Parents' Dilemma in Dealing with Sex in the News

The constant barrage of news stories about sex has created a real dilemma for many parents—since they often feel uncomfortable and awkward about discussing sexual issues with their children. In fact, studies show that most parents do NOT discuss sex with their kids. A survey in 1990 revealed that only 19% of us get our sex education from our parents while 81% learn from friends, not a very reliable source.

Parents, however, need to genuinely accept that this is an important part of their responsibility as parents. Our kids are constantly bombarded by negative sexual messages on a daily basis, which desperately needs to be offset by the ability to talk about sexual issues in a "responsible" way—which is best done by parents who love them and care for their well-being.

While it's understandable for parents to resent feeling "forced" into sexual discussions with their kids, the current focus on sex in the news can serve as an opportunity to open the lines of communication in a way that can have lasting benefits. So you can acknowledge that you're uncomfortable in talking about sex, but don't let that stop you. Go ahead and determine to discuss these issues anyway.

It may help to realize that WHAT you say may not be as significant as the fact that you are committed to opening and maintaining an ongoing dialogue about sexual issues. Since issuing proclamations or judgments is not very effective in developing sexual responsibility, you can use this as an opportunity to establish the kind of ongoing communication that will allow you to influence your kids' attitudes and behavior over the long haul.

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