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Adolescent Sexuality and Parents' Anxiety

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Adolescent Sexuality and Parents' Anxiety

4 min read


This article stresses the importance of understanding the emergence and display of sexuality in adolescence which creates conflicts in the family and society.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At March 20, 2015
Reviewed AtMarch 5, 2024


Adolescents need to explore and display their sexuality, which forms an essential part of their emerging identity. The media, popular culture, and technology often determine how this is done. The consensus and research on drug abuse and violence have shown that greater exposure to similar content through media leads to adopting the same values and ideals in individuals.

How Are Parents Worried About Their Teen Kids?

Parents are often worried about their teen kids going down the wrong path. However, when parents keep them away from exploring sexuality and deny discussing their issues, kids may choose their own path, which may be dangerous. For example, a father may get disturbed when his son gets a tattoo on his hand without permission. The fact is that parents and their teen kids often have a tussle over haircuts, clothes, and styling preferences. Realizing that he would not get the required permission from his father, he chose to commit a lesser crime of not asking for approval than defying orders.

What Causes Anxiety in Parents While Discussing Sexuality With Teen Kids?

Most parents try to avoid talking to their kids about topics related to sexuality because of anxiety. Some of the reasons for hesitation are,

  • Parents may not know the exact answer or the proper language to communicate in a better way. In addition, their perception may be different from their kids or the other parent.

  • Parents may fear infusing too much information beyond the kid's age and exposing them to abuse.

  • Parents often feel uncomfortable talking about conception, contraception, relationships, separation, and abuse experiences.

What Are the Concrete Points that Parents Can Talk With Their Teen Kids About Sexuality?

  • The parents must educate themselves first, then initiate a conversation with their kids about sexuality. They must consider their values and emotions, and be able to understand what is important to be transmitted to their children.

  • A friendly talk is one of the best-understood practices that parents can follow to talk to teens. Parents must start communicating well with their kids from early childhood. Then, kids should begin feeling the comfort, support, and reinforcement from their parent's words.

  • The interaction should be a general discussion or conversation with few teachable moments. Parents must indulge in regular and frequent open talk so that any change in behavior or sudden silence in the teens can be identified and addressed. They must share their personal experiences, daily life events, or some scripted examples.

  • They must be clear in their approach and must admit when they do not know anything or any answer to their children’s questions.

What Can Parents Expect From Teen Kids Regarding Sexuality?

According to age and development, teen kids have different perceptions of understanding sexuality.

  • For Kids Between the Age of 7 to 10 Years: This is a preadolescence stage. These kids know their body parts and functions. They may be curious about their physical development. Few girls may attain puberty at this age, and parents must be ready to teach them essential sexual health and hygiene.

  • For Kids Between the Age of 11 to 12 Years: This is the early adolescence stage. These kids start enjoying sexual humor. They try to explore content like masturbation, sexual words, and their spectrum. Parents must teach them about anal sex, oral sex, homosexuality, and erection kind of things.

  • For Kids Between the Age of 13 to 14 Years: This is the early mid-adolescence stage. Most of these kids are aware of many sexual behaviors and will experience infatuation. Therefore, one can expect questions about condoms, pregnancy, and orgasms from these kids.

  • For Kids Between the Age of 15 to 16 Years: This is the late mid-adolescence stage. These kids struggle between love and lust. Therefore, it is ideal to know about sexually transmitted diseases and their development.

  • For Kids Between the Age of 17 to 18 Years: This is the late adolescence stage. Most of these kids have a solid mental and physical attraction to the person they like. Parents can talk in detail about sexuality since they are reaching their adult stage.

What Critical Subjects Should Parents Cover While Talking About Sexuality to Their Kids?

Discussion about sexuality should infuse positive values in mind instead of fear. Some of the major topics to be covered are:

  • Human Biology: The first step is to teach them about the sex organs and their function. Knowledge about the intimate parts' health, hygiene, and sensitivity will help children in the early development phase.

  • Puberty: Both the boys and the girls must be taught about the hormonal and physical changes that occur during puberty. Better understanding will induce bodily confidence and acceptance of natural development.

  • Sexual Desire and Arousal: Teen kids must know the recognition of sexual stimuli and awareness of arousal to get a balance in sexual behavior.

  • Gender Identity: Discussion about sexual orientation with kids helps them express their physical and emotional inclinations and respect others' choices and identities.

  • Relationship and Romance: Kids are exposed to terms like love, lust, romance, and break-up in a relationship. Realizing the exact facts and differences between them is a critical developmental task.

  • Masturbation: Many teen kids would never know about masturbation even if they are involved in the habit. Instead, they need to understand that it is a natural process and be aware of the extent, time, and place of performance.

  • Contraception: Though parents should encourage self-restrained sexual behavior in their kids, the ideal use of contraception and its benefits can guide them in a safe relationship, especially for teen kids above the age of sixteen years.

  • Media and Sexuality: The prevalence of sexual content in mass media is unavoidable nowadays, and it can exploit the minds of adolescent people. Therefore, parents must converse with their children to understand their perception of exposure.

  • Sexual Abuse: One of the essential topics that parents must address at a very early age is the bad touch and good touch. Sexual abuse may create an enduring mental scar in the kid's mind that may infuse fear about the sexual relationship anytime in the future.


Parents are worried about messages posted on social media by their children. These displays often create tensions in the family. But unfortunately, our society’s attitude is more of restriction than encouragement. These displays of adolescent sexuality often remind the aging parents of their receding sexuality and struggle to come to terms with it. This creates anxiety and fear in them. A few sessions of discussion about understanding adolescent psychology, the importance of watchful supervision of the parent, and discussion of health risks posed by activities are enough to settle the issue. Adolescents need to make informed, responsible choices.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Does Puberty Impact Sexuality?

Many things, such as a person's gender identity, sexual orientation, the culture they live in, and how their body develops, impact adolescent sexuality. However, they will develop a sense of their sexuality during the teen years, resulting in fulfilling, responsible sexual interactions later in life.


Who Does a Person Talk to When They Are Concerned About Their Sexuality?

People can discuss their body and sexual health with someone at their nearby planned parenthood health clinic. In addition, through special programs or events, teens can acquire the information they need at many planned parenthood health facilities.


What Impact Does Family Have On Sexuality?

Compared to adolescents from single-parent, cohabiting stepfather, and married stepfather households, analysis has shown that youngsters that belong to married, biological two-parent families are less likely to engage in unprotected sex and early sexual initiation. Conversely, children reared by single parents are more likely to experience early sexual awakening and conception.


Is It Typical for an Adolescent to Have Sexual Identity Issues?

It is common for teenagers to struggle with their identity; it is an essential part of growing up. And examining one's sexual orientation is necessary for discovering one's identity. It is common to have doubts about their sexual orientation, whether gay, lesbian, or bisexual. It is part of the process of getting to know themselves.


Why Should Someone Be Worried About Teenage Sexuality Issues?

Inadequate sex education frequently leads to unprotected sex, unwanted pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases. Adolescence presents various challenges aside from those related to sexual approaches and encounters. One of the significant issues facing adolescents is interpersonal violence.


How Does One Approach Their Kid About Her Sexual Orientation?

The following points can help parents on how to talk to and support children about how they may identify their sexuality-
By creating a safe space for them and encouraging them to be more open.
Respect the child's own experiences.
Give them some distance.
Find assistance.
Do not reveal their matters in public without their permission.
Others might not be as understanding, but they should always show respect for children. Even if one's opinion cannot be changed, one can instruct others on how to interact or converse with the youngster.


What Effects Does Sexuality Have on a Person and Their Family's Health?

Being a human involves having a sexual orientation. Love, affection, and sexual intimacy facilitate healthy relationships and personal well-being. However, in addition to the benefits of human sexuality, conditions, conflicting feelings, and unintentional repercussions may harm one's sexual well-being.


What Problems Do Young People Have With Sexuality?

Problems that young people have with sexuality include-
Marginalization and discrimination. 
Violence (gender-based and sexual violence). 
Lack of access to services for sexual and reproductive health. 
Lack of access to education, which includes thorough sexual education.


Is Sexual Experimentation Among Teenagers Usual?

Most teenagers, at some point, experiment with sexual behavior; this need is common, natural, and strong during these years. Sex is not required in every teen relationship, though. Additionally, adolescents are developing emotionally and socially. Therefore, they could seek ways to show love, affection, and romantic connections.


What Are the Five Sexual Circles?

Five circles of sexuality are-
Sexual identity.
Sexual health and reproduction.


What Is the Word People Use When They Doubt Their Sexuality?

People trying to figure out their sexual orientation are referred to as queer or questioning.


Does Sexuality Alter With Aging?

According to a study, sexuality continues to develop and change into adulthood. According to a recent study, the standard categories of "gay," "bisexual," and "straight" do not adequately describe the complete spectrum of human sexuality, and a person's attraction to the same or opposite sex might shift over time.


What Age Is It Acceptable to Discuss Sexuality?

Before a child enters puberty, it is a good idea to start talking to them about how their bodies change during the process. The child may be between the ages of six and eight. Parents must remain composed if the child encounters sexting or porn.


How Can Teenagers Gain Confidence?

Parents can build the confidence of their teenage kids by keeping the following points in mind-
Have discussions on subjects they find interesting.
Encourage them to make decisions.
When they express their opinion, pay attention.
Encourage group activities.
Showcase both giving and receiving praise.
Praise effort rather than the result.
Practice using uplifting self-talk.
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Dr. Arun Vangili



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