The #metoo movement has opened up massive doors, for incredible conversations with our sons and daughters about appropriate behavior in the world of dating, and even sexuality.
For the last 28 years, number one best-selling author, counselor, and life Coach David Essel has been helping pre-teens, teens and their parents get on the same page when it comes to understanding the trials and tribulations of being an adolescent, with raging hormones in 2018.
Below, David talks about the importance, of teaching our children the concepts of respect, boundaries and consequences in the world of dating and relationships.
“He was only 12 years old, but he sat across from me in the office, filled with shame and guilt.
He told his parents he did something wrong on the school outing, and when his parents first heard him they were outrageously angry and disgusted. They couldn’t imagine their son doing such a despicable thing.
But as I got to know him, the only reason he told his parents was because he knew it was wrong… And he wanted to make his wrong, right.
And what did he do that created so much shame and guilt within this young boys mind and body?
He had touched a female classmate, someone he was attracted to, and someone who was attracted to him, in an inappropriate place, and believe it or not, it came at her request.
They were at a school outing and found a way to sneak from the crowd back onto the school bus where they were kissing each other for the first time. They both were getting extremely excited, and then she whispered in his ear to go ahead and touch her.
At first, he said no, but she was encouraging him to go ahead so he finally did. And when he did touch her in an inappropriate place, he immediately knew something was wrong.
He wasn’t ready for this, he didn’t even know what he was doing… Which started to create all kinds of anxiety in his mind and his body.
Within a few minutes, he told her he had to go, and got up and walked off the bus with her following him, asking him why he wouldn’t stay and continue what he was doing.
The minute he got home, he broke into tears and told his mother and father that he had done something wrong. When he explained what it was, that’s when their reaction went overboard.
But I actually understood his parents’ reaction, in the age of the #metoo movement, these are things that gets both boys and girls, young men and young women onto a pathway for problems not only in the present but down the road.
As I met with his parents, I told them that his shame and guilt, was actually a blessing, that they had raised him well, and this was not the time to scream and yell at him, but actually to talk to him about what he did, getting up and leaving, was the very best move he could’ve made.
And we could have 2020 hindsight, and tell him that what he started to do with her encouragement was wrong… Which we did of course… But I love the fact this young man was so brutally open and honest.
After his parents calmed down, we started to talk about the Tips I’m going to give below regarding dating, and sexuality as a preteen or teenager in the year 2018 and beyond.
It’s sad to see that it’s taken this long to come to the concept that sexual harassment is a major problem in the world today, and in the workplace, and in entertainment, and in politics… And every avenue that you can imagine including churches, synagogues, temples and more.
Sexual harassment has always been rampant, but now, with all of the recent movements in 2018, hopefully, we’re starting to learn that we’ve got to change our ways, we actually have to change belief systems in society that have been held for hundreds and hundreds of years.
So here are some guidelines that parents can use, when talking to their preteens and teenagers, to decrease the chances of someone becoming a predator or a victim in the world of sexual harassment:
6 guidelines to use when talking about sexuality with teens
Number one. Begin the talk early. At 10 years of age, I’ve even had young clients who were 11 and 12 years of age, that have already been sexually active from many months in a row.
So while many parents wait until a child is 13, 16 or unfortunately even 18 to start talking about appropriate sexual behavior, sexuality and more… We’ve got to bring it down to the younger age groups, and in my practice, we start as young as 10.
Number two. In my opinion, we cannot use threats, shame, and guilt when we talk about dating, sexuality and sexual relationships. Whatever we threaten teenagers with or pre-teens with, they’re probably going to have an even increased in interest in whatever we’re telling them not to do.
If you smoke, and you tell your pre-teens or teenagers not to smoke… What’s the usual end result of that? They want to experiment.
If you tell them sex is bad, kissing is bad, touching is bad… And there are ways to do that without saying that the activity is “bad“, you just may be increasing their interest, And out of a natural curiosity as I mentioned above, combined with raging hormones, you might be pushing them over the edge to experiment with something they’re not prepared to.
Number three. No, means no. I know that’s an old saying but it’s one we’ve got to reiterate especially to our young men, that if a girl says no when you ask to kiss her, the answer is no.
We can’t come up with excuses like “well she dressed a certain way, or she held my hand, or she winked at me… ” Or some other justification, we actually have to listen to what a young girl is saying, and if you have preteen boys or girls this is crucial to get across to them.
Number four. For preteen or teenage girls, the same is true, and in the case of my client above, we have to be very direct when we tell our young daughters that encouraging boys to start at the simplest level of even a kiss before they’re ready, can lead them down a pathway that they may regret in the future.
And while I never had a chance to talk to the young girl who encouraged my client to touch her in an inappropriate place, I wish I could have. I would’ve loved to ask her a series of questions, regarding how she had that idea, was she ever touch there before, was it by an older adult, was it by a boy her age, did she watch a video where this was being demonstrated… In other words, I would love to know outside of her own simple sexual curiosity, what led her to encourage a young man to touch her in the places she wanted to be touched.
Understanding that, can really help us educate our children about the dangers that can happen out of a simple curiosity.
Number five. We also need to explain what this rush of hormones is doing to our bodies, as young men and women go into and through the years of puberty.
Most parents don’t have the knowledge or education, nor are they willing to bring their preteens and teenagers into a counselor such as myself so that someone outside the family can explain the “natural urges towards intimacy and sexuality that happen during puberty.“
So many of the teenagers I have worked with in the past, when I explain this whole rush of hormones and what it means to be in puberty, are totally shocked to realize that what they been told is bad, what they’ve been told is against their religion, what they’ve been told is a reflection on how they have no self-control… Are all lies.
In other words, body chemistry is a natural part of our evolution, and having a curiosity about masturbation, orgasms, kissing, and even sex itself is a natural part of maturation.
Number six. This last one is huge. For years it’s been accepted, that it’s OK for boys to have sex with girls, to be dominant and take what they want at any and all ages, but it’s inappropriate for girls to have the same sexual urges.
And unfortunately, in our society, many boys grow up with the idea that they’re the ones in control, and girls should do what the boys want them to do, if they want to be liked, or if they want to be in a relationship with them.
This has to be shattered, and it either has to start in the home, or in the counselor’s office.
School systems are not equipped to do this. As I mentioned above most parents aren’t equipped to do this. But it must be done.
Sex education… Intimate education… Relationship education… What is appropriate in the world of dating… Needs to go into our mainstream, and that’s why I think the power of the #metoo movement can be to the advantage of parents, teachers, and counselors today.
Ever since this movement has come out, I have used articles in newspapers, clips from television shows, to explain to boys what happens when they become overly aggressive and don’t listen to a young girls pleas for him to stop.
I’ve also used the same articles, to educate young girls on the power to say no, to protect and respect their bodies, and to report any boy that is being sexually abusive to them, or sexually assaulting them, the day it happens, and not to let it simmer and sit underneath the surface for weeks, months, years or decades.
We need to take advantage of the current unfortunate situation of the #metoo movement, and use it as educational tools to educate our preteens and teens on what is appropriate and what is not appropriate in society.
Today is the day to start, not tomorrow.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Essel‘s work is highly endorsed by individuals like the late Wayne Dyer, and celebrity Jenny McCarthy says “David Essel is the new leader of the positive thinking movement.“
His work as a counselor and life coach has been verified by psychology today, and marriage.com has verified David as one of the top relationship counselors an expert in the world.