We in the western world think of sexuality and intimacy as the same thing. But, the truth is intimacy is a deeper and richer form of life than mere sexuality can ever be. When we teach our teens about the mechanics of sexuality. We teach them about the physicality of sexual intercourse. If this is all we teach them we fail to explain how the mind, heart, mutual respect, and emotions are also involved. We then trap them into a world where sexuality is just a pleasurable act with not real satisfaction beyond the physical. Yet sexuality when coupled with a commitment of heart mind and soul causes a deep, lasting and heart felt connection nothing else can match.
Whether we like it or not our society especially in America is based on sex. It is how we sell products, show our success, and share our lives. Whether we are talking about selling toothpaste, what it means to be a successful man, or what we read in newspapers or magazines we are talking about being attractive and drawing the attention of the opposite sex. I watched a special on ABC News several years ago where a three-year-old said she wanted to be Jasmine and not Belle for Halloween because Jasmine was sexy. I am pointing this out because we need to recognize our culture pushes the physicality of sexuality to our children whether we like it or not. It is our job as parents to ensure they get the whole picture and not the part they are learning about everywhere else.
This is especially important because as our teens enter into adulthood they will face a phase called intimacy vs. isolation. If they mistake to concept of intimacy for sexuality. This could lead them to a very sad and isolative state. Which may have them separating from others and lacking the skills to create intimate relationships which are not based on sexuality.
Believe it or not teaching intimacy actually starts with cuddling as a child. I define being intimate as having a mutually respectful relationship with another person based on a mental, emotional and physical closeness that lies beyond the traps of sexuality. This kind of relationships is built by sharing your intimate thoughts and feelings with another person. Here are some things to think about:
- Intimate relationships are first built on mutual respect. Where each person loves, supports, and encourages the humanity of the other.
- Intimate relationships vary depending on the link between people. The intimacy you have with your best friend will look very different from the intimacy you have with your siblings. Which is very different from the kind of intimacy you have with your spouse. Yet, they are all intimate kinds of relationships.
- Though sharing thoughts, feelings, and physical closeness most intimate relationships do not include sexuality. I think this may be where many kids get confused between being homosexual and being close. Just because two males or two females are close does not mean they are sexual. I can be emotionally and intellectually on the same page with a person of the same or opposite gender and not be involved in a sexual way whatsoever.
- Sexuality when combined with intimacy create the best form of a relationship which includes the physicality of sexual intercourse.
- Use your journal to write about your own feelings of sexuality versus intimacy. We can not teach what we do not understand for ourselves. Get a good grasp on what you feel. If you need to talk to someone else about this I have two great counselors, I can refer you to one from each gender.
- Once you have a true handle on your own thoughts and feelings. Have a talk with your teen about intimacy. I guarantee they will think you mean sex. Surprise them. Talk to them about the intimacy you feel is there or missing in the relationship between the two of you.
Use your journal to log how you feel about this whole topic. Keep your thoughts about the intimate relationships you have, your teen has and how you want those all to look and feel. When you are feeling more comfortable you can then move into talking to your teen about how sexuality and intimacy fit together in a whole and happy adult relationship. Journal extensively about what that looks like to you and when you are sure you can communicate it clearly then have that talk with your teen.
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