This post: 10 Ways to Help Your Teen to Say No to Sex
Written by: Terrie Lynn
Here’s a tidbit of information you might want to pass along to your teenager…not everyone is having sex.
In fact, fewer than 40% of American high schoolers have had sex, a decline of more than 15% since the early 1990s.
The historic drop is one of the findings in the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a biannual survey conducted by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) that tracks risky behaviors among America’s high schoolers.
Interestingly, though, if you ask a group of teenagers whether they think everyone else is having sex, you’ll likely receive a different perspective. Why? Because teens today are being exposed to the ideology that having sex and hooking up is the norm.
So, how should you broach the subject of sex with your teen? How can you prevent them from caving into peer pressure, doing something they’re not ready to do, or making a decision they’ll later regret? And, will talking to them about sex even help?
For starters, it’s naive to believe that your teen isn’t going to become curious about sex or that they won’t be tempted to have sex.
Rather than avoid the subject altogether, hope your teen makes the right decision, and deal with the possible negative outcome, you have to dive into open conversations with them, help them stand up to peer pressure, realize the impact of “heat of the moment” decisions, and help them understand that sex comes with consequences and responsibilities – not only for their body but for their mind, spirit, and emotions.
Does talking with teens about sex make a difference?
According to the CDC, the answer is “yes.” In national surveys conducted by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, teenagers admitted that their parents have the greatest influence over their decisions about sex – more than friends, siblings, or the media.
“When parents communicate honestly and openly with their teenager about sex, relationships, and the prevention of HIV, STDs, and pregnancy, they can greatly reduce the chances that their teen will engage in behaviors that place them at risk.”
How to get the conversation rolling:
Look for unique opportunities that open the door to the conversation:
- When you’re driving in the car together (when direct eye contact is at a minimum)
- Immediately following a relevant TV show or movie
- Through journaling back and forth
- Text messages where it might feel less threatening or embarrassing to your teen
- During casual, relaxed conversations that pop up between you and your teen
10 Ways to Help Your Teen to Say “No” to Sex
You can’t tell your teen NOT to have sex and leave it at that. In fact, one of the best ways to teach your teen to say “no” to sex is to step into their world, imagine how it feels to be them, and think about what they might be thinking or feeling. Then, you can use that awareness and look for opportunities to slip your guidance, advice, and moral beliefs into casual conversation. Here are 10 reasons why teens might want to have sex and ways to help your teen to say no.
1. I’m in Love… or I Think I am
I get it! But if you’re not ready to have sex, then sex won’t be a symbol of your love. At such a young age, you’re just beginning to learn what love is and chances are you’ll go down the “I’m in love” path time and time again. Plus, once you start having sex with your boyfriend/girlfriend, your relationship will change and you can’t go back. True love takes time to grow. Remember, there’s no shame in waiting.
2. He/She Loves Me
When your partner tosses out “I love you” statements, it doesn’t necessarily mean they cherish your relationship and they’re truly in love. Some people aren’t into sex for the purpose of love and commitment, but rather, for pleasure and to have a good time. Don’t be swayed so much by their words but by their actions and their willingness to wait until you’re ready.
3. My Friends Are Having Sex, So Maybe I Should Too
I understand that you want to fit in with your friends. But having sex is a big decision that you shouldn’t make merely because someone else is doing it. Let your friends follow their own path while you follow yours. Plus, giving your body to someone is a beautiful gift. It’s better to hold off until you’re mature enough to understand what a committed, loving relationship looks like and you’re sure you’re with someone you feel is special and who has made it clear to you that you’re special to them.
4. I Have a Hard Time Saying “No”
I know… you don’t want to appear prudish, rude, or afraid if you decline to have sex. It can be hard to say “no.” In fact, it might require a certain amount of boldness, bravery, and guts.
But having a strong self-worth, knowing your boundaries, thinking about what you’re willing to agree to (in advance), and focusing on what you want for yourself will help you gain the strength to say “no.”
And… you’re not being prudish or rude if you say, “No.” You’re doing what’s best for you. If they don’t like it, too bad!
If you don’t know what to say, here are suggestions from HealthyChildren.org:
- “I really like you a lot, but I’m just not ready to have sex.”
- “You’re really fun to be with, but I wouldn’t want to ruin our relationship with sex.”
- “You’re a great person, but sex isn’t how I prove I like someone.”
- “I’ve made the decision to wait until I’m married (or until I’m older) before I have sex.”
5. I Want to Be Popular
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be popular. You can be popular for being witty, smart, or sweet. But don’t fall into the trap of striving for popularity by having sex. It would be far better to be the girl that guys talk about saying, “She’s not that kind of girl,” instead of, “Oh, she’s so easy.” In the end, all you really have is your reputation. Don’t tarnish it simply to be liked by people who don’t have your best interest at heart.
6. I’m Feeling Pressured
Maybe you’re feeling pressured by your girlfriend or boyfriend or maybe your friends are daring you to go through with it. Regardless of where it’s coming from, pressure can be difficult. Sometimes, we believe we’re thinking on our own, but our decision-making stems from pleasing others or the crowd we’re hanging with. Don’t get swept up in the current of what others think is right for you. Remember, too, that regardless of how heated things get with your partner or even if they become frustrated or angry because you’re backing off, you’re never obligated to have sex. Stand strong!
7. I’m Curious What it’s Like
Your close friend is having sex with lots of guys, and she brags in detail about how wonderful her sexual adventures are. Now you’re curious. But what your friend isn’t telling you is the risk she’s taking or the STDs she’s potentially exposing herself to. It might sound fun or cool, but your friend could be headed for serious trouble. There’s nothing to be envied about that lifestyle.
8. If I Don’t Have Sex with Him/Her, They’ll Break Up with Me
Let them! Clearly, this person’s pattern is to see how many virgins (or sexual encounters) he/she can rack up. If you really want to see if he/she likes you, DON’T have sex with them. If they understand, they’re patient and they value your opinion, your feelings, and your desire to wait, then you’ll know you have someone special.
9. I Want to Feel Loved
Everyone wants to feel special and loved. But if you’re looking to feel loved only through physical expression, you’re missing out on the beauty of what love is. Give your relationship a chance to grow and blossom. Get to know one another and fall in love slowly. You deserve to feel loved for ALL of you – your heart, mind, and soul – not just your body.
10. If I Do, He/She Will Love Me More
Flat out “No.” Sex might make someone want you more. And, it might make them feel closer to you. But it won’t make them love you more – especially when it comes to young relationships in which both partners are still trying to figure out exactly what it means to be truly “in love.” Don’t cave into the notion that you have to have sex so someone will “love you more.” If he/she really loves you, it won’t matter if you have sex.
Parents, don’t avoid this subject with your teen. The more comfortable you are talking to your teen about sex, the more comfortable they’ll be coming to you to ask questions or even to tell you that they might be in over their head.
About Terrie Lynn:
Born and raised in Akron, Ohio, Terrie is a graduate of Georgia State University with a major in communication and a minor in theater. As a teen mom herself, she’s using her passion for writing and her past experiences not to preach or judge teenagers, but rather to assist them in making informed decisions about their lives.