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Teenaged slut – or starving for love?

In Community and Relationship, Love, Sex and Sexuality by Living Now0 Comments

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By Amrita Hobbs….

 

Amrita Hobbs left her body on 2nd December, 2014, at 2.20pm, in Mullumbimby, NSW. The below article was accepted by me for publication almost four years ago, but the time didn’t ever seem right. I am pleased to be able to publish it now in memory of an amazing woman who worked for the development of all of us, and teens in particular. Vale Amrita Hobbs [Ed.]

 

Many of our children are sexually active by the age of 12. They are taking risks that they are inadequately prepared to deal with. On so many levels they are putting their well-being and sometimes their lives on the line.

Wouldn’t it be great if our kids grew up enlightened? Free of the karmic wheel, they have integrated and freed themselves from the past; they have been nourished, nurtured and touched enough; allowed to learn through play, they have maintained whole body awareness and a truly wondrous connection to nature.

Developing naturally there has been no pressure to over-achieve, over-consume, over-eat or become unhealthily competitive. They care for the planet, themselves and everyone around them. They are amazing – free, creative and intelligent. These children have an intrinsic and intuitive understanding of themselves and their gender identity, and they are sexually healthy beings. They know who they are, powerfully working with magic in their lives, and are connected with their rightful place in the world.

Imagine what that would be like. Imagine it can be like that for coming generations. Your thoughts are powerful – they create your world.

My vision is to do what I can to co-create a new world, specifically around caring community – with adults consciously bringing children up in the village-like way, ensuring no harm comes to them. Instead of nuclear families, we have ‘new clear’ groups of men and women, mentoring young people so they have guidance from outside the family.

I would like to see ritual, ceremony, Initiation and rites of passage integrated back into our lives. I am especially passionate about celebrating and marking the transition from boy to man and girl to woman. Changes are usually unconscious for children during this transition – they just happen! When there is age-appropriate guidance and mentoring about what is going on – what is normal – children can confidently and naturally unfold.

In Why Gender Matters, Leonard Sax acknowledges that, “More than in any other realm (transition to adulthood) is where our society lets kids down. We offer our children no guidance about what it means to be an adult woman or an adult man. No other culture has ever abandoned young people making the transition to a gendered adulthood as completely as the twenty-first century post-industrial societies of North America, Western Europe and Australia/New Zealand.”

Think back! How were you guided into puberty? Who taught you about your physical, mental, spiritual changes and about your expanding role in the community? Who explained to you about your emerging sexuality – how to handle your feelings, take care of yourself sexually in an enlightened way? Was the history of sexuality in your culture explained, so that you were aware how sexual norms and values came into being, so that you could make your own informed choices?

We have a vitally important role as mature adults and elders. It is our sacred responsibility to adequately prepare children for healthy teenage-hood and adulthood. When children are guided effectively, they are given tools for dealing with life – change, let downs, safe risk taking and boundary setting. They then have a foundation for healthy attitudes, adult relationships and the possibility of love, joy, commitment and a successful life.

If you received enlightened or even adequate guidance, you are one of the lucky ones. For many like me, it was a case of trial and error – mainly error. Desperate for love at that age, how was I to know that if a boy paid attention to me, he was probably more interested in sex than in me, the shy, scared girl I was. I learned by default that as a female it was my place to please the guy, sexually.There was no one, and I mean no one, who said anything about the growing up stuff that was very useful. What I was offered at school was crumbs of nothing that landed in my head and nowhere else that was practically useful.

When moving into puberty, as a society we ask young people not to act on their strong biological urge to reproduce. We ask them to suppress themselves sexually – in spite of tremendous peer pressure to prove themselves and fit in, and despite that we are over-sexualising them from a very young age. By not talking about these we ask them to go on acting like children. A big ask? We often don’t realise how harmful the media is or the influence of early sexualisation of children. Without adequate communication, connectedness in relationship or caring community how can we blame young people for becoming inappropriately sexually active?

