Tuesday, August 6, 2013

“Summer Lovin’…had me a blast”

With the summer heat comes hormones, raging hormones. Young people are out of school and oftentimes find themselves with more free time and less supervision, which is the perfect cocktail for a good ole’ summer fling.

I remember the Summer of 1997 because my mother implemented the infamous list known around my neighborhood as “ ’97 rules.” These rules included “no boys upstairs, no boys and girls alone, no smacky-facing (aka kissing) boys” and of course “put your dishes in the dishwasher” and “sweep the kitchen floor.” I was a middle school girl with a sudden interest in boys and my mother worked tirelessly to instill a sense of self-worth and respect in myself so I wouldn’t be tempted by early sexual initiation. All too often young people don’t have anyone to talk to about their feelings and desires, which ultimately leads them to “trying out” those desires leading to pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. This isn’t to say that a young person’s feelings are not valid because as someone who met their soul mate at 15 years old, I do believe a young person can experience love. However, young people need adults in their lives to help guide their decisions to ensure that they are engaging in behaviors that are safe, healthy and will contribute to their future goals.

Particularly during the summer months, when a young person is out of school, they may be yearning for someone to talk to about their feelings. It is up to us as adults to provide a listening ear and nonjudgmental response. To a developing young person feeling a surge in hormones, the summer redefines experiences that used to be completely benign, such as the first sight of tan lines, bikinis or shirtless basketball games. It is our responsibility as adults to talk to the young people in our lives, listen to their stories of summer love and to help them make decisions that are safe and healthy.

I strongly believe that my mom’s ’97 rules were a way of making sure that we stayed safe, healthy and looked toward our future…even if I did steal a few kisses from boys that summer and I rarely ever swept the kitchen floor.

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