Whether it's a summer romance or puppy love, teenagers are bound to experience relationships they believe will last forever. In reality, I'm sure there are some of you reading this that have actually married your high school sweetheart.
Like generations earlier, having the sex talk with our child is always that dreaded conversation for many parents. Today it's not only conversations about sex, you must also be chatting frequently about their tech activity -- as predators linger in their virtual playground, teens will flippantly send nudes without a second thought, and oversharing has become as common as eating ice cream.
The Missing Piece.
A new report from Harvard Graduate School of Education Making Caring Common Project, The Talk: How Adults Can Promote Young People’s Relationships and Prevent Misogyny and Sexual Harassment reveals that a high percentage of teens and young people want guidance from their parents and educators through meaningful conversations to nurture healthy relationships and more.
The Misconceptions of the Hook-up Culture.
In an interview with Radio Boston, Richard Weissbourd, Director of Making Caring Common, shared the findings of how the young people viewed the hook-up culture;
"Only about 4 percent said they were interested in hooking up. About 8 or 9 percent said they were interested in having casual sex with a friend. It's very consistent with other data too ... About 8 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds are dating casually, the rest are in a serious relationship or not dating at all. We have big misconceptions about this."
The Opportunity We Have.
This report is opening doors for today's parents to have an opportunity to TALK early.
70 percent of young people (18- to 25-year-olds) surveyed wished they had more guidance from their parents about the emotional aspect of relationships including these following topics. I'm confident most of us struggled with these in our teen years:
· 38 percent - how to have a more mature relationship
· 36 percent - how to deal with break-ups
· 34 percent - how to avoid getting hurt in a relationship
· 27 percent - how to begin a relationship
65 percent in the same age group wished their school taught the above in health or sex education class.
The Harsh Reality of Being A Girl.
In an earlier study from PEW Research, they shared the extreme forms of online harassment that females (18-24 years-olds) experience.
According to Harvard University's The Talk research, 87 percent of females also reported negative and humiliating experiences.
· 55 percent - being catcalled
· 52 percent - having a stranger say something sexually to them
· 47 percent - insulted with sexual words (slut, ho, bitch) by a man
· 41 percent - touch without permission by a stranger
Sadly 76 percent of the respondents said their parents never had conversations with them about how to avoid or handle sexual harassment or forms of misogyny.
Being a Caring Partner.
Many parents have had the talk about safe-sex, abstinence, or whatever their preference is for their family -- but are you remembering to discuss with your child about being a caring and respectful sexual partner?
The Talk report uncovers that although statistics reveal that 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted during college, parents and adults don't seem to be having constructive conversations with young people (teens) about consent.
· 61 percent - being sure their partner wants to have sex and is comfortable doing so before having sex.
· 62 percent - the importance of not pressuring someone to have sex with you after they said no.
· 56 percent - the importance of not pressuring someone to have sex with you.
· 49 percent - assuring your own comfort in engaging in sex.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The Talk research offers tips for parents to help young people develop healthy relationships. What's important to understand is although they are only kids [teens], they -- like us -- want to have caring and meaningful friendships too.
We constantly talk about being role models with our behavior, from texting and driving to using foul language to our online behavior, but when was the last time you chatted with your teen about your summer flings or any romantic engagement? Your mistakes? What did you learn from it? Sometimes your teen needs to know you are human too. This isn't about hooking-up, having sex or fifty-shades of whatever you're into -- it's about "hey, I've been where you are, I had my heart broken too. Let's go have ice cream and talk about it."
· The Talk research is your door-opener to start conversations about relationships with your teenager.
· Divorce, sadly, is common, however it's how you handle it that effects your kids and their future relationships.
· Single parents that date is great, but be respectful to your partner. Your children are watching.
· Parents online, use discretion with your digital sharing. Teens will model your behavior.
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