You are celebrating because your child is about to graduate from high school. Woo hoo! Now he or she is ready to go on to post-high school life… right?
I’ve been there multiple times — a dad is excited for his child’s next journey in life. The question is, “Is our child ready? What about sexually?”
Teen sexual culture: Impressing your date & playing the dating game
When many parents think of the sexual culture on college campuses, on military installations, or anywhere young adults are living on their own, parents can suddenly feel a rush of panic. “Oh no!”
Suddenly that journey approaching your child feels scary. You won’t be physically there with them anymore. You also might not get to talk with them every day — maybe not even every week.
So how can you prepare your children for this big new world?
Start by being honest about what they are likely to see, giving good examples and bad. Instead of lecturing, focus on the opportunities they are going to have for making exciting decisions (some easier than others).
While this can be a serious conversation, you can make it engaging. Ask what dating advice they have received or have even “heard” through the grapevine? Share some of the crazy advice you received. This is an enlightening way to discuss how friends can share well-intentioned, but very misguided, topics like how to impress your date or ways to play the dating game.
The way to address such topics is simple — be honest. For example, talk to them about trying this advice:
Don’t try to impress your dating partner. Trying to impress other people leads to misleading behavior from you. Be the same person that we know and love.
By acting differently, you are not being your authentic self.
In a game, you have two competitors going against each other. Both competitors are trying to win at the other competitor’s cost. A great competitor does everything to play directly against the opponent’s weakness. Turning a date into a game is a bad decision.
Try this as a family: Write down more ways friends can be bad influences on your student’s dating life. Then work — again, as a family — to decide how your child can best block out those negative influences.
5 tips for making smarter decisions
Here are five tips you can give your graduating student so they can add these decision-making tools to their arsenal and use them, even when mom and dad are no longer physically there! (I share many more ideas in “Can I Kiss You?” — A thought-provoking look at relationships, intimacy, and sexual assault.)
1. “Choose who you want to and who you don’t want to hang with. You never owe anyone your time.”
2. “Choose who you want to be sexually intimate with and/or don’t want to be sexually intimate with.”
3. “Know that no one has the right to violate your boundaries — ever. You always deserve a choice!”
4. “Know that an incapacitated person (through drugs, alcohol, or other) deserves to be treated with dignity and respect — just as all human beings do. Remember: You also deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of what choices you make along your journey.”
5. “I will always be here for you. Always. While I know it can be normal to not want to disappoint one’s parents and/or feel like parents might be judging you, know our love for your overrules everything — always!”
What else could you add to this list? Share in the “comments” section below. Let’s help each other’s children be better prepared for this next journey. And congrats on your upcoming high school graduate! Exciting times are ahead.