Tutu asks: What are the barriers on communication between parents and adolescents, about sexuality?
Hi Tutu –
You bring up a great issue. It is a strange irony in human development, that the age when children begin to pull away from their parents is the same age when they become more sexual, in their body development as well as their minds.
It would certainly make things easier for parents if this were staggered a bit. For example, if kids went through their years of detachment from their parents before their bodies changed and they became interested in sexuality, so that by that time they were mature enough to have adult conversations with their parents about it on a regular basis.
But that’s just not the way it is, or has ever been.
As the hormones that define adolescence kick in, most children become somewhat embarrassed about the changes they’re experiencing. And the last person they want to talk about those changes with is their parent – particularly the parent of the opposite sex. Statistically, what happens most often is that girls will become more outgoing, arguing with their parents, defying them, etc., while boys will retreat more and stop communicating much at all. Both are very normal.
Meanwhile, though, their parents have the same responsibilities they had before, and have to struggle with these phases, in order to communicate with their kids about propriety, safety, love, safety, boundaries, safety, popularity, and… um, did I mention Safety?!
It’s not easy, my friend. But it is necessary. And if it helps, I have a lot of posts on here about the beginnings of sexuality, that might help you talk with your kids about it. And of course, please know you can always write me again, with any specific questions.
Thanks for being great,