The following powerful poem by Khalil Gibran (1922) speaks to the notion of allowing our children to own their own dreams. We must guide and support them, while at the same time allowing them to discover their own ambitions, identity and purpose and to chart their own life paths.
Competitiveness. Hmmmm… Given my particular temperament, I am inclined to feel uncomfortable even when an Olympics athlete “wins” for having completed the race a fraction of a second before another. My inclination, too, would be to view competition as neither helpful nor constructive in promoting happiness and excellence, and to insist that it sidesteps the natural joy of non-measured, non-compared accomplishment. And yet….
The following posting includes selections from Part 2 of psychologist and social sociologist Laurence Steinberg’s article in Psychology Today (Feb. 2011), that urges parents to talk to their teens about sex before they become sexually active. Part 1 offered some explanations why parents are reluctant to speak about sex.
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How can parents overcome their own hesitations and their young adolescent’s resistance? Here are some suggestions:
Psychologist, professor and social sociologist Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., is an internationally renowned expert on the psychological development of adolescents. Steinberg urges parents to talk to their teens about sex before they become sexually active.
I include here his article on the subject that appeared Psychology Today (Feb. 2011), in two separate postings. Part 1 examines why parents are reluctant to speak about sex. Part 2 will look at how parents can overcome their own hesitations (and their young adolescent’s resistance) to talk to their young adolescent about sex.
It is our natural tendency as parents (and often as partners as well) to pay attention to, and focus more on what is wrong, rather than what is right. As a result, our children and teens feel unappreciated and become less motivated to change or improve their behavior. In addition, they quickly learn that they can get more of our attention through negative behavior or “acting out.”
In her book Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens and the Culture of Sex, sociologist Amy Schalet traces the roots of parents’ divergent attitudes, and explores the way family culture shapes not just sex but also alcohol consumption and parent-teen relationships. Her work challenges American parents — for whom teenage sex is something to be feared and forbidden, and often a source of family conflict — to consider different, and possible better ways to love, respect and care for our children.
Writing for Slate magazine (11.18.2011), Amanda Marcotte points at several signs that “truly comprehensive sex education [is] an idea whose time has finally come.” For years now, she writes, the debate over sex education in the mainstream has been along the lines of, “Do we tell kids sex is an awful thing and they shouldn’t do it at all, or do we tell kids sex is an awful thing, but if they must, here’s how to be safe?” Marcotte argues for a third approach — a comprehensive sex education program that teaches young people to have not just healthy, but pleasurable sex.
In an article that appeared in Domestic Intelligence (1.19.2009), psychologist and writer Dr. Terri Apter suggests that recent discoveries about the still-developing adolescent human brain and traditional explanations about raging teenage hormones do not sufficiently explain the teen’s experience of parents. And they therefore do not sufficiently help us understand why teenagers fight so much with their parents.