Review: “The Real Truth About Teens & Sex” by Sabrina Weill
In preparation for the Life Skills class I am teaching at the local Waldorf high school here, I ploughed through a variety of books for both parents and teens on topics such as sex, gender, suicide, and drugs. Good resources are, in my estimation, few and far between – either they are so "street wise" and "way cool" that they assume that every teen is experimenting with drugs and sex or they are moralistic and damning.
I took this book out from my local library with great trepidation – the fact that its author was the editor of Seventeen magazine did not endear it to me. I take great exception to the consumerist and thin-biased approach of this magazine (and I don’t care how many articles they run saying being healthy is what’s important – their models are all thin and beautiful!).
So I was pleasantly surprised by this book! Despite the tabloid-style little headers sprinkled throughout ("Teens Tell the Truth!"), the tone and message of this friendly book really is very healthy and affirming. Abstinence – both from drugs and sex – is presented not just as an impossible ideal favored by naive parents, but as a serious choice to be presented to teens in the larger context of family discussions about sexuality.
And this is where this book really excels: Sabrina Weill’s main reason for writing this book is to help parents think through the issues, plan conversations with their teenage children and face possible scenarios. The book is directed at parents – another strength in my opinion because then you can choose what information and approach you feel will best meet your son or daughter’s needs.
In terms of Weill’s main message she feels should be given to teens, it’s "Have a Plan" – I think this is excellent advice and it leaves each parent and teen free to create that plan in the context of their own morals and judgments. It is also a large part of the message I am sharing with the teens I am working with – and it is something that they respect. They want and ask for information – and for the advice of a trusted adult – but they also want to feel that they have the power to create their own choices. I think "Have a Plan" advice answers those needs very well, whether the Plan involves saying no or getting contraception.