|image from blogs.marinij.com|
It turns out that this thoughtful statement is pretty radical in the United States. And that is probably why Amy Schalet's article in the New York Times is one of the top ten most frequently emailed articles today. Although her data is based on a very small (130) and narrow ("all white, middle class and not particularly religious") sample of people, it is provocative for many. It's difficult for most Americans to "normalize" teenage sex when such a loud section of the national discourse looks at sex as "urges" that people cannot manage well, that inevitably end in bad things like pregnancy, STD's and broken hearts. Teen sex is seen by many as something to be tamed, ignored, suppressed or at worst denied.
Some parents sanction a fully open relationship over sexuality and others, whether by tradition, faith, politics, or squeamishness, prefer to be discrete. All parents need to be as clear as possible about their values and the expectation that teens will be safe-emotionally and physically.
Schalet makes the interesting (and for many, counter-intuitive) point that parental involvement in their childrens' emotional and intimate lives allows them more ability to influence and protect. She nicely calls it "control through connection."
However, when I look at teenage sex through a developmental lens, whereby we expect adolescents to become independent, to make mistakes, to take risks and to experiment with lifestyles and relationships (meaning that sometimes they decide to breakup), it might be more difficult for the average teen to traverse these waters if the boyfriend or girlfriend has become part of the family.