I’ve hiked cliffs overlooking fjords. I’ve eaten tripe and brown cheese and squid. I’ve even gotten my nose pierced. But there’s one thing that truly and profoundly terrifies me: my children turning into teenagers.
As a former youth worker, I say this half-jokingly because I actually think teenagers are pretty awesome. My oldest child has entered adolescence, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the many new opportunities that come with this stage of the growing-up journey.
But it is also true that I am a bit afraid. Numbers like these frighten me:
- 46: The percentage of high school students today who’ve engaged in oral sex
- 47: The percentage who’ve had sexual intercourse.
- 11: The average age of a child’s first exposure to pornography
- 7.5: The number of hours an average teen spends daily on TV and other media
- 17: The percentage of teens who’ve seriously considered suicide
These numbers represent major trials and temptations. They represent pressure, painful consequences, and powerful, shaping influences on our kids’ sense of identity and their understanding of human relationships.
But scary numbers like these also motivate me to prepare and guide my children, especially when it comes to the tricky world of love, heartbreak, and dating that can dominate the teenage years. As peer pressure, media, and advertisements all try to influence my kids, my goal is to consistently speak a louder message. When it comes to dating in the teenage and young adult years, here’s what I most want to tell my children: