Teen Sexuality: Make Up Your Own Mind

Reviewed Oct 13, 2016

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Summary

  • We are influenced by the cultures we’re part of.
  • Make up your own mind about the important things in life.

We live in a society made up of people from many different cultures and traditions. Cultures are the combined wisdom and opinion of groups. They tell us what the group believes. They also tell us what is right and what is wrong for that group. If we want to be part of a culture, then it's good to consider that culture's norms.  We’re influenced by cultures around us every time we make a choice.

Cultural influence

Whether we are aware of it or not, we think about cultural opinions when we decide whether to have sex as a teen or wait until we’re older. We consider it when we take precautions to prevent pregnancy or not, and whether we decide to end a pregnancy or give birth to a baby and raise it on our own.  

Like most young people, you probably have many people telling you what to do. You’re influenced by what you see on television and what you hear in music. You pick up cues on how to live from the news and things you read. Teachers and religious leaders may tell you more directly what choices to make. Your friends are quick to let you know what is acceptable or not if you want to remain in their world. Our parents may have their own set of beliefs, reflecting their own background. 

All of these groups have their ways of going about life. Some have babies early. Some have babies late. Parents in some cultures insist their daughters wait until they are married and able to take care of a baby on their own. Others are willing to step in and share in child care, if a daughter is married or not. Most people would say there’s no right and wrong way to live, as long as it works for the culture you live in.

Cultures nurture us but also tell us what to do. Think about it. You like to fit in, so maybe you choose clothes others will like. You make big choices the same way, depending on which group you want to please. Sometimes we get conflicting messages from cultures, and that makes it hard to know if we’re making good decisions or not.

We may be told to stay in school, but also encouraged to have a baby at age 15. We’re bombarded with media telling us there’s nothing wrong with having sex, but our parents may forbid it. Your teachers may say it’s healthier for girls to wait until they are in their twenties to have a child, but your friends warn you not to waste any time if you want to hold on to your relationship with your boyfriend.

If you’re in school, your parents may want you to finish so you can get a good job. But, you look at all your pregnant friends and think how much fun it would be to raise babies together. You will have to decide if you want to risk missing out on an education. It takes a lot of money to raise a child. Will you have your parents’ support?   

Like most young people, you have dreams of the future. Does a baby fit into those dreams? Only you know whether or not you’re willing to give up, or wait for, some of those dreams to care for a child for almost 20 years.  

How do you decide what’s best for you?

Sometimes you have to make hard choices, because what you do or don’t do may affect your life and the lives of others for many years to come.

Follow these steps to decide what you believe in advance:

  • Look around and see what cultures you are part of.
  • Ask people you respect for their opinions.
  • Make your own decisions and try to stick to them.
  • Plan ahead, knowing how you will handle situations before they come up.

If you decide you don’t want to risk sexual activity that could lead to pregnancy, don’t put yourself in situations that will be hard to get out of. If you want to have sex but prevent pregnancy, discuss your decision with your partner and make sure you use condoms or other precautions, every time. 

These are decisions only you can make. Try not to be swayed by the cultures around you. Make up your own mind, because you will be the one living with your decision. 

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Scott Haltzman, MD, psychiatrist, author, and Medical Director of NRI Community Services, Woonsocket, RI; Barbara Rudell, RN, NP, CNM, Sutter Davis Hospital, Davis, CA
Reviewed by Elizabeth Taylor, Peer & Family Support Specialist, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • We are influenced by the cultures we’re part of.
  • Make up your own mind about the important things in life.

We live in a society made up of people from many different cultures and traditions. Cultures are the combined wisdom and opinion of groups. They tell us what the group believes. They also tell us what is right and what is wrong for that group. If we want to be part of a culture, then it's good to consider that culture's norms.  We’re influenced by cultures around us every time we make a choice.

Cultural influence

Whether we are aware of it or not, we think about cultural opinions when we decide whether to have sex as a teen or wait until we’re older. We consider it when we take precautions to prevent pregnancy or not, and whether we decide to end a pregnancy or give birth to a baby and raise it on our own.  

Like most young people, you probably have many people telling you what to do. You’re influenced by what you see on television and what you hear in music. You pick up cues on how to live from the news and things you read. Teachers and religious leaders may tell you more directly what choices to make. Your friends are quick to let you know what is acceptable or not if you want to remain in their world. Our parents may have their own set of beliefs, reflecting their own background. 

All of these groups have their ways of going about life. Some have babies early. Some have babies late. Parents in some cultures insist their daughters wait until they are married and able to take care of a baby on their own. Others are willing to step in and share in child care, if a daughter is married or not. Most people would say there’s no right and wrong way to live, as long as it works for the culture you live in.

Cultures nurture us but also tell us what to do. Think about it. You like to fit in, so maybe you choose clothes others will like. You make big choices the same way, depending on which group you want to please. Sometimes we get conflicting messages from cultures, and that makes it hard to know if we’re making good decisions or not.

We may be told to stay in school, but also encouraged to have a baby at age 15. We’re bombarded with media telling us there’s nothing wrong with having sex, but our parents may forbid it. Your teachers may say it’s healthier for girls to wait until they are in their twenties to have a child, but your friends warn you not to waste any time if you want to hold on to your relationship with your boyfriend.

If you’re in school, your parents may want you to finish so you can get a good job. But, you look at all your pregnant friends and think how much fun it would be to raise babies together. You will have to decide if you want to risk missing out on an education. It takes a lot of money to raise a child. Will you have your parents’ support?   

Like most young people, you have dreams of the future. Does a baby fit into those dreams? Only you know whether or not you’re willing to give up, or wait for, some of those dreams to care for a child for almost 20 years.  

How do you decide what’s best for you?

Sometimes you have to make hard choices, because what you do or don’t do may affect your life and the lives of others for many years to come.

Follow these steps to decide what you believe in advance:

  • Look around and see what cultures you are part of.
  • Ask people you respect for their opinions.
  • Make your own decisions and try to stick to them.
  • Plan ahead, knowing how you will handle situations before they come up.

If you decide you don’t want to risk sexual activity that could lead to pregnancy, don’t put yourself in situations that will be hard to get out of. If you want to have sex but prevent pregnancy, discuss your decision with your partner and make sure you use condoms or other precautions, every time. 

These are decisions only you can make. Try not to be swayed by the cultures around you. Make up your own mind, because you will be the one living with your decision. 

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Scott Haltzman, MD, psychiatrist, author, and Medical Director of NRI Community Services, Woonsocket, RI; Barbara Rudell, RN, NP, CNM, Sutter Davis Hospital, Davis, CA
Reviewed by Elizabeth Taylor, Peer & Family Support Specialist, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • We are influenced by the cultures we’re part of.
  • Make up your own mind about the important things in life.

We live in a society made up of people from many different cultures and traditions. Cultures are the combined wisdom and opinion of groups. They tell us what the group believes. They also tell us what is right and what is wrong for that group. If we want to be part of a culture, then it's good to consider that culture's norms.  We’re influenced by cultures around us every time we make a choice.

Cultural influence

Whether we are aware of it or not, we think about cultural opinions when we decide whether to have sex as a teen or wait until we’re older. We consider it when we take precautions to prevent pregnancy or not, and whether we decide to end a pregnancy or give birth to a baby and raise it on our own.  

Like most young people, you probably have many people telling you what to do. You’re influenced by what you see on television and what you hear in music. You pick up cues on how to live from the news and things you read. Teachers and religious leaders may tell you more directly what choices to make. Your friends are quick to let you know what is acceptable or not if you want to remain in their world. Our parents may have their own set of beliefs, reflecting their own background. 

All of these groups have their ways of going about life. Some have babies early. Some have babies late. Parents in some cultures insist their daughters wait until they are married and able to take care of a baby on their own. Others are willing to step in and share in child care, if a daughter is married or not. Most people would say there’s no right and wrong way to live, as long as it works for the culture you live in.

Cultures nurture us but also tell us what to do. Think about it. You like to fit in, so maybe you choose clothes others will like. You make big choices the same way, depending on which group you want to please. Sometimes we get conflicting messages from cultures, and that makes it hard to know if we’re making good decisions or not.

We may be told to stay in school, but also encouraged to have a baby at age 15. We’re bombarded with media telling us there’s nothing wrong with having sex, but our parents may forbid it. Your teachers may say it’s healthier for girls to wait until they are in their twenties to have a child, but your friends warn you not to waste any time if you want to hold on to your relationship with your boyfriend.

If you’re in school, your parents may want you to finish so you can get a good job. But, you look at all your pregnant friends and think how much fun it would be to raise babies together. You will have to decide if you want to risk missing out on an education. It takes a lot of money to raise a child. Will you have your parents’ support?   

Like most young people, you have dreams of the future. Does a baby fit into those dreams? Only you know whether or not you’re willing to give up, or wait for, some of those dreams to care for a child for almost 20 years.  

How do you decide what’s best for you?

Sometimes you have to make hard choices, because what you do or don’t do may affect your life and the lives of others for many years to come.

Follow these steps to decide what you believe in advance:

  • Look around and see what cultures you are part of.
  • Ask people you respect for their opinions.
  • Make your own decisions and try to stick to them.
  • Plan ahead, knowing how you will handle situations before they come up.

If you decide you don’t want to risk sexual activity that could lead to pregnancy, don’t put yourself in situations that will be hard to get out of. If you want to have sex but prevent pregnancy, discuss your decision with your partner and make sure you use condoms or other precautions, every time. 

These are decisions only you can make. Try not to be swayed by the cultures around you. Make up your own mind, because you will be the one living with your decision. 

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Scott Haltzman, MD, psychiatrist, author, and Medical Director of NRI Community Services, Woonsocket, RI; Barbara Rudell, RN, NP, CNM, Sutter Davis Hospital, Davis, CA
Reviewed by Elizabeth Taylor, Peer & Family Support Specialist, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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