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How To Approach a Sexually Related Crisis

It’s part of every parent’s nightmare: a teen daughter gets pregnant, your teenage son causes a pregnancy, or your teen tells you that he or she is gay. What can you do? First, contain your own feelings. Listening rather than lashing out can make a vital difference, not only in the resolution of the sexuality related crisis, but also in your relationship with your teen, perhaps for years to come. If you need time to calm down, say so, and agree to discuss alternatives later. If and when you voice disapproval, it’s vital to reassure the teen that he or she is loved and that you simply disagree with this particular behavior. After listening to your teenager, discuss alternatives, medical choices and other factors as a family. Don’t rush a teen who feels he or she may be gay into therapy, unless your son or daughter feels distressed and indicates a need for therapy. Therapy will not change sexual orientation, but may help him or her to deal with feelings. The same is true of any other sexuality crisis. Prompt, professional help is crucial, but your love is most important.

Dr. Wibbelsman, M.D., is an award-winning author and former “Dear Doctor” columnist for Teen magazine. Chair of Adolescent Medicine for the Permanente Medical Group, Northern California, he is chief of the Teen-Age Clinic at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco, and an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School. Dr. Wibbelsman is the news anchor for a Bay Area television series, “Medicine in the Nineties”.

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