Amelia’s story. She explains why she is holding fast to her pledge of abstinence, as her friends give up theirs… Her words provide a good insight into our present age. “Last year I signed a card that showed the world that I would remain a virgin until marriage. I’m only 14, and even being so young, the temptations are great. Along with me my friends also signed a card. I know that, to many of them, this was a big deal and to some it was just something they could do to be more popular. The ones that did it to be popular broke their promises, and when you ask them why, they say it was just too hard. Many of them go out and party and get drunk, and it’s all downhill from there. “After seeing what they are doing to themselves, I strive to keep my promise to myself and not only for myself but for them also because I want to show them that it is possible. “I urge anyone who reads this that maybe has already broken their promise to get another card and check the box that says ‘from this point on I will stay sexually abstinent.’ I believe that good things come to those who wait, and that the greatest thing you...

What does the research show ?

“Schools should be in the business of promoting what is healthy for students. Schools do not advocate: “Don’t smoke. But if you do, only smoke low tar cigarettes with industrial-strength filters.” Nor do we hand out such cigarettes to students who choose to smoke anyway. The same is true of drug use. Schools promote “Don’t smoke.” “Don’t use illegal drugs.” “Don’t use alcohol.” Schools take this stand because of the health risks of these activities. The same should be true of sexual activity outside a mutually faithful, monogamous, life-long relationship. Promoting condom use outside a marriage is inconsistent with this stance. The health risks are just too great…” [Sexual Health Today, The Medical Institute for Sexual Health] “American adolescents stand a better chance of avoiding risky behavior when they experience and express strong connections to their school…students who feel connected to their school report lower levels of emotional distress…A feeling of connectedness to school also protects youth from cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana use… Feeling a high level of connectedness to school also is associated with a delay in first sexual intercourse…Other factors associated with a modest delay in sexual debut include attending a…school with high overall average daily attendance…Schools’ attendance records are associated with only one outcome, the onset of sexual intercourse” “Measures of classroom size, teacher training, and parent involvement with school appear unrelated to adolescents’ health behaviors and emotional well-being.” “Teens who have high self-esteem are more likely to be protected from emotional distress. Having a good grade point average is also associated with less emotional distress” in grades 7-12 and is associated with protection from suicidal...

Why Should We Talk To Our Kids About Sex?

Because… ~600,000 U.S. teens become pregnant each year …3 million U.S. teens are infected with STDs/STIs each year ..63% of all STDs occur in persons less than 25 years of age …one in 4 sexually active teens will contract an STD before finishing high school …AIDS cases among teens double every 14 months …comprehensive sex education promotes birth control and has failed our teenagers …sexually inactive (abstinent) youths have the lowest rates of mental health problems Talk To Your Tweens and Teens — They're Waiting To Hear From You… PARENT TO PARENT By Jan Carroll, RN Have you ever talked to your children about sex, I mean really talked? Do you know how to, or know what to say? Ever feel awkward or embarrassed about the subject? Do your children act uncomfortable during your talks or ask questions that make you feel uncomfortable? What is the right age to begin introducing information about human sexuality to your children? These are questions that tend to strike fear in the hearts of many unprepared parents starting with that first typical childhood sexuality question, “Mommy, where do babies come from?” This innocent question has been asked since time began. Few parents 25 years ago felt the need to discuss these private matters with their children, allowing “nature to take its course”. Yet, with the advent of many “family planning” organizations and sex education curriculum in our schools, it is imperative for parents to take an active role in providing sex education in the home which reflects their family values. For too long now, parents have relinquished the responsibility of sex education to...

Why should our teens be sexually abstinent ?

There are many physical and emotional reasons. Physically, there is an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S., many of which are dangerous and even life-threatening, such as HIV/AIDS and HPV, which is present in almost all cases of abnormal pap smears and cervical cancer. In recent studies, as reported by the CDC, condoms do not prevent the transmission of HPV and only reduce the risk of infection by HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and other major dangerous STDs (see letter by Dr. Perry, above). Also, once a person has one of these STDs, their chances of acquiring HIV are greatly increased. Condoms were invented to stop the passage of sperm, not to stop the passage of extremely small bacteria and viruses. Also, few adults use condoms correctly and consistently, every time; does anyone realistically believe teenagers in the heat of the moment will do better? The CDC has stated that if condoms are NOT used every single time, they are virtually useless in preventing STDs. The “pill” and the “shot” only reduce the risk of conception. The pill must be taken at the same time every day (do our teens remember all their school assignments and appointments? Are they always punctual?). We all dislike pollution in the environment; what dangerous pollution do these chemicals cause in our young daughters’ bodies? When their body metabolism, which is still developing, is unbalanced by these strong hormones, what are the long-term effects? The pill and the shot can actually change the environmental lining of the vagina, apparently making it more susceptible to the transmission of STDs. Teen pregnancy often leads to abortion....

Young Teen Sex: Hottest New Pop Culture Concern (1/05)

What the girls (and guys) don’t realize is that they are getting more than they bargained for… The hottest new pop culture topic is “young teen” sex. People magazine has a special report, NBC News aired a special…, and CNN’s Paula Zahn is featuring special interviews on the topic… It’s about time people got concerned. Roughly 20 percent (depending on the poll) of young teens (13-16 years) are sexually active and that doesn’t include the large number of young teens who don’t think that oral sex is really sex. Polls indicate that 12 percent of young teens have had oral sex. However, only 15 percent of parents say that their young teen is engaged in sexual activity beyond kissing while nearly 30 percent of teens admit going there. And, all that talk about “safe” sex and condom training? According to the People/NBC poll, only 67 percent of young teens having sex say that they use a condom every time. In fact the People article begins with the story of a 14-year-old who has had two recent “pregnancy scares”: the first because “the condom broke” and the second because of a “heat-of-the-moment” encounter. Even scarier: The Centers for Disease Control report that chlamydia, herpes and HPV have increased among 10 to 19 year olds. The current lingo is “friends with benefits,” where the “guys get the pleasure” without commitment and the girls “are willing to give them that.” What the girls (and guys) don’t realize is that they are getting more than they bargained for. Dr. Meg Meeker, a pediatrician in Traverse City, Michigan, spoke at the Educational Policy conference...