A time to talk
What if you find out your teenager is having
by Dr. Cathleen McGreal
wooden privacy fence surrounding my friend’s
backyard sometimes corrals a dog’s happy
explorations. It also creates a quiet retreat
area for reading. Since my friend lives between
a high school and a university, it is a great
gathering spot for celebrations associated with
school events. Imagine my friend’s surprise one
evening to discover that an adolescent couple
had decided the fence also provided just the
right amount of privacy for sex. In this case,
the teens were strangers. But what if parents
walked in on their own teen having sex?
Have the teens talk to you - now!
Have the couple get dressed - and then it’s time
to talk. Don’t wait. Ask them about the
decisions that led to this point. How did this
fit into their relationship at this time? What
discussions did they have about pregnancy? About
sexually transmitted diseases? Try not to
dominate the conversation, so that you can learn
about their views. If they mention love, then
acknowledge that love is powerful but its
physical expression carries responsibilities.
Sex has different meanings to different
individuals as well. Some teens view sex more as
recreation than as an expression of intimacy or
romance. Share your values - that sex needs to
be saved for marriage and that marriage is a
spiritual as well as physical relationship.
Self-mastery: a process occuring throughout
Our church acknowledges that adolescents are
apprentices in learning to deal with healthy
sexual expression. “Chastity includes an
apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a
training in human freedom. … Self-mastery is a
long and exacting work. One can never consider
it acquired once and for all. It presupposes
renewed effort at all stages of life. The effort
required can be more intense in certain periods,
such as when the personality is being formed
during childhood and adolescence.” (CCC #2339,
2342) One sexually-active relationship doesn’t
commit a teen to sex in future relationships.
Let the other parents know.
The teens can help decide how to inform the
other parents. Clarify the means of feedback so
that you and the other parents communicate.
Adults often picture teen sex as something that
occurs in the back seat of a car, but
contemporary adolescents often have sex in their
own homes or the home of a friend after school.
Make sure that rules are clearly established for
the future. Research shows that first
intercourse peaks with periods of less
supervision: summer vacation (especially June)
and Christmas vacation.
Remember that sexual passion is God’s idea! But
sexuality is spiritual as well as physical; “…
not … merely biological, but concerns the
innermost being of the human person … .” (CCC
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