Every day in April, I’ll be posting a video about one of the questions in my guide, (Over) 100 Questions To Ask Your Kids About Sexuality. The guide is free and if you don’t have it, you can get it by clicking here. A comprehensive approach to teaching kids about sexuality includes conversations about not having sex. So today’s question is for your teens: “Why do you think some people choose to remain abstinent?”
In an earlier video I mentioned that by age 17, about two-thirds of youth have had a partnered sexual experience. Which means that by age 17, about a third of youth have never had sex with a partner. Also, not all teens try partnered sex stay remain sexually active throughout adolescence. Conclusion: there are a whole lot of teens out there who aren't having sex. I have another video on that topic and you can check it out here.
There are a lot of reasons teens choose abstinence. They may not feel ready for a sexual relationship. Or they try sex and realize that it’s not what they want at this point in their life.
Some teens want to wait until they reach a specific life milestone - prom, high school graduation, college, marriage, etc - before they have sex. Some teens have deeply held spiritual or religious beliefs that prohibit having sex.
There are teens are asexual, meaning they don’t have any desire for sex.
There are also teens who are abstinent because of circumstance. They may have an injury or an illness that makes sex difficult. They may be on medication that affects their sexual desire, or sexual functioning. Some teens would love to have sex in theory, but they don’t have a sexual partner in their life at the moment. There are teens are extremely busy with school, work, extracurricular activities and/or family responsibilities and they don’t have time for sex.
It’s okay to be abstinent Sometimes it seems like the whole world wants sex, needs sex, is having sex. But we aren’t. Abstinence normal and valid whether it’s a choice or by circumstance. We can remind teens that abstinence is that not only is abstinence common amongst teens, a lot of people have periods throughout their lives when they don't have much or any sex.
It's also valuable for teens who are or have been sexually active to know that they aren’t locked into that choice. Sex isn’t chips. Once you start, you can stop...for any reason, at any time. These conversations can help youth understand that different people have different sexual (and non-sexual) experiences. Your teen doesn’t have to make choices about their sexuality based on trying to be “normal” or what doing “everyone else” is doing. There’s no such thing as normal when it comes to sex. There’s just what works or what's happening for each person..and for many teens, what's happening is abstinence.