Relationships:Teenager in Love' (cont.)

Event_Moderator Is there an appropriate age for