With Ontario's new sex education curriculum ready to go this September, there has been a lot of commentary around educating children and teens about sex and consent. All too often, we scare our kids about bad touch and inundate them with negative associations of sex. In light of this, I have written a letter of information with sex advice for teens which I have shared with my son and will share with my daughter when she is older.
Child of Mine,
You are starting high school and I want you to know some things about relationships and sex that we may not have discussed. Please feel free to ask me any questions you have after reading this note or any other time. I always want you to feel comfortable talking to me about all this stuff.
There will be kids who are already experimenting sexually, for all I know, you are too. Respect yourself and the people you are with. People are ready for different kinds of sexual expression at different times. Do not let your friends dictate what you should be doing. Kissing, touching, and other sexual experimentation is natural and fun when it is consensual (wanted by both people). Sex is also best when you choose someone you like and respect and who likes and respects you back. It is not enough to be physically ready. I would encourage you to wait until you are also emotionally ready. When you do begin experimenting, remember that what happens is private between you and your partner. Don't brag or gossip about what you have done.
Sex should be a positive and mutually enjoyable experience. Be generous. Find out what your partner wants to do and learn how to give them pleasure. Let your partner know what gives you pleasure and what does not. Hopefully, they will follow your lead and be as giving as you are with them. Never feel coerced (forced) to do something that you feel is wrong for you.
Communicate. If you feel hurt, betrayed, happy, sad, or confused share these feelings with your partner. Do not end a relationship just because you are mad. Take time to think about what made you angry and what part you played in the fight. Do not stay in a relationship if you find yourself constantly upset. Life is not a fairy tale. A good relationship requires work and compromise. It takes two people to make a great relationship and only one person to end it. That said, stay true to yourself. Don't try to be the person you think your partner wants you to be -- be who you are.
Grown ups often talk about the dangers of sex, and there are real risks involved. Some of the physical risks include pregnancy and STIs (sexually transmitted infections). This is why it is so important to use a condom every time (even for activities that do not involve penetration like oral sex). If you are too embarrassed to purchase contraception (birth control) or talk to your partner about birth control, ask yourself if you are really ready to be sexually active.
If you are ever feeling sexually frustrated or interested in being sexual (whether or not you are with a partner), learn how to pleasure yourself. Once you know what feels good it is easier to teach another person what you like.
In my opinion, the biggest emotional risk is a broken heart. The ache of rejection can be physically painful and last for quite some time. But I do think the saying, "it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" is true. When you decide to be sexual with another person, you are agreeing to deal with the physical and emotional risks.
So my child: Go forth. Be safe. Have fun.
Rae Dolman is a regular contributor to Her Magazine. Click here to read more of her posts. Rae is full-time mom and part-time sex therapist working at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.
*The postings on this blog are Rae Dolman's and do not necessarily represent Mount Sinai Hospital's positions or opinions.
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