Sex and Teenagers: One Family's Story

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Door in Soho, a teen center and health clinic, sex education, sex ed (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Later this morning, The Takeaway will speak with sociologist Amy Schalet about her new book, "Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens, and the Culture of Sex." Schalet compares American and Dutch families, and their attitudes about teenage sex. Beth Brotz, a parent in California, was thrilled to learn about Schalet's work. She talks about how she and her husband handled her teenage daughter's confession that she was sexually active with her boyfriend, and how their openness made them closer as a family.

Comments [4]

TeenNow California from San Diego

Thank you for sharing this and sparking conversation. Talk with your children about get tips and ideas on how to get the conversation started go to and

Nov. 01 2011 03:09 PM
Stephanie from Michigan

My Mother was also open with me about sex and making smart sex decisions. Once I had sex and I told her about it, she was okay with me having sex at home, because then she knew I would have sex safely. She didn't want me to have sex when I was young, but her view was that she could be more helpful by sharing her knowledge and guiding me through my new experiences with my sexuality.

Being open with her meant that if/when a relationship went badly, I could go to her and she was there for me with tissues and advice. Of course I made missteps and got hurt emotionally; that's part of being young and inexperienced. The important part, however, was that I came out of my two adolescent relationships with a my sexual health, and confidance in myself and my sexual agency. I don't think I would have had this kind of confidance if my Mother had been less open or if she'd shamed normal sexual behavior.

If my husband and I have daughters, they will be raised like my Mother raised me - without shame, with knowledge, and plenty of tissues, just in case.

Nov. 01 2011 08:36 AM
Loren Gomez from Medford, Massachusetts

I would like to let the listeners know about the sex education program called "Our Whole Lives" or OWL for short, a comprehensive and progressive sexuality education program developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. It is a completely secular program. However, the underlying values of the program reflect the justice oriented traditions of both denominations.

Like the values and discussions that take place in families in the Netherlands, OWL program was created in order to foster a positive attitude towards sexuality as a good part of the human experience. Sexuality is not just periods for girls and wet dreams for boys, which is all that is typically discussed. Rather, the program strives to explore and develop values and feelings about sexuality. Some of the lessons in this 27 week comprehensive curriculum cover the following topics: gender role attitudes, anatomy, masturbation, sexual orientation and gender identity, relationships, lovemaking, responsible sexual behavior, sexually transmitted diseases and preparing for parenthood. The program advocates abstinence but provides information about birth control and has lessons discussing how to decide whether young people are ready to have sex.

A common myth of sexuality education is that providing information about sex will cause teenagers to have sex. The truth is that providing the information that young people seek for and need as well as providing a place for them to talk about it, will create responsible individuals equipped to make educated decisions about their lives. I'd much rather live in a community of respectful happy individuals. That is why I am an instructor in the OWL program. I'd advise listeners to contact local Unitarian Universalist or UCC churches if they are interested in finding more about programs in their communities. There is also information on the UUA website.

Nov. 01 2011 07:25 AM
Kathy Branagan from boston

I am sure Ms. Brotz is a lovely person who is very brave to stand up for her actions, but I do not agree with this decision.
She states that her daughter was in a "Committed long-term relationship of 4-5months" she also states that her daughter's experience led her to "learn some hard lessons about physical intimacy at a young age" These are 2 very telling comments. First, the daughter should have been counselled about what a long-term relationship is. Secondly, a teenager needs to focus on themselves - their growth, their passions, their hobbies - not becoming embroiled in a short-term relationship that becomes too intense too early. A parent needs to repeat early and often that sex needlessly complicates an early relationship and a teenager has better things to do than focus on one other person exclusively. Teens need to be "finding themselves" and growing independently not latching on to another teen.
The fact that the boyfriend joined the family for many activities after the decision for sex was made demonstrates a real lack of boundaries on the part of the parents. They encouraged an intense relationship when they should have been focused on their daughter.
When I was in 8th grade, I actually had a classmate who told me openly that she could have sex in her house and her parents didn't care. At that time and now I find that sad. I remember thinking at the time that though my family may have problems at least my parents loved me enough to be my caretakers.

Nov. 01 2011 07:03 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.