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Do you remember your teenage years? If you do, the odds are good that your sexuality played a prominent role during this time. Whether it was trying to get the cute guy in class to notice you or swapping stories with your girlfriends; adolescence is a poignant time of sexual awakening for many people.
For this reason, it can be a terrifying time to be a parent. Helping your teen navigate their sexuality is endlessly confusing. Especially with how quickly society is changing regarding sexual norms. If you need advice on how to support your child throughout their sexual development, this article is the place to start.
Understanding Teen Sexuality
The physical and emotional development that takes place during puberty causes significant changes. Especially in the sexual nature of teens. However, defining teen sexuality as just a physical act is too narrow.
Instead, it is a process of development; how they feel about their body; how they express attraction to others; and how to develop and maintains respectful relationships with both sexes. During this stage, some adolescents discover they are attracted to the same gender or all genders. Some even feel that they are the wrong gender altogether.
This can lead to lots of confusion and anxiety about fitting in. But you, as a parent can help your child navigate this confusing time. Your child’s expectations and beliefs about sex and their sexual orientation are directly influenced by the example you set. They are also affected by your willingness to have open, honest conversations about occasionally uncomfortable topics.
You can offer support and guidance to your child by showing them they are loved and accepted no matter what. Make sure they and that they can come to you with questions or concerns that they have.
What is Sexual Identity?
Sexual orientation, or identity, is the emotional or sexual attraction that one person has towards another. Common types include heterosexual or straight (sexual attraction to the opposite sex); homosexual or gay/lesbian (sexual attraction to the same sex); bisexual (sexual attraction to both genders); and asexual (not interested in either gender in a sexual way).
Most teens question where they fit into these categories. It’s common for them to stress about their sexuality. Many worry that they won’t be accepted by their families if they are gay. For a teen, lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations can be confusing. Especially during a time when hormones are naturally raging in every direction anyways.
Many teens go beyond questioning. Some are actively experimenting with others sexually; to see what feels right to them. While this might be scary as a parent, try to be calm and kind. It’s beneficial for both of you if you provide support, love, and guidance when needed to keep your child comfortable in confiding with you.
What Is LGBT?
LGBT is the common acronym used to describe sexual orientations that fall under categories other than heterosexual. The letters stand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual. In some instances, a ‘Q’ is added to the end to represent those who are questioning their identities.Variations in human sexuality are normal.
There is no simple answer as to why people are one sexual orientation or another. Many medical experts believe that sexuality develops due to biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Genes and hormones certainly play a role, but they aren’t the whole story. Nonetheless, its agreed that sexual orientation isn’t something people chose. Instead, it is an intrinsic part of their personhood that they might not be aware of until entering adolescence, or later.
For a gay teen, sexual relationships can be confusing because their not as commonly portrayed in the media. This can leave teens feeling marginalized. Or, that something is wrong with them because they don’t fit the same mold as their peers.
Understanding Sex as a Parent of Teens
Few things can terrify parents as much as the thought that their teen is sexually active. Many parents worry that their kids aren’t taking precautions and may end up pregnant or with an STD. Others fear that their child isn’t emotionally ready to commit to someone sexually. Yet others are merely stressed that their children are growing up.
The Importance of Talking to Teens About Sex
No matter what your teenager thinks of sex or who they are attracted to, learning about sex and healthy relationships is difficult. Don’t limit your child’s education to what she learns from friends and at school; instead, create the space for having frank conversations together to deal with their concerns.
If you talk about sex and sexuality with your child, these tips can make the conversation easier for everyone.
- Use everyday opportunities to talk about sex, like when it comes up on TV or a song on the radio
- Show your teen you are interested in learning their perspective on the topic and willingly disuss their concerns.
- Maintain a mindset that sex is not embarrassing and that asking questions is normal
- Be honest about what you don’t know, and suggesting looking together to find answers.
Talk with Your Teen
When it comes to raising teens and helping them to become comfortable with their sexuality, the best thing you can do is to encourage open communication with them. By making it clear that you care about your child no matter what, you will encourage them to come to you concerns as they come up.