Q: What can we do as parents to help our teenager remain sexually pure?
A: Children should be introduced to age-appropriate sex education and the purpose of marriage while they’re still young. Start by creating an environment where your child feels comfortable and safe to talk about his or her life interests and concerns. Healthy discussions about sexuality can be broached naturally. Research shows that teens who are close to their parents, and whose parents clearly communicate their expectations regarding sexual intimacy, are less likely to engage in pre-marital sex.
It is also important to teach them character discernment – help your child understand that while physical attractiveness may initially draw us to a person, the quality of that individual’s character is far more important in the long run.
When your teen becomes involved with a member of the opposite sex, adopt the approach of “trust but verify”. Let him know that you’ll take his word when he says he is not engaging in any inappropriate behavior with his girlfriend. Help them set boundaries when it comes to spending time together. Specify that it’s fine for them to go out in a group and to invite her over when you’re home, but that you don’t want them spending time alone in a house, whether his or hers.
You may also have a conversation with his girlfriend’s (in the case of a daughter, boyfriend’s) parents. Invite them to dinner, get to know them better. Understanding their values and the guidelines they’ve established will help you gauge how healthy this relationship is, and the guidance the young couple will need.
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