First I hate the term “hooking up.” The casual tone desensitizes our teens to the importance of waiting to engage in sexual intercourse and infers a type of haphazard interlude devoid of sentiment.
“Hooking Up” has a myriad of definitions. It can include foreplay, oral sex or actual intercourse, depending on the school your teen attends. But, the pressures and expectations associated with it are the same, no matter where you live.
The media negatively influences young teens with its cavalier attitude toward sex. Sex both intimidates and intrigues boys and girls, and this generation is engaging in sexual acts that are developmentally inappropriate and dangerously provocative.
I speak openly about my feelings to my own children, but that doesn’t mean I am going to win the fight over what teens are exposed to every day. I hope the constant talking influences teens—I believe that what I say matters—but I could be very wrong.
As a parent, my goal is to keep my children from taking off their clothes for as long as possible. That’s the truth. I am frightened by stories of teen girls losing their virginity as freshmen in high school; I don’t believe that a young girl is prepared to endure the emotional ramifications of such an act.
So, I talk and I preach that this act is one to savor, to trust and to respect. I tell them that sexual intercourse is not mandatory because you’ve dated for a while, nor is it recreation because there was nothing good on TV.
I use scare tactics that have bought me some time (Do you really want someone seeing you naked? Do you know how easy it is to get pregnant? Do you know how easy it is to get an STD?). I’ve also enlisted the support of the “cool” pediatrician, who candidly and unabashedly speaks about sex, drugs, condoms and the emotional piece—hold off a bit and take a breath.
Gay or straight—my teens need to understand the importance of waiting this one out.
Some may be uncomfortable with how open my husband and I have chosen to be, but it works for us. Our kids will make mistakes, but I will continue to help them fight the social pressure of having sex to just “do it” and get it over with. These attitudes are furiously unacceptable to me.
Having a gay son has presented other health concerns that we addressed head on. The gay dating community is unlike anything else. We insisted our son be prepared.
I won’t let this generation get the best of me, not when my children are at the heart of it. Overcoming the discomfort of talking about the perils of hooking up far outweighs the potential consequences of losing your kid’s innocence to a night of inappropriate behavior. I refuse to surrender without a fight.
Debby Shulman is a college essay consultant and academic tutor with a private practice in Northbrook, Illinois. She also blogs for Your Teen.
Read more articles in our series on The Hookup Culture:
The Hookup Culture—Expert View: How to Talk to Your Teenager
The Hookup Culture—Expert View: Understanding Teen Attitudes Toward Sex
The Hookup Culture—Teen View: I Wish I Had Waited
The Hookup Culture—Teen View: Hooking Up Can Be Confusing