Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Parent-Child Communication from a Big Sister’s Point of View

October is Let’s Talk Month where we encourage parents and other trusted adults to talk to teens about love, sex, and relationships. A trusted adult could be a pastor, coach, teacher, aunt, uncle, brother, or sister. I’m proud to say that I am someone my little sister trusts for accurate, reliable information. I’m only three years older than her, but I've always tried to look out for her, and protect her, giving feedback and guidance every step of the way.

Growing up in a single-parent household was tough because there wasn't a consistent father figure present, and I had to grow up so fast. I was faced with adult situations early on, making me mature much faster than most kids my age. With mama working odd shift to provide for us, I felt as if I were a substitute mom to my sister, holding myself responsible for her triumphs and mistakes. There were times my sister asked me situational questions about love, sex, and relationships that even I, in my infinite 20-something- year-old wisdom, had no experience with. When she would start her sentence off with “If a boy were to say…,” I knew I had to brace myself for something wild to follow. There were times like this that I wish she could talk to mama for guidance. But I knew the circumstances all too well. My mom wasn't exactly an “askable parent.” I didn’t even feel comfortable going to her with my own relationship woes, so I knew my sister wouldn’t dare ask her anything. That left me in the middle, sweating it out in an interrogation room plastered with B2K and Lil’ Bow Wow posters every Friday after school. I’m thankful that I happen to be a bookworm and had enough sense to use resources available to me for those questions about love, sex, and relationships that I couldn’t answer. I know there are thousands of single-parent families in South Carolina and you can only hope that the trusted adult would readily seek knowledge like I did. But we know that’s not the case. That being said, I would like to challenge parents to be more askable. An askable parent or adult is someone who listens, is nonjudgmental, conversational, welcoming, open, and honest. To sum it up, being askable means that you try to keep it real with your children without compromising the core values that you've instilled them.

I wouldn’t trade my upbringing for the world, but I had to grow up a lot faster than others and that’s a lot of pressure to put on someone who’s still a child themselves.  Being an askable parent doesn’t mean you have to compromise your values of your belief system, but if you don’t talk to your child about love, sex, and relationships, somebody else will.

For tips on how to be an askable parent and more, visit teenpregnancysc.org/parents!

by Shana Adams, Communications Assistant, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

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