Friday, April 12, 2013

Those Three Little Words

Those three little words…
My eldest son is preparing for his leaving cert at the moment and I find myself uttering three little words in various configurations, but all meaning the same thing:  Have you studied?  Are you studying? Have you started? Have you finished? Are you ok? How’s the stress? How’s the studying? Is that it? Is there more? Will you study? Etc, etc etc.  I feel like a broken record.  I feel like I’m creating unnecessary stress for him, but at the same time I also feel as a parent it’s my job to make sure he is at least taking out the books and even ‘pretending’ to study.  Then I feel better!  But its not really anything to do with me, as I have told him repeatedly, I already did ‘my time’.  Looking at the amount of work my son has to do however does not feel familiar to me.  It’s over twenty years since I did any state exams and it appears a lot has changed in that time.  For anyone who has any sort of difficulty it must be an absolute nightmare to try and remember, recall and regurgitate the amount of information now expected.  My heart goes out to my son every time I see his stressed face and his sunken shoulders.  Like many of his classmates, the final push is now on to try and remember as much as possible before the end of May.  So revision is the word of the moment.  But if I was to ask him his word of the moment, it can be taken from the following list: stress, anxiety, pressure, tension, worry, burden, fear and apprehension.  As an adult its much easier to cope with all the above, but our young adults are expected to cope with the strains and stresses of growing up at the same time as sitting what for some of them is one of the most important exams of their life.  Considering competition is so tough nowadays for college places, it is no wonder that some of our kids are finding it really tough…  I’m finding it tough and I’m just a parent watching this.  But I will continue to ask:  have you studied, are you studying, are you finished, until the very last exam is over and he is actually finished…..  That’s my job!

From three little words to a cosy Threesome!
When my mother first told me that it was suggested on a website that teenagers should try a threesome to spice up their sex life, you could have knocked me over with a feather.  At first I thought she was having a laugh and my mother is a septuagenarian so it’s not the kind of joke she’d normally pull.  When I realized she was serious, the next thought that came to mind was whoever was responsible for posting that obviously has no teenagers…  But then I decided that the best thing to do was check out the content and context of the actual article for myself.  I found it on, but instead of the slant I expected to find, I found instead a website offering advice and wisdom to teenagers that they might not get at home.  The way in which the articles are structured and written far from being an encouragement to teenagers offers in an intelligent and perceptive manner all kinds of advice for those teenagers who are already sexually active.  Not what I was expecting considering the uproar in the media!!  As a parent of three teenagers, it is very much to the forefront of my mind that the time will come and probably very soon when my own children will become sexually active.  The fact I got them this far in life without that happening I feel is an achievement (that is as far as I know of course).  The world my children occupy as teenagers is very different to the one where I grew up; I have spoken about that before.  Their ease with technology and their constant access to it probably has a lot to do with the prevalence of misinformation out there among teenagers.  So as a parent it is my job to correct that misinformation and also to try and temper their curiosity with some sort of moral fortitude.  Almost everything is discussed in our house, including sex.  I am always available to them to discuss any issues they may be having.  If they don’t open the dialogue, then I do.  I find however, I get a lot of information from their friends when they visit our house and that is why I have a very open door policy at my home.  But for some parents it’s not easy to discuss sex with their offspring.  It is something that you nearly have to force yourself to do; to get over any embarrassment you may have. When I was growing up sex was certainly not discussed in my house, it wasn’t the done thing.  So what would we rather therefore, for our teens to get their information from other teens or to have access to a site like spunout where the information is given is a safe and measured way?  It is beyond contestation that our teens are engaging in sexual activity of all kinds at an earlier and earlier age.  So do us adults bury our heads in the sand and refuse to acknowledge this fact, or do we cope with their world in a meaningful and determined manner. I would rather do the latter while at the same time trying to stall that initial foray into the adult world of sexual activity.  But for those who have already started, the site dispels the myths, spells out the dangers and above all urges caution to teens who access them for information.  Now, isn’t it better they get it from somewhere they and us adults can trust right?  I would also say this site is full of information on other topics too, dealing with exam stress, dealing with loss, dealing with depression; in all, its better to look before you judge and in this case, I think this particular article has been blown out of proportion; either that or those interpreting it still live in the dark ages.

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