Permit It, Hug It Close, Control It

That is how Simon Kuper, columnist for the Financial Times characterizes the Dutch approach to sex and drugs.  His is the first European column to review my book, Not Under My Roof.  Kuper, who is British, spent part of his adolescence in the Netherlands, where coincidentally he lived across the street from my home when I was teenager.  This insider-outsider perspective make him particularly well situated to grasp cultural differences.  He explains how the Dutch approach is far from “permissive” as it is often viewed across the Atlantic.  Don’t miss this incisive commentary, sweetened by a good dose of humor.

Live Chat on Boston.com

On Thursday, I’m doing a live-chat on Boston.com from 3-4. The live-chat follows the publication of an article on my book, “Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens and the Culture of Sex” in the Boston Globe and on Boston.com.  This format allows readers to post questions and read the answers I give in real-time.  It should be an interesting discussion.

Thinking Allowed

For a perspective from overseas on “Not Under My Roof”, listen to an interview on BBC’s “Thinking Allowed” today.  It was very interesting to converse with Laurie Taylor and Chris Wilson, the show’s host and producer respectively, and get their take.

Trends in Adolescent Sexual Health

I have been following the media coverage of Not Under My Roof very closely.  I have been especially intrigued by two articles.  The first is Amanda Marcotte’s article on Slate  in which she points at several signs that “truly comprehensive sex education [is] an idea whose time has finally come.”  The second is Laura Stepp’s suggestion in the Huffington Post that the recent decline in teen births can at least in part be attributed to more and more parents addressing the topic of sexuality and relationships with their teenage children.

 


Glee Teens “Lose it” with Love

In a blog on Huffington Post, I weigh in on the controversy about the episode in which two Glee couples make love for the first time.  I think the Glee episode is important because it shows teenagers exercising self-determination, making conscious choices and having sex in the context of romantic, but not necessarily life-long, love.  Readers share experiences and viewpoints.  A mother of younger children writes:

I’d tell my girls that they should wait at least until they are emotionally intimate with someone before they become sexual, and why that feels better to many women. No one told me that. I just got the vague lesson “good girls don’t” from my parents. As the writer says, that’s not the message that was needed. I needed to be told that it works better to be in love, and why. I would have felt better about waiting.

In response to one reader’s comment that chastity until marriage works best, another writes:

I think your forgetting one thing. Waiting for Sex after marriage is OK I guess, but lets not forget … Gays could not get married. [D]oes that mean they should never have sex their entire life …….wai­ting on this regressive society to come to fruition? I think not. That would mean millions of people would never know the wonderful experience of sharing physical love with the special one their hart has melted for.

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Sex education, queer youth, and sexual autonomy

The first post-publication reviews of Not Under My Roof have come in.  A review by Doug Ireland in Gay City News (Nov. 9) places the book in the context of the post-sexual revolution battles over sex education in the United States.  Ireland recounts the intensely hostile political organizing in response to Judith Levine’s 2002 book Harmful to Minors (University of Minnesota Press) and then US Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders’ thoughts on sex education.   The result of these battles has, he points out, been “particularly nefarious for queer youth” whose needs for protection from harassment are rarely met within high-school hallways and classrooms.

In this context, it’s courageous of Amy Schalet, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus, to offer up her fascinating and wise new book, “Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens, and the Culture of Sex”….  Based on a blending of meticulous scholarly research and extensive interviews with both Dutch and American parents and teenagers — mostly tenth-graders — Schalet’s book, although not as deliberately incendiary as Levine’s a decade earlier, nonetheless amounts to a ringing rationale for the sexual autonomy of adolescents.

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The New ABCD’s of Talking About Sex

Check out my oped, “The New ABCD’s of Talking About Sex with Teenagers,” published today at the Huffington Post.  In it, I address the following question:

How can American parents and other adults talk with teenagers about sexuality and romantic relationships in more positive terms, while bolstering young people’s capacities to protect themselves against potential negative experiences and consequences?

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Interview on the Takeaway

Today is Not Under My Roof’s official publication date and I was interviewed on NPR’s “The Takeaway” this morning.  Here you can listen to my conversation with hosts John Celeste Headlee and John Hockenberry and to the story of one family, dealing with sex and teenagers.

The Sleepover Dilemma

Wondering where Canadians stand on matters of teen sexuality, gender and parenting?  Read Macleans Magazine’s “The Sleepover Dilemma.”  Journalist Anne Kingston interviewed me about my book, Not Under My Roof, talked with parents, youths and other experts, and captures the many complexities of the topic.  She quotes me saying about “the Dutch model”:

It provides a context that “not only allows young people to develop their emergent sexuality and selves within a larger social fabric but it also gives parents the opportunity to provide guidance and exercise oversight.”

Kingston also interviewed Karen Rayne, an Austin Texas-based psychologist, who provides consulting to parents of adolescents.  Rayne makes some great points:

Adolescents, like all human beings, have “skin hunger,” the need to be touched and to touch, Rayne says. “But many teenagers have only one model for this: intercourse. So having conversations about sensuality rather than sex can go a long way.” And parents want to forge close bonds with their teenagers, and to have influence over them, she believes. “But they do all of these controlling things that put them at odds with their teenager rather than drawing them in closer.”

One of the young people interviewed shows what an impact good parent-teen communication about sex and relationships can have:

Rockman’s daughter, Casey Fulford, says she’s fortunate to have had open rapport about sex with her parents. “I loved that I could tell my mom anything,” the 20-year-old, third-year Queen’s University student says. “I’m meeting people now, some of them never have talked about sex with their parents—that they’re even having sex. Which is weird because it means they can’t go to them with questions.” The big lesson her mother imparted was, “You can always say no,” Fulford says. “And that was even before I started having sex. And that really benefited me. I know a lot of girls have gotten into situations they wished they hadn’t, but I’ve never done anything I’ve regretted.”

To read more

 

Stay tuned for the Canadian Perspective

There has been a lot of interest coming from journalists in Canada in the topic of adolescent sexuality, parenting and culture, and in the public discussion sparked by my research and oped in last July’s New York Times.  This week Canada’s Macleans Magazine — which, I am told, is like a cross between the New Yorker and Time Magazine — will be running a story on the topic, for which I was recently interviewed.  I have several radio interviews scheduled over the next month with Canadian hosts, and I look forward to learning more about the Canadian perspective.

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Amy Schalet is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Read More...