Friday, December 3, 2010

The Talk Can be as Easy as 1, 2, Glee

Tuesdays have become my favorite day of the week. I have a new found appreciation for track suits. I have never missed my days in high school show-choir more than I do now. …Yes I am a GLEEK. For those of you who haven’t experienced this hypnotizing TV series on Fox, my friends you are missing out. Glee is a blend of day-time soap opera drama, teenage hormones, high school survival skills and life lessons…all in perfect harmony, literally. Embedded in the script of perfect pitches and Brittany Spears dance moves are stories about love, sex and relationships among young people.

The storyline of Glee isn’t as frivolous as it appears to be, the plot has covered issues such as bullying based on sexual orientation, consequences of sexual behaviors including teen pregnancy, delinquent behaviors in high school, eating disorders and body image, and the various stereotypes that exist while in high school.

Last night, one of the characters of the show, Rachel, deliberately cheated on her boyfriend, Finn, in an effort to seek revenge on him because she thought he cheated on her. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, I feel that this type of “revenge” is far too common among teens today. Due to a lack of communication and the lack of healthy decision-making skills, teens are left to engage in risky sexual behaviors.

To be honest, it isn’t just teens that participate in this type of “revenge.” As adults, it is important for us to sit down with young people and discuss healthy behaviors in a relationship, including communication skills that will enable them to talk about their feelings with a partner. Adults are ultimately the lead characters of a young person’s life; it is our responsibility to role-model what healthy behaviors look like and to engage in open conversations about love, sex and relationships. Initiating discussions after watching a show like Glee could be one way of talking to your young person about how they feel about the behaviors that they have seen on TV and how they would have acted if put in the same position.

Initiating conversations after watching a TV show or movie together can take the stress off of you to know how to start “the talk.” Instead, you could say “so what would do you think about what Rachel did in Glee?” and use the storyline of the show as talking points.

Think of it this way, when it is time to initiate the conversation about love, sex and relationships - It is certainly better to GLEEK out than to freak out.

By Sarah Kershner, Evaluation Specialist at the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, PhD student at the University of South Carolina's Arnold School of Public Health
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