In the last section, we discussed techniques to use with teens who are prone to running away. These techniques were: Uncovering the Motives; Winning Cooperation; and Establishing Authority.
Almost all parents are appalled by the sexual maturity of their teens. However, among oppositional defiant teens, sexual promiscuity seems more prevalent as a means to rebel against parental restrictions. Immediately, they overreact to situations which, in most cases, are quite harmless.
For instance, Jonas, a healthy 14 year old, asked his parents, Bill and Adeline about sex. The very conservative parents began to use equivocal terms about flowers and storks. Their son corrected them, and began to use more anatomical language. This enraged the parents, who were infuriated that their son knew such terms. Have you ever encountered a certain hesitancy on the parents’ part in regards to sex?
In this section, we will examine teen promiscuity on several levels. These levels are: educating the parent; teen self-esteem; and internet activity.
3 Levels of Teen Promiscuity
♦ Level #1 - Educating the Parent
The first level is educating the parent about educating the teen. This may sound arbitrary and self-explanatory, but one of the most harmful policies a parent can take in regard to sexuality is a "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy. The teen, confused about the raging feelings he or she is experiencing, wants a guide through these difficult times.
Most parents are shy, as were Bill and Adeline, and really don’t have any communication skills to start with. Adeline stated, "If we tell Jonas about sex, this might make him want to have sex even more! I don’t want to encourage that behavior! It’s against God’s law to have sex before marriage!" I then stated to Adeline, "Yes, but what happens if Jonas becomes so curious he decides to find out for himself? He may not have had any kind of structuring from you and his first experience might be an awful one. But I also think that having a "sex talk" will prepare your son and help him resist having superficial sex."
3 Common Questions about Sex
To help Adeline and Bill educate Jonas, I directed them to www.teenpregnancy.org which is an excellent resource for parents. Also, I gave them a List of Common Questions most teens have in regard to sex, taken off of the website:
1. "When is it ok to have sex?"
2. "How far is too far for my age?"
3. "What is the difference between intimacy and sex?"
The next time Jonas approached his parents about sex, Bill started out the conversation with this statement, "Son, it’s been difficult for us to realize that you are growing so fast. Soon, you’ll be a man and have to make decisions for yourself. But for right now, since you’re still living with us, we would like you to live an abstinent, Christian life. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have." This statement compromises between the parents’ moral convictions while still keeping an open mind to their son’s flowering adolescence.
♦ Level #2 - Increasing Teen Self-Esteem
A second level is increasing teen self-esteem. One of the main factors in teen promiscuity is self-esteem. When a teen has little or no self-confidence, he or she will use sex as a means to build confidence.
Shelly, 13, told me, "I love getting the attention, even if it is because I’m a slut. It’s better than being a nobody." I asked Shelly if she ever used protection. She stated, "Not all the time. I kind of want to have a kid." I asked her why. She stated, "Well, sometimes I’m too scared to tell the boy no. Also, I want a baby. I want to feel love for something and maybe someone else will love me too."
Her parents, Joan and Edward, were appalled when they heard this. I told them, "Shelly is suffering from a lack of self-esteem. She uses sex to compensate for truly worthwhile characteristics." I suggested that Shelly pick up an activity. Her parents, knowing that Shelly loved animals, promised to pay her ten dollars a day if she worked from three to seven twice a week at the animal shelter. Shelly agreed.
Not only did she not have time for a social life, the responsibilities and joys which came with working at the shelter increased her confidence. Joan said, "It’s like she’s a new person. She looks people in the eye and answers them in the surest voice I’ve ever heard come from her."
Shelly related one story to me, "One day, they brought this beagle puppy in that was run over by a car. No one had fed him in weeks. They thought he was going to die. I fed him from an eye dropper and asked my mom if I could spend the night with him. The next morning, he was licking my face. I named him ‘Miracle.’ Mom said I could keep him." Think of your Shelly. Could he or she need a self-esteem booster? How could they attain better self-esteem? For more confidence-building tips, refer to section 3.
♦ Level #3 - Monitoring Internet Activity
In addition to educating the parent and improving self-esteem, the third level is monitoring internet activity. In the last several years, the number of teen internet users has jumped dramatically. Unfortunately, the increased, unmonitored usage of the internet by minors has also increased the number of predators in chat rooms and on instant message profiles.
A parent’s worst nightmare is that his or her son or daughter will be tricked into meeting with a sexual predator. However, it is not only the fear of predators that causes parents to worry about their teen surfing the net, but also what their teen is learning from people of their own age. Many teens will chat with other teens, sharing information and numbers in order to get in contact with them. In order to prevent this, I ask that parents take a more active role in the internet use of their teen.
Julia, the 13 year old daughter of Kyle and Laura, was caught surfing sexually explicit chat rooms and conversing provocatively with other members of the chat room. Of course, Kyle and Laura were dismayed to find out their little girl had been communicating with strangers. Laura stated, "I didn’t know what to think! My little girl thinks she’s all grown up, but she’s not!" Julia, angered that her parents had taken away all internet rights, stated, "I’m not a little kid anymore. I’ve had sex, boys like me. I like the attention. I meet with guys from chat rooms all the time. They’re not gross old men! They’ve almost all been my age!"
Some of the techniques I gave Laura and Kyle to help supervise Julia’s internet activity included parental blocks; placing the computer in a room which the entire family uses regularly; limiting Julia’s internet time; and scanning the computer regularly for pornographic downloads. Luckily, Kyle worked as a computer customer service representative, so he knew how to set up the parental blocks. However, many parents do not know how to use a computer besides the basic applications. I always suggest reviewing some of the basics through an online course or one that can be bought at a store. Think of your Julia. Is his or her promiscuity a result of inappropriate internet usage?
In this section, we presented teen promiscuity on three different levels. These levels are: educating the parent; teen self-esteem; and internet activity.
- Crosby, R. A., Hanson, A., & Rager, K. (2009). The Protective Value of Parental Sex Education: A Clinic-Based Exploratory Study of Adolescent Females. Journal of Pediatric & Adolescent Gynecology, 22(3).
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Deptula, D. P., Henry, D. B., & Schoeny, M. E. (2010). How can parents make a difference? Longitudinal associations with adolescent sexual behavior. Journal of Family Psychology, 24(6), 731–739.
Dishion, T. J., Ha, T., & Véronneau, M.-H. (2012). An ecological analysis of the effects of deviant peer clustering on sexual promiscuity, problem behavior, and childbearing from early adolescence to adulthood: An enhancement of the life history framework. Developmental Psychology, 48(3), 703–717.
Hadley, W., Hunter, H. L., Tolou-Shams, M., Lescano, C., Thompson, A., Donenberg, G., DiClemente, R., Brown, L. K., & Project STYLE Study Group. (2011). Monitoring challenges: A closer look at parental monitoring, maternal psychopathology, and adolescent sexual risk. Journal of Family Psychology, 25(2), 319–323.
Online Continuing Education QUESTION 14
What are three levels on which teen promiscuity may be examined?
To select and enter your answer go to .
This course has covered such topics as: reframing; the three-dimensional model; building teen confidence; redefining parent rules; identifying and destroying the inner critic; engaging compassion; tackling mistakes; controlling teenage outbursts; creating a family agreement contract; keeping cool; alcohol abuse; running away; and teen promiscuity.
I hope you have found the information to be both practical and beneficial. We appreciate that you've chosen the Healthcare Training Institute as a means for receiving your continuing education credit.
Other Home Study Courses we offer include: Treating Teen Self Mutilation; Treating Post Holiday Let-Down and Depression; Living with Secrets: Treating Childhood Sexual Trauma; Interventions for Anxiety Disorders with Children and Adults; and Balancing the Power Dynamic in the Therapeutic Relationship.
I wish you the best of luck in your practice. Thank you. Please consider us for future home study needs.