Teenage romance and sex is glamorized in our society and culture, and there are some who feel that experimenting with it is a natural and inevitable part of growing up. But in my years of experience as a High School Teacher and as a child and adolescent psychotherapist, as well as my experience with my own four children, I have learned that this is a mistake. The plain truth is that in the vast majority of instances, teenage sex and romance is extremely unhealthy, undesirable and often very dangerous. The paths of teenage romance are littered with depression, disillusionment, abuse and mistreatment, lost innocence, unhealthy obsessions, distraction from school work and a healthy social life, horrible sexually transmitted disease, unwanted pregnancy, abortion, and worst of all heartbreak! Let’s examine the dangers of teenage sex and romance in detail.
Hearts were not meant to be broken!
As a rule, teenagers are extremely sensitive, extremely passionate, extremely impulsive, extremely unwise and extremely naïve! They become infatuated and fall in love very easily, but allowing or encouraging them to do so constitutes very reckless and poor guidance. Teenagers do not have the maturity and responsibility to handle falling in love and all its grave lifelong consequences. First and foremost is the fact that only a tiny percentage of High School sweethearts spend the rest of their lives happily together. That means you can be almost completely sure that the relationship is going to end after a while and as always happens, one or both partners are going to be heartbroken and devastated! I’ve seen in happen so many times, it is a pitiful sight to see, and it has serious emotional and practical consequences. You don’t want this to happen to your teen under any circumstances!
The simple fact is, the more you fall in love casually in your youth, the less you will be able to bond emotionally later with your soulmate and life partner! A person experiences a tremendous outpouring of affection and passion for his or her first love, and ideally you want the teen to save that and invest it in a lifelong partner, not on some casual affair. Therefore it pays to convince your teen to wait until he’s older and choose a partner wisely, and only then allow him or herself to fall in love.
Emotional health risks
A teens’ emotional health is developing, and is very fragile. Many, many of them are battling depression, anxiety, ADHD and many other mental health issues. The rollercoaster of a teen love affair greatly intensifies whatever emotional stress they are under, and can push them over the edge into unmanageable depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and self-harm such as cutting, drug addiction and even suicide! I’ve seen it happen many times. It simply is not worth the risk for your beloved teen! In addition, when one partner no longer wants to pursue the relationship, the other can often develop a very unhealthy obsession which can last for months and years and create much misery.
The dangers of teenage sex and romance: Abuse and Mistreatment
Love and relationships are all about kindness. It’s two mature, responsible people deciding to get together to form a partnership of mutual respect and bestowing acts of kindness upon each other for the long term! But teens totally lack the maturity to carry that goal out in a responsible way. Your daughter’s 17-year old boyfriend is not thinking, “I am creating a relationship with this girl so that I can be a lofty giver and satisfy her every need out of the kindness of my heart, and take care of her for the rest of her life.” I am sure you are aware of the fact that 99 percent of the time he is thinking, “I want to date this girl so that I can have fun, pleasure and excitement for myself.” Wit such a motivation, how could it possibly have a happy ending? The fact is most teen relationships result in total abuse and mistreatment of one or both partners. Teens simply have no idea how to create a loving relationship and they are playing with fire. Their selves are just developing and therefore they must be very self-centered in order to foster their own development. But as we know, selfishness creates terrible relationships.
Distraction from school work and social life
Teenagers need to focus on school, but the also need very much to have a great social life, developing many deep friendships. However romance totally distracts them and derails these two important goals. How many times have you heard of a teen who abandoned his friends because he wants to always hang out with his new girlfriend? It is much healthier for a teen to spend his or her time with a group of friends than with a dubious romantic fling. And romance totally distracts teens from their school work. It is simply impossible to be diligent when you’re infatuated and in love.
Sex is a very powerful act with great ramifications, as it gives you the power to create and entire human being out of nothing! It is simple impossible for teenagers to have the responsibility to handle reproduction, or to handle preventing it. What I’m saying is that they cannot successfully implement birth control effectively. A girl will simple forget to take the pills sometimes, or neglect to refill her prescription. Condoms are a joke. Everyone knows that even with adults, half the time when the passion gets fired up the condom comes off! Teen pregnancy is a tremendous mistake. And on the question of abortion, even those that are pro-choice are aware that an abortion has devastating lifelong emotional health consequences including depression, guilt, self-blame and suicidal ideation. I have had many female clients who had an abortion in their youth and never forgave themselves.
So-called safe sex
Educators advise teens to have safe sex, but unfortunately such a thing does not exist! It is impossible for teens to responsibly be sexually active and prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Such STD’s are rampant nowadays, and many have no cure. As I have said above, condoms are very scant protection. Diseases can sometimes go around the condoms, and sooner or later the condom always comes off. Sexually active teens are simply taking a risk that sooner or later is going to catch up to them.
Please forgive me if I seem to be alarming you, I simply don’t want you to make the same mistakes I have seem so many others make.
So now that I know the dangers of teenage sex and romance, how do I convince my teen to be wise and safe?
The first rule is not to get alarmed and overreact if you do find out they are engaging in risky sexual behaviors. There is a great chance they are going to do it above your protests, so you need to be relaxed and accepting and respond to the report in a very cool way. Don’t respond with reprimands, punishments or restricting freedoms and privileges, because all that will only cause the teen to keep their activities a secret from you. The goal is you want them to confide in you so you can safely guide them. So once you have the teen’s confidence and you have developed a warm relationship, you need to educate them about the dangers I mentioned above, in a way that they can relate to. It should not be, “Don’t mess around because then Mommy and Daddy will get angry and disapprove,” because that will just cause them to do things in secret. It needs to be, “I want so much for you to have absolutely the most happiness and pleasure possible, and refraining from risky behaviors is the best way to accomplish that goal!” You need to help them to see how much they will benefit and enjoy life if they keep themselves safe and act wisely. In other words, fear of reprimands, disapproval or punishment should not be the motivation to refrain; instead you need to inspire them about self-respect and the wisdom and joy of being wise and safe.
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