Sex and Relationships for Teens
Use your own experience to support your teenager in the mysterious world of sex and love...
"So you’re a single parent then? Broken marriage? Failed relationship? Not so good at the whole romance business then? What kind of example does that give to your daughter I wonder? And now you’re cavorting around with some young fancy man/woman! It’s no wonder the youth of today..." etc, etc
Well, that’s one way to look at it! But just in case you don’t agree with that view, here’s another one to consider:
Do you remember being a teenager? How confusing, scary and exciting it was to be starting out in the world of love and romance… and of course even scarier still, sex. And of course, what we as single parents know, is that it still is confusing, scary and exciting and nobody gets it exactly right.
The experiences we’ve had that have got us to this point, are part of the gift we can give our children. It enables us to understand and empathise and that is crucial to supporting a teenage son or daughter through these difficult years. Because you know first hand just how tricky relationships can be – at any age – you will be able to give support that recognises this in an honest and non-judgemental way.
In your single parent family it’s not so easy to hide relationship cracks and flaws; it's good lesson to teens that relationships aren't fairy tale endings.
If you’re a survivor of a violent relationship you may be living with the guilt and worry of how it will impact on your children’s future relationships. But actually, what you have done has shown them that they don’t have to put up with abuse, which is a really valuable lesson for your children, particularly for girls. If you are a man bringing your children up alone, you are giving them, a valuable lesson in breaking down parenting role stereotypes.
Another widely held opinion, that also undermines single parents, is that a girl needs a mother around and a boy needs a father, particularly during teenage years. This suggests that a girl brought up by a lone father or a boy brought up by a lone mother will never learn to function as healthy sexually active adults. But look at this another way: A father is just the right person to explain to his daughter why her boyfriend finds it difficult to talk about his emotions. A mother is able to explain to her son why his girlfriend seems to be so irritable every few weeks but is wonderfully loving the rest of the time.
Of course, there may be personal things relating to puberty or being sexually active that they would find uncomfortable talking about if they are a different gender to you. In this case you may need to find someone else for them to talk to, perhaps a school counsllor, GP or sexual health clinic.
Sex and puberty are easier to talk about if you are still able to communicate with your ex partner, but this is not always possible. If you are struggling with your teen see the 'Teenagers' secion of the Family Lives website.