Don’t you sometimes wish your kids not grow up so fast?
Where did that tottering little munchkin in diapers go? In the blink of an eye, your daughter may have progressed to the experimental-fashion stage and perhaps your son seems to get noticeably shy when talking to girls in his class.
To quote the lyrics of the Disney song, your child’s coming of age is going to be “a whole new world”, and the “new fantastic point of view” will largely involve a growing awareness of one’s physical and emotional changes during puberty.
Here are some important topics you can talk about when educating your child about puberty, adolescence and relationships.
People say love is blind, but to an adolescent, matters of the heart can be confusing. As a parent, you can help your child navigate the differences between love, infatuation, desire and attraction. More importantly, he or she should understand the difference between love and sex, such as knowing that it is wrong to desire or demand sexual intimacy on the pretense of love.
2. Safe dating
To teenagers, dating often just means a chance to act like an adult, enjoy a movie or meal together and perhaps be romanced. This can be a safe and healthy part of growing up. Teach your kids how to recognise red flags before matters get out of hand with the following tips:
Start with group dates. There is safety in numbers and a lively gathering can be more fun
Avoid being alone with someone they or you don’t know well
Do not go to isolated or dark places, e.g. quiet parks or someone’s house when nobody is around
Stay aware and sober, which means avoid drinking alcohol or taking drugs
Learn to discern when a touch is inappropriate and if your teen feels uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to say no or tell someone about it
Set limits and boundaries
Recognise signs of peer pressure and walk away immediately if a date tries to force inappropriate behaviour on him or her
3. Sex, when it happens
Abstinence is the only 100% effective method for avoiding unwanted pregnancies and STIs, including HIV/AIDS. Your child should be well-educated on the consequences of teenage sex so try to equip yourself with all the facts you need to ensure you get an objective discussion going, without scaring your children.
i. Physical consequences:
Risks of contracting STIs/HIV
Consequences of unplanned teenage pregnancies
ii. Emotional consequences:
Guilt, fear, self-hate, or pain at being taken advantage of
Impact on self-esteem, and possible resulting risk-taking behaviors in future e.g. self-harm, smoking, alcohol or drug abuse etc.
iii. Social consequences:
A difficult situation such as hanging on to a soured relationship because of sexual involvement or an undesired early marriage due to an unplanned pregnancy
iv. Legal consequences:
In Singapore, it is against the law to have sexual intercourse with a girl below 16 years of age, with or without her consent;
Sexual intercourse with a girl below 14 years old, with or without her consent, is considered statutory rape and is punishable with jail-time or caning (or both);
In the case of unwanted pregnancies, teenage parents who abandon their babies can be fined or jailed
That’s not all. To learn more tips on how you can confidently approach your child to talk about puberty, adolescence and relationships, join us at Health Promotion Board Let’s Talk workshop. Sign up now at www.letstalk.sg
For more enquiries, check out www.letstalk.sg or call 1800 223 1313.