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.
Terri Apter, PhD, a University of Cambridge researcher and leading authority on mothers and teen girls, offers a four-point plan to improve your next conversation. These ideas are taken from the May 2009 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.
I would only add that many of these ideas are equally applicable to speaking with your teenage sons about sex.