There's No Place Like Home for Sex Education: 9th Grade
What I Really Want to Know Is …
How can you tell you're in love? What's it like to have sex? Do you just know what to do? How old should you be? How do you know if it's the right person?
A typical group of 9th graders asked these questions at a recent parent/teen workshop designed to help families communicate about sex. When asked to write down (anonymously) what they really wished they could discuss with parents, many teens listed these items.
Surprised? The parents were—at first. But on further reflection, parents found they weren't really surprised by the questions. Rather, they were caught off guard—and unprepared to answer.
Teens wonder about love, sex, relationships. They want details: how, why and when. They have lists of curiosities and concerns, and are rarely encouraged to voice them. Often they don't feel safe enough to speak with parents about such intimate matters.
Assume that given the chance, your 9th grader would ask you about all of this. Wouldn't you like to share your ideas? After all, peers and the media certainly spread their messages about sex. If you added your message, what would it be?
These questions may cause you discomfort. You're being asked to look deeply into your own values. You may have difficulty putting your feelings into words at first … that's ok. The words may not form easily, but that's no reason to avoid the subject. Your children do care what you think, feel and value. They want to hear from you.
So how do you begin—especially if you and your teen rarely (or never) talk with each other about sexuality? First, realize this needn't be THE BIG TALK. Young people aren't just interested in sex. They want to know about the whole business of living: connecting and relating to others and understanding themselves. Sharing your innermost feelings about your own life, your own growing up years, can give kids insight … and comfort. It opens doors for discussion of lots of things … including sex.
To start a conversation, consider the following interview used in the parent/teen workshop. This can be a special sharing time for you and your child. Begin by agreeing on ground rules, for example:
- All that is shared is confidential.
- You can speak honestly, without fear of consequences.
- You can pass if you choose, etc.
Reprinted with the permission of Advocates for Youth.
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