“Why Shouldn’t I Have Sex if I’m in Love?”
In popular media, love and sex are often portrayed to come together. As such, our kids may think that being in love with someone means having sex with them. If the question comes up between you and your child, how can you respond?
At this age, it is helpful to already have laid the groundwork on related topics, like what a virgin is, where babies come from, as well as how a girl gets pregnant.
If you have not done so, it is not too late; now is a good opportunity to begin conversations on these questions. Doing so will give your child a good understanding of what sex is.
Layer on these previous conversations by introducing the purpose of sexual intercourse and sexual intimacy. You can say something like, “Sex is something that two people do in marriage. When a husband and wife have sex, that’s one of the ways they show their love for each other. They also have sex when they want children and are ready to be a father and mother.”
By this time, your teen may be more curious about the opposite sex, and he or she may ask you about dating. Have open conversations with your teen about the right time to start dating.
As your child may also be grappling with distinguishing between an infatuation and being in love, this is also a good time to chat about the definition of love. What is the difference between a crush and a committed relationship? What are your family’s values regarding healthy and respectful loving relationships?
It is good to bring in the importance of abstinence in these discussions. For example: “When we love someone, we want the best for them because we truly care about them. One of the ways we can give our best to our future spouse is to abstain from sexual intimacy before marriage, so that we can enjoy this special and beautiful gift with them for the first time within the commitment of marriage.”
You can take discussions of the purpose of sexual intercourse and sexual intimacy further at this stage. Ask your children questions to provoke thoughts about the issue. For instance: “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?”
Get them to find out what are the consequences of sex before marriage or with multiple partners, and be prepared to talk with them about sexually transmitted diseases, unsupported pregnancies, contraception, emotional repercussions, etc.
You may wish to delve deeper with them by explaining the neurochemical processes that happen during sex: hormones, such as oxytocin and vasopressin, 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, for various reasons, they do not get married with the one whom they had sex with. What might be the emotional and physical impact on themselves and their partner?
Help them to understand that it is precisely because they love their partner that they are willing to abstain from sex until marriage, because true love is willing to wait.
Bring to their awareness that they should not be pressuring their partner for sex nor should they give in to the pressure from their partner to have sex. A respectful loving relationship honours the comfort level and value system of the other person.
Explain to them that research has shown that the loving commitment of marriage is the safest and best place to enjoy sexual intercourse and sexual intimacy with their future spouse.
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Check out the Talk about Sex series for more essential conversations with your children.