A new study reports that by the time parents have gotten around to talking about the birds and the bees, the eggs are fertilized and the flowers already pollinated. Researchers have found that 40% of adolescents have had intercourse before talking to their parents about safe sex, birth control or sexually transmitted diseases reports Time Magazine.
“The results don’t surprise me,” says Dr. Mark Schuster, the chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Hospital in Boston and one of the authors of the new study published in January’s Pediatrics. “But there’s something about having actual data that serves as a wake-up call to parents who are not talking to their kids about very important issues until later than we think would be best.”
According to Vitals.com, Dr. Schuster received his medical degree at Harvard University and completed his residency at UCLA Medical Center.
Teens who talk to their parents are more likely to delay their first sexual encounter and to practice safe sex when they do become sexually active. Despite red-faced reluctance, studies have shown that kids actually want to learn about sex from their parents.
“Denial, naivety and other emotions on the part of the parents may be playing into this trend,” says Dr. Lawrence Friedman, director of adolescent medicine at the University of Miami. “They reminisce that when they were in the seventh grade they didn’t do this until later and this is what is going on now. You have to be knowledgeable and prepared to prepare children for they become teenagers and have to confront sexual kind of activities.”
For this study researchers surveyed 141 middle-class and upper middle-class parents and their children aged 13 to 17. Participants responded to questions about 24 issues regarding sex and sexuality, including how women become pregnant, body changes that occur during puberty, how to use condoms and birth control, as well as issues around homosexuality. Families were surveyed four times, once at the beginning of the study and then again at 3, 6, and 12 months.
More than half of the children had experienced genital touching and 40% had intercourse before discussing birth control and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) with their parents.
Talks with boys almost always took place later than talks with girls. Nearly 70% said they had not discussed how to use a condom or other birth control methods with their parents before having intercourse.
As the latest study shows, parental talks need to happen much earlier than they do. Experts believe that parents should see this as an ongoing dialogue rather than “the talk” that is endured one time only.
-The issues chosen should be age appropriate.
-Take advantage of any situation that relates to this topic. Sex on a TV show, a pregnancy in the family or sex education classes in school are all opportunities for discussion.
-Take the lead on this very important subject. Your child will be too embarrassed to initiate and is afraid of being judged.
-Answer all questions and listen closely.
-Talk to your family physician and research the library and internet for resources.