When Silence is NOT Golden


When you mentioned the parents not giving their child the ‘talk’, I kind of related. My mother had me when she was roughly 13. She has not given me that talk yet. Knowing that, I do sometimes think it’s okay to have sex.- High School Student

You are communicating a message to your child by your words AND your silence. Sometimes silence can speak louder than words ever will! When you don’t share your expectations with your child, you are setting him or her up for failure.

Many teens that are abstaining tell me the reason they don’t have sex is because they don’t want to disappoint their parents. They can’t disappoint parents when they don’t even know whether the parents disapprove of them having sex, or better yet when they know the parents don’t disapprove.

What we really need to do is educate PARENTS on how to discuss sex with their children! They are the ones that can make the most difference. Because of what my parents taught me I will be abstinent until marriage.

Parents cannot just ignore it if their children are having sex early; they have to make clear their expectations. If teens can’t be abstinent for moral reasons, they should at least be afraid of what their parents will do, think or of disappointing them. This will most definitely bring down teen pregnancy and STD rates. 

In addition to talking to children about sex, we can sometimes learn a lot by also listening to what they have to say about sex as evidenced by the above letter from a high school student.

Let them know you care!

When teaching a 9th grade class once, a young man in my class was very open about the fact that he was sexually active. When I asked the class to list the reasons a teen would make a decision NOT to have sex, one of the things a student listed was “Parents”.

The young man who was sexually active said, “What does THAT have to do with you not having sex? My father knows I’m sexually active and he doesn’t care. He just tells me to make sure I wear a condom.”

The other students were shocked and began to share how their parents would be upset or kill them if they found out they were sexually active. The young man whose father didn’t care that he was sexually active said, “I wish my father would get upset because I’m having sex. At least I would know that he cares.”

Here is what the research says:

Youth whose parents talked to them about what is right and wrong in sexual behavior were significantly more likely to be abstinent than peers whose parents did not.1

Teenagers who feel their parents strongly disapprove of their being sexually active are less likely to contract a sexually transmitted infection.2

Bottom line:

Your role as a parent is to shape your child’s values. In order to shape THEIR values, you must communicate YOUR values!

Does your child know what you expect from him/her when it comes to sex?

[1] Cheryl B. Aspy et al., “Parental Communication and Youth Sexual Behavior,” Journal of Adolescence 30 (2007): 449-466.

[2]  Carol A. Ford et al. “Predicting Adolescents’ Longitudinal Risk for Sexually Transmitted Infection,” Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine 159 (July 2005): 657-664.

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