During the teen years, your child may be more curious about the opposite sex, and have questions about dating. This is a good time to open conversations with your teen about the right time to start dating.
As your child may not be able to easily distinguish between an infatuation and being in love, you may also want to explain the difference between a crush and a committed relationship.
This is also a good opportunity to involve family values when talking about building healthy and mutually respectful relationships.
For example, on the value of abstinence in a young person’s life, we could explain by saying: "When we are young, we may not be sure if we will eventually marry the person we’re dating. So it could be wise to abstain from sexual intimacy before marriage, in order to enjoy this special and beautiful gift with our spouse within the commitment of marriage."
In the emerging years, you can take discussions with your child about relationships and physical intimacy further.
Ask them questions to stimulate their thinking about the issue. For example:
What do you think sex is for?
What happens when two people engage in sexually intimate acts?
What are the consequences of sex before marriage? How about within marriage?
Be prepared to delve deeper into the topic with your child. You can start by explaining the neurochemical processes that happen during sex: hormones such as oxytocin are released to foster feelings of closeness and loyalty between two people engaged in sexual intimacy. Ask them to think about what might happen if they do not eventually marry the one whom they had sex with. What are the emotional and physical consequences of this outcome?
True intimacy thrives on a foundation of mutual love and respect. The idea of sexual compatibility as finding that special someone whom you will have great sex with immediately is quite a media fantasy. Contrary to media portrayals, we often find that we need to work at sex, the same way we need to work hard in our marriage. Ask any couple and they will likely tell you that sexual intimacy grows over time, in tandem with emotional closeness and openness in communication.
Furthermore, if we approach sex from the viewpoint of simply gratifying our own needs, does this mean that we should keep looking for a new partner once the relationship’s honeymoon stage wears off?
If you are getting married to someone you love and respect and can be vulnerable with, that’s the best head start you can get to building lifelong intimacy with your spouse.
© 2021 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
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