Sunday, 12 August 2012

If Only One

Sunday, Aug 12, 2012 02:00 AM +0100

Sex? Not my kid!

"A new book explores parental delusions about their teens' sexuality

“Not my kid!” It’s the refrain heard regularly not just on trashy daytime talk shows but, as sociologist Sinikka Elliott found, when parents talk about their teenagers and sex.

The North Carolina State University professor interviewed parents in an unnamed red state for her book, “Not My Kid: What Parents Believe About the Sex Lives of Their Teenagers,” and found an impressive level of denial. “Teenagers’ actual behaviors,” she writes, “do not seem very significant in terms of shaping the sense parents have that their own teens are young, immature, and naive.” Drug use, vandalism, even pregnancy often fails to destroy this fantasy.

The same is true of parents’ own memories about what it was actually like being a teen. At the same time, though, sexual threats are seen as ever present — from someone else’s sex-crazed kid, someone else’s corruptive parental influence, someone else’s perversion. Rarely do parents attribute the risk to their own child’s sexual desire or agency. Surprise, surprise."

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