TEENAGERS AND SEXDespite all the education and knowledge that the parents might have personally acquired and also that they might have imparted to their children, the problem of ‘teenagers and sex’ continues to be a matter of concern for everyone. There are too many factors, each pulling in a different direction, ending up only in utter confusion.

Nature provides that a girl is ready at the age of eleven or twelve to conceive a baby. Nature also provides that she can have a baby almost every year as long as she is fit and healthy to bear children. At the same time, nature has provided that a boy is sexually at peak around the age of sixteen. Despite what the nature has provided, mankind feels that a man and a woman should bear a child only when they are in a position to raise a family, which comes much later in life. The obvious thing then is that men and women (or boys and girls) must observe restraint until such time as they are ready to have a home and raise a family.

Although the pre-historic man lived instinctively following the urges, as in animals, with time and development of the society the institution of marriage was introduced to have a disciplined society where one man lived-with one woman and together they built a home and raised a family.

Since a man and a woman are ready for marriage only when they are economically ready to make a home, the society expects them to observe sexual restraint until marriage. While this has continued for hundreds of years, swith the development of contraceptive pills and devices, teenagers are encouraged to indulge in sex without the liability of getting married. This has given them the option to not observe restraint, but has resulted in a variety of problems like unwanted pregnancies, forced sex, rape, blackmail and even physical injury.

Since a sexual relationship in teenagers could be a mutually agreed physical relationship, the emotional injury caused by the breakdown of such a relationship could be as severe as that of a divorce in a married couple. With greater freedom many teenagers are known to have a series of these relationships to the extent that when they actually come to a stage when they are ready for marriage, they are already an emotional wreck because of the past relationships, some good, others hurting.

Teenagers who have gone through such experiences are haunted by the past memories as they relive some of the past experiences. They are unable to create a fair balance in their married life.

Most parents already have their own experiences to draw upon when their children are teenagers and passing through this stage. Though .the parents would- want to relate their own experiences with those of their children, but they overlook that since their own time a new generation has come up, ideologies have undergone a very rapid change, and with the availability of greater freedom and contraceptive devices, life is very different. Teenagers have different expectations.

Most parents are confused and fail to understand what would be best for their teenage child. While eastern cultures still advocate sex through marriage only and believe that self restraint is not difficult, the western cultures seek total freedom of sexual activity. In the developing countries we see a mixture of the two ideologies.

Whatever arguments may be put forward in favour or against the concept of practising self-restraint, experience has repeatedly and convincingly confirmed that self-restraint leads to emotional maturity and a balanced outlook. A good marriage is not based upon a series of good and bad sexual intimacies, but upon emotional stability and commitment towards the relationship. While a casual sexual relationship between consenting unmarried couples is a momentary experience of pleasure or pain, the relationship between married couples is a satisfying deep emotional affair, which brings the two still closer.

Parents who communicate well and enjoy the confidence of their child can patiently explain the correct facts and suggest why self-restraint is the best policy. Ideal parenting also requires that the child should be guided and made prepared for a mature marital relationship.