You may be surprised to learn that young people do want to hear from parents and other adults about sex, love, and relationships. They say they appreciate - even crave - advice, direction, and support from adults who care about them. But sometimes, they suggest, adults need to change how they offer their guidance. Simply put, they want real communication, not lectures and not threats.
Show us why teen pregnancy is such a bad idea. For instance, let us hear directly from teen mothers and fathers about how hard it has been for them. Even though most of us don't want to get pregnant, sometimes we need real-life examples to help motivate us.
Talk to us honestly about love, sex, and relationships. Just because we're young doesn't mean that we can't fall in love or be deeply interested in sex. These feelings are very real and powerful to us. Help us to handle the feelings in a safe way - without getting hurt or hurting others.
Telling us not to have sex is not enough. Explain why you feel that way, and ask us what we think. Tell us how you felt as a teen. Listen to us and take our opinions seriously. And no lectures, please.
Whether we're having sex or not, we need to be prepared. We need to know how to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
If we ask you about sex or birth control, don't assume we are already having sex. We may just be curious, or we may just want to talk with someone we trust. And don't think giving us information about sex and birth control will encourage us to have sex.
Pay attention to us before we get into trouble. Programs for teen moms and teen fathers are great, but we all need encouragement, attention, and support. Reward us for doing the right thing - even when it seems like no big thing. Don't shower us with attention only when there is a baby involved.
Sometimes, all it takes not to have sex is not to have the opportunity. If you can't be home with us after school, make sure we have something to do that we really like, where there are other kids and some adults who are comfortable with kids our age. Often we have sex because there's not much else to do. Don't leave us alone so much.
We really care what you think, even if we don't always act like it. When we don't end up doing exactly what you tell us to, don't think that you've failed to reach us.
Show us what good, responsible relationships look like. We're as influenced by what you do as by what you say. If you demonstrate sharing, communication, and responsibility in your own relationships, we will be more likely to follow your example.
We hate "The Talk" as much as you do. Instead, start talking with us about sex and responsibility when we're young, and keep the conversation going as we grow older.