“During the years in which we are becoming sexually potent, whether we are a male or a female, the turbulence is particularly strong. Because we are becoming strong we are becoming powerful in ways that we can’t imagine until they’ve already happened. As a teenager it is important to discover what it is to be powerful without being harmful.” [Julie Henderson author of The Lover Within]

When working with a group of fathers of daughters, one man bravely told the group that, at the appropriate time, he sat down with his daughter and told her about boys – from his own experience and what he knew about other boys – the disrespectful jokes and conversations about girls, about using girls for sexual gratification, the need to ‘score’ – not giving a damn. He gave her the picture. Her friend was not so lucky. With busy, distracted and unavailable parents, starving for love, she became sexually promiscuous. When her parents found out, they called her a slut!!! What a difference!

When ‘we’ don’t show up, in right relationship to our young, we see the consequences. Many of our children are sexually active by the age of 12. They are taking risks that they are inadequately prepared to deal with. On so many levels they are putting their well-being and sometimes their lives on the line.

What about the ongoing battle of the sexes? What would it be like if we were enlightened about male and female differences? Is it possible to create happier, more satisfying and harmonious relationships if we understood and celebrated them?

Many of us don’t get that there is a huge amount of confusion caused through misunderstanding male and femaleness. We don’t realise how this undermines us personally, or how our relationships are affected.

For centuries our ancestors lived well-defined roles. Males and females are wired up differently. Their brains developed appropriate functions for the jobs they had to do.We still have brains that are programmed for these tasks.If we can understand this and work together, we can achieve a whole new way of relating across the genders. Because our roles are no longer so clearly defined, many of us are struggling to find ways to relate that are workable. The rules have changed in the last 30 years. We are seeking ways to redefine and reinvent ourselves – to find new ways of relating, so that we reach our potential and share our love and gifts with each other.

“For men and women who live in modern civilized countries, these old rules have been thrown out – and sometimes chaos, confusion and unhappiness have been left in their place. For the first time ever we are looking to our partners for love, passion and personal fulfillment because basic survival is no longer critical.” [Adapted from Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps by Alan and Barbara Pease.]

While growing up and for many adults the issues surrounding gender – maleness and femaleness and sexuality – are complex. Many of us have not truly considered what it means to be an adult, and what our responsibilities are. Instead, we act like children, grow old and end up in old people’s homes. The enlightened way is to become wise elders, available to support and encourage those growing up behind us.

My prayer is that this generation is the one that swings the pendulum back into balance and harmony for the good of us all.

What can you do?

Dr Michael Resnick, from the Adolescent Health Program at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, conducted a study across the United States and found that ‘young people who have a feeling of connectedness with parents, family and school have lower levels of smoking, drinking, other drug use, suicidal thinking, risky sexual behaviour and exposure to violence.’

So first, be courageous! Build bridges in your relationship with your children – take risks. Have real conversations about sexuality and intimate relationships at the appropriate time and give young people safety to talk about what’s going on for them.

If you don’t have the answers or when you feel unsure, let them know, be prepared to be vulnerable.

Provide a safe place for personal issues to be aired and discussed. Even if challenging talk about:

  • Your own experiences of growing up, your relationships and sexuality.
  • The changes during adolescence; acknowledge their awakening sexuality and that of their peers; taking responsibility, clear communication, safe boundaries and how to create them, double standards and about the place of heart felt love in relationships.
  • Explore the importance of friendship, safety, self-love, respect and appreciation of the other, intimacy and sensuality in early relationships.
  • Making informed choices – and when in doubt, don’t’. Talk to someone before behaving rashly.
  • Be clear with them about your own values and let them know when they mature they will create their own.
  • Offer age-appropriate perspective on the media representation of teenage and adult sexuality.

Ask questions:

  • What are they experiencing at school or socially and how are they coping with what is going on
  • What are teenage relationships for? Why would they like to be dating? How is it to feel pressured by others?
  • What do they know about sexual preference? Find resources that you can give them.

If you are unable to, feel uncomfortable or don’t have the knowledge and skill yourself, find someone who does, and invite them into your family life – find appropriate mentors for your children.

 

Amrita Hobbs (1954-2014) facilitated programs in schools, exploring the changes for pre-teens and youth on all levels at this time in their journey. Privately she offered rites of passage workshops, in Australia and around the world. She wrote books for young people and developed ConnXionS Cards as a supportive communicating and connecting tool.

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