Teen Sex: On Learning the Hard Way

While perusing Twitter last week, I ran across this Newsbusters article, “HuffPo Blog Encourages Teen Sex Sleepovers to Parents.”

As someone who one day hopes to become a father, the suggestions in the actual Huffington Post article creeped me out a more than little bit.

Who talks about their sex lives openly with anyone, let alone their parents?

HuffPo writer, Soraya Chemaly, asserts that encouraging teen sexuality and allowing it to be openly discussed would be a boon. She believes that it would lead to more responsible sexual behavior.  Making teens more comfortable with their sexual decisions, she reasons, would cause them to take less risks than if they hid those choices.

Is this really the outcome we should expect were we to follow her advice?

Consider something for a moment. Over the course of your life, would you say you’ve made some mistakes?  I would imagine the answer is almost universally yes. Now, another consideration. How many of those mistakes were due to the inexperience and recklessness of youth?  Again, most likely youthful indiscretion the cause of many of those mistakes.

We call that “learning the hard way.”

We learn from our experiences not to repeat bad decisions, and then discourage our children from repeating our mistakes.  They may not listen, but we do not intentionally inflict our own hardships (or those we have witnessed) on our children by encouraging them to commit them.

Yet, according to Ms. Chemaly, that is precisely what we should be doing regarding our teenagers and sex.

After all, it is not as though teens could make bad choices in the heat of the moment amid all the hormones. Every teenager thinks of using protection while having sex.  And they most certainly always choose the right person to have sex with — never someone immature, controlling or possessive.

Teenagers, with a little guidance from mom and dad, will know precisely what the boundaries are and never ignore important aspects as they lust after one another.

That is, of course, an exaggeration of the article’s argument. Ms. Chemaly simply believes that her ideas will lessen the chances of negative outcomes, rather than eliminate them entirely.

However, the exaggeration highlights an unspoken and dangerous assumption in the article itself: that teenagers are mentally equipped to handle the changes brought about by growing up, be they physical or emotional.

Anyone with an ounce of common sense realizes this is not true. Even in my mid-20s, I recognize there is a huge difference between the way I thought just five years ago compared to how I think now.  Even now, I am still prone to immature thoughtlessness; I just happen to stop myself before I can act on it. Most of the time.

Certainly, some life lessons should be, or only can be, learned through experience.

However, for something as potentially emotionally and physically devastating as sex, shouldn’t the least amount of opportunities for error be encouraged?  Considering how short-sighted and ignorant of the world teenagers are, how can one honestly say the outcome of parent-encouraged sexual behavior would be anything other than negative, possibly even disastrous?

Let’s stop treating our teenagers like experienced adults: they are not and deserve to learn about life in ways that won’t potentially ruin them for life.

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