One of the most important conversation I've had with my teenage son.
Being a professional life coach for teens has its benefits and challenges. Frankly, most of the benefits come from my wonderful adolescent clients. Ironically, the biggest challenges come from my own teenage children. My oldest daughter is a senior in high school, and when it came to the “sex talk” I was told that I was not the appropriate parent. Even though I had numerous conversations time and again with other teens, it was clear that I wasn’t allowed to speak with her about this topic. I was given the reasons, relinquished that role and was promised an appropriate conversation would take place.
My son was a different story and I made sure I was an integral component of that conversation. When it was time for the “sex talk” at the beginning of his freshman year, I planned my strategy very carefully. There were times when I had brief conversations with him during middle school, but for the official “talk” I wanted to make sure my son had a positive and worthwhile experience. I knew it would be uncomfortable and awkward and wanted to make sure the environment was conducive to this conversation. I also wanted to ensure that we could have the necessary privacy to address the concerns, questions, and comments without distractions. In addition, I wanted to make sure I communicated my values and expectations with the possible choices facing him down the road. Here’s how I handled the conversation:
It was a weekday morning and I had just finished speaking to a group of middle school students. I allowed my son to spend the day with me because I was both visiting a school, as well as being interviewed for a local TV news show. He wanted to come with me to the studio and he expressed interest in my speaking.
I was a little concerned about him missing class, but I decided to use this time to have the “sex talk” conversation with him to ensure he had a learning experience regardless of not being in school. The day before I went to the pharmacy and purchased a cheap and basic box of condoms. I figured it was important to be able to have a ‘hands-on’ discussion to ensure I was able to communicate and express my words effectively.
We walked to the car following my presentation and we talked about the interview and remarks to the students. When we got to the car, we sat down and we headed back to my office. As I entered onto the highway, I reached under my seat and placed the box of condoms on his lap. The look of freight was priceless, and then his face flushed as his awareness of the situation became clear with the ensuing “sex talk” conversation. The first thing he said was, “Dad, please no. Not now. Do we have to have this talk now? I know all about this stuff.” I simply acknowledged his discomfort and told him it was important for me to have this conversation at this time.
As we raced down the highway driving 65 MPH it was clear the only option he had was to sit and listen to what I wanted to say. I validated his feelings and promised that the conversation would be short as long as he was willing to be an active participant. Once he realized the only option was to talk about sex, we had a great conversation about girls, condoms, sex, oral sex, physical attraction, masturbation, love, etc. The funniest part of the conversation came when we had a competition with one another about the various ways we refer to sex and masturbation. Fortunately I did not experience resistance, but there was a awkward and silent moment when I had him open up a condom and I made sure he know how to use one and how to take one off.
The final part of the conversation had less to do with sex and sexual behavior and more about the values I want him to live with when it comes to sex and relationships. I made it clear that I do love him unconditionally regardless of who he chooses to date. However, he did say that he was attracted to girls and that he knew that it was important to treat them with respect, dignity and kindness. We also discussed my desire for him to wait for intimacy until he was much older, in a serious relationship, or better yet married. Finally, we talked about the word “no.” I wanted him to know that “no does mean no” and to take that very seriously. I also told him he also has the right and ability to say “no” as well and by saying “no” would not make him any less of a man.
It had been a year since that conversation, but I still recall it with great pride. When I coach and speak with other parents I share that story to encourage them to do the same. It is an important conversation to have and affords one of those “once in a lifetime” moments for a parent and child. It can either be remembered as something that was relatively painless, or if ignored can be the “mistake” a parent makes because it was too awkward or inconvenient to do.
Coach Randy Nathan, MSW, PCC is a professional coach who works with middle school, high school, and college-aged students, their parents and their families. Through the powerful coaching process he inspires and motivates them to overcome major challenges and transitions as well as identify relevant opportunities in their life. Coach Randy writes for numerous publications and travels throughout the country as a motivational keynote speaker and workshop facilitator. He is the creator of Operation PRIDE, The LEAP Program, Peak Performance Coaching, Career JumpStart, and Workforce 2.0 - powerful programs for millennials. For more information go to www.projectnextgen.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.