I am old enough to know when pretending it doesn’t exist really means I am letting my children be influenced by other people. Fifty Shades of Grey is a new exciting movie with a release date of Valentines Day this year. How you classify ‘exciting’ can have multiple meanings depending upon who sees it. For a teenage girl, the movie represents an example of a girl who feels powerful because she is wanted for her body. To frumpy worn out forty-something women, the movie represents an exciting possibility to combat boredom in the bedroom. Conservative movie watchers define it as smut with bondage, sadism and masochism. Regardless of adult personal opinions, the one that counts right now is your child’s. What do they think of the movie and how will it impact their opinion of sexuality? Admittedly, boys are more likely to look at porn on their cell phones than go to a chick flick like Fifty Shades of Grey. Regardless, we have a challenge on our hands.
Girls are learning they can get attention with sex. Boys feel powerful and begin shedding childish boyhood as they move into the position of a mature sexual peacock. The path both boys and girls take is directly related to what they learn about becoming a sexual being. Who will they learn it from? A peer might tell them you can get pregnant from a kiss or a three-way is common. If no one talks about it in the home then we, as parents, are letting peers and the media form their perceptions and satiate their curiosity.
Most parents find it difficult to talk about sex with their teens and teens find it difficult to hear from their parents. The challenge is to live out your values by overriding your icky feelings and talk to them anyway. In a nutshell, the key topics are boundaries, developing self-esteem and creating healthy relationships – with or without sex. There are plenty of conversation starters right in front of you. Song lyrics, adult sexual behavior in the family, TV shows and people in public are all sources of topical information. What does ‘bang bang on the front seat of the car’ mean in that song? Mom shows dad love by sitting next to him on the couch. Did you see those teenagers at the mall with their tongues touching?
Pleasure is not inherently evil. The lingering questions are:
What are you letting into your house (The Bachelorette, Wolf of Wallstreet, Fifty Shades of Grey)?
How is it influencing your curious adolescent?
What are you going to do about it?
We cannot complain about the influence of porn and media as it relates to young people’s sexual choices if we restrict them from getting honest, unembarrassed information from credible adult sources.
Julie Jones, MA, LMFT-S, LPC-S
Dean of Student Affairs