Let's Talk About Sex

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One concern many parents have for their teens involves promiscuous sexual behavior. According to The Saturday Early Show's Mike Riera, a parent's best defense is open, honest communication.

Not In My House

Dear Mike,

My 14-year-old has his first girlfriend. I told them I don't mind them kissing but they need to know each other inside and out before they even think about making love. And if they are thinking about it, they should talk to me first because they should use protection. The girl's mother and I have decided they should not be home alone. How can we make the kids understand that it is not that we don't trust them, it is the teen hormones that we don't trust?


Teresa, you are absolutely on the correct path. You must be clear on your values with your kids, focus on why you don't want them to do it and stick with the relationship.

They really need to know each other. The intimacy comes from the relationship, not from making love, and kids confuse that sometimes.

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At the same time, focus on safety. You're worried about condoms and safe sex. If they choose to go that way, keep the lines of communication open.

I think you're also right in not allowing the kids to be home alone. To back down would undercut the rest of your message. Kids need to get that message, and they need to feel the limits in their own home.

Short of putting chains on their feet, there's not much that you can do to stop them if they really want to have sex. The key is that you want them to be conscious and think it through as much as possible.

Dealing With Family Secrets

Dear Mike,

My 18-year-old niece has told me she has become sexually promiscuous in an effort to try and fit in. I am worried she is out of control and unprotected from disease and pregnancy. She has a history of depression and is on medication. Her parents ar unaware of this. What should I do?


She's clearly asking for your help. This is a big red flag. Being sexually promiscuous to fit in is a dangerous thing to do and she's probably not protected. You absolutely have to tell her parents what's going on. This is very important. At the same time, you should tell the niece that you're telling her parents, because you want to preserve your relationship with her.

Count on the niece getting down on her knees and begging you to not tell her parents. She is going to do this, but she wouldn't have told you unless she trusts you to do the right thing, the thing that she couldn't do, which is tell the parents. Your job with the niece is to say, "How should I tell your parents?"

Tell the niece when you're going to do it so that the niece can be prepared for it, but the information has to get to the parents.