13 to 17 Years Old
Guidelines of Positive Sexual Development
- Physically mature, but not yet emotionally mature
- Develop mutual and healthy relationships
- Have the ability to learn about intimate, long-term, loving relationships
- Understand abstract concepts related to sexuality, such as the positive and negative consequences of sexual expression and intercourse
- Know their sexual orientation (which gender they’re attracted to) or are exploring which gender they’re attracted to
- May have questions like,
- Are my breasts (or penis) too small?
- Is it weird that I am a virgin?
- Can I masturbate too much?
- How do you know if you are gay or lesbian?
- Can I get birth control without my parents’ knowing about it?
- Does it hurt to have sex?
How to Support your 13 to 17-Year-Old
Teens continue to need clear and accurate information – facts and family values – on which to base potentially life-changing sexual decisions.
With age-appropriate independence, most teens resist lectures and orders. Instead, find out what they already know and how they feel. Listen and stay calm. Prove that you can be trusted not to judge, even when you disagree.
Find opportunities to discuss:
- All the options, not just intercourse, for experiencing intimacy and expressing love–holding hands and kissing are sexual too.
- How your child will make the decision to have sex.
- How to prevent pregnancy. There are many contraception options.
- How to avoid contacting a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
- What are the options should unprotected sex happen.
- Scenarios of sexual coercion and abuse, ranging from lines like, “You would if you loved me,” to date rape.
- Future life options: to marry or not, to parent, be single or childless.
- The value and equality of different sexual orientations and sexual identities.
Provide opportunities for your teen to make decisions and figure out who they are and what they value.
Adolescent Development and Decision Making
|Adolescents are learning how to…
- Make good judgments about complex situations
- Control impulses
- Plan effectively
- Become self-sufficient
- Develop mature relationships with friends and family
- Increase power over their own lives
- Analyze and respond to media messages
- Direct and concrete support
- Open minds and honest conversations from parents
- Clear information about where to get help
- Clear information about how to make a sexual decision
- Help NOW (don’t wait for something negative to happen)