Katy Perry made it into a catchy pop song; but apparently the reality is not as uncommon as one might think.
It is not only the girls at Oprah’s Johannesburg Academy who are tempted to try it. A friend (she chooses to remain anonymous), gained a little insight while she was filling in as a teacher at a local high school in mid-2008. She walked into the communal showers and overheard two girls:
Grade 9 pupil:‘You realise that if I get drunk, I’m going to try and kiss you.’
Grade 8 pupil:‘Cool!’
These girls are entering a different world: encouraged to taste the ‘cherry Chapstick’ on their friend’s lips. Is it just a fad, or are the questions they’re asking for real? After all, the teen years are the time when sexual orientation may become more obvious.
For parents, the key seems to be in listening, but not through the filters of adulthood. ‘When we listen we like to make assumptions…we do not allow (the kids) to speak a little longer’, says Marilyn Matroos from The Parent Centre in Cape Town.
Same sex experimentation does not necessarily mean the teenager is a lesbian, just as heterosexual experimentation doesn’t mean she is not gay.
‘We label them, not realizing that they are still very sensitive whilst on this their journey of self-discovery. We do not give them space by just being there and guiding them,’ says Marilyn. ‘If we would only listen.’
Marilyn’s colleague Fouzia Ryklief recommends that parents try not to pass judgement: ‘Generally parents could be quite shocked to hear (this) and may close off all communication by preaching and passing a judgment. While it is okay to express your concern as a parent, do so in a constructive way… help the child explore his or her doubts. Why does he or she feel or think in this way? Information giving is also important, for example what is happening to their bodies when they enter puberty. Finally, encourage your child to have friendships with both sexes.’
What both counselors point out is that the teen’s self-esteem is still extremely sensitive at this stage, and that you as a parent should do everything to build up their sense of self-worth and identity. ‘Discuss without accusing, judging or blaming the child’, says Fouzia.
‘When our children do not share their concerns with us, when they begin to be secretive about their friendships, coming and goings etcetera, it is then that we need to worry,’ says Fouzia.Do you think it’s natural for teens to experiment with their own sex?