This Valentine’s Day, while most of us are caught up in our own love lives and plans now is also a great time to get more of a peek into what’s going in your teens “puppy love” life as well!
Among the conversations parents have with teens, sex and sexuality seem to be a topic that just won’t exhaust itself. As soon as one milestone is met and conquered another one presents itself. From the “where do babies come from” convo to masturbation, no parent is ever prepared for the complexity of those topics.
What on earth does a parent say to their teenager who is engaging in sexual acts? To take it a step further, what does a parent say to a teenager who may be experimenting with someone of the same sex or “bi-curious?” Does this mean my child is a lesbian or gay? Is this kind of behavior normal? Should we have him or her evaluated by a shrink? Is it simply a phase? Is this normal? In a day and age where gay and lesbian relationships are just as common as a heterosexual couples, we’d better learn how to develop the communication skills necessary to have these discussions with our children so they can go on to lead their lives as healthy beings and partners.
We spoke with Coach Mike Conner, an Atlanta-based Well Coach to get a better idea of ‘bi-curious’ behaviors at such developmental stage in a young adult’s life.
“Well, when we use the term ‘bi-curious’, it almost insinuates a sense of confusion which may or may not be the case. Being sexual curious is the term we should be using before we automatically assume an adolescent teen who’s curious about their sexuality is bi-sexual. Some people know they’re attracted to those of the opposite sex just as soon as they become aware of their sexuality while some people know they’re gay or lesbian when they become aware. A lot f times we tend to think that it’s a natural process – knowing our sexual preference – when it’s quite difficult for some and it’s completely normal and natural to experiment. Otherwise, how would we begin to know our intimate selves? Some teenagers are awkward and lack the confidence they need to feel comfortable exploring their sexuality with someone of the opposite sex while some might instinctively be attracted to and aroused by someone of the same sex. A lot of times what happens is an adolescent might be ‘curious’ about same sex encounters and once they’ve acted on the desire they know without a doubt they prefer heterosexual relations. It’s truly based on the individual and it’s totally normal!”
This clearly won’t be the easiest of subjects to tackle with your kids. The last thing we want to do is crush his or her spirit or make them feel ashamed or judged for a process that is natural. As always, the first priority in any parent/child interaction is communication. While you may not agree or feel comfortable with how your teenager is exploring their sexual urges, it is of utmost importance that he or she feels comfortable enough to express their thoughts and feelings with a parent.
“I tell parents and teens to try and approach the conversation from a very specific perspective and that’s their well being. Are they harming themselves or others in the process of their sexual exploration? If your teenager is acting on sexual urges, the first concern really shouldn’t be whether or not it’s with a someone of the same or opposite sex – the first concern should be precautionary measures. What are you doing to keep yourself safe? Is he or she taking the proper precautions to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases? Does your son or daughter understand proper hygiene and what to avoid when engaging in sexual activities? When you come from a place of ‘I don’t care who you’re doing what with, how are you protecting yourself?’, you’ll get a lot farther in your quest for answers. I find that when the discussion starts with their safety, they’re far more comfortable sharing their experience in detail because you won’t get anywhere with them if you’re scolding or condemning their actions. People, not just our children, people are more willing to divulge when there’s a listener and you’ve got to listen to your kids! It’s vital to their growth process.”
How would you approach this situation with your experimenting teen? Please share your thoughts below!