My Best Sex Advice – Especially for Teens

I taught Sex Ed for eight years at a local private high school. I loved it, mostly. The kids were great, it was the parents who were sometimes challenging and who needed hours of time outside the classroom to feel comfortable. There are many stories to tell, but that will come later.
I did hold back on a lot that I wanted to say. I have some regrets, there are things I would do differently. I would talk more about relationships, more about sexual pleasure, provide more context in addition to the basic factual information on birth control and STI prevention. I would have more conversations, especially, about Sylvia Hacker’s idea of promoting “outer-course”

That is my best sex advice for teens. Do you want to learn how to be the best lover? For that first relationship especially, don’t have intercourse for at least a year or two. Do everything else. Learn about your body, what you like, what turns you on, how you get off, what you don’t like. Learn the same about your partner. No penetrative sex for a very long time. You will become a very skilled, creative, and talented lover. You’ll learn how to pay attention to details – one of the other traits of a great lover.

I used to ask my classes – what do you need to have in place before having sex? The responses included marriage, a loving relationship, good communication, birth control, and other expected answers. One shy young man said “a job”. Everyone laughed, but I asked him to explain his answer. He said if something goes wrong, like an unexpected pregnancy, you would need money to have options so you could make good choices. A very wise 10th grader.
And that is another reason why the advice to stay away from sexual intercourse makes practical sense as well. Most teens want – and need to explore sex. Some feel that need acutely. But the overwhelming nature of sex, the possible consequences of pregnancy and STIs, the disruption it can cause, the moral and ethical decisions it requires, the possible emotional backlash, the likelihood of being in an abusive, coercive or exploitative relationship, are also all real. And are many times more likely to be a problem with penetrative sex.

There is very little said in high school and during sex ed classes about how to become a very good and responsible lover – a process that begins much earlier in life than we might want to admit or feel comfortable with. A teenager – enduring raging hormones and fantasies – is well into that process. We do mostly a dreadful job of teaching and helping them learn about sex. I did an adequate job myself during those eight years. I was profoundly careful and cautious, I felt I had to be with such a controversial topic, with so many opinions about what is right and wrong. It is a profoundly personal topic, and I tried my best to honor that while also teaching what was important. The basics.

Speaking ideally, a better method would be to take each kid aside, and ask them what they want to know, what they are ready to learn. Ensure one on one support for each kid that works for them respecting their maturity, their religious and moral beliefs, their current relationships, their interest in the subject. Match them with someone they feel comfortable talking with. Be available to help them process those first relationships, the first time falling in love, having a broken heart. Support them in making difficult decisions, help them learn what they need to know when they are ready to know it. But that is rarely possible. A few parents step into that role, and do it well. Most teens just can’t have the conversations that meet their needs with their own parents.

Should teens be having sex – full on penetrative possibly baby producing outside of marriage sex? Well, most adults (and with collected data and studies we know they mostly of those same adults were sexually active themselves when they were a teen) say no. Many teens also say no. Most of the teens I taught said no. They aren’t ready. And these teens should be given all the support and all the tools they need to live up to their ideals and beliefs and religious convictions and what they need. They need actual practice in how to say no. How to have that conversation successfully. And, some of the teens I taught were already saying oh, yes.
And for that rest, which can be as many as half the teens in any given class, let’s give them a reason to hold back, explore, learn, even enjoy, and a chance to develop a great and positive sex life that they can put into even more full use later in life.
It will make you a better lover in the long term. Delay penetrative sex. There may be some even better reasons developmentally, practically, morally, emotionally, even financially, and more. But we should certainly be offering this reason as well.

One Response to “My Best Sex Advice – Especially for Teens”

  1. Excellent advice on so many levels! Bob was a teen in the 50’s for me it was the 70’s. Together we raised 5 daughters. And have raised or help raise 5 of our grandchildren. Times have changed dramatically. “Chastity” is no longer the chief concern when raising children today. Even Single Parenthood is less of a concern than possible health risks that could devastate a life. The grandkids are fast approaching the age of experimentation and your blog is spot on for dealing with the issues they will be facing.

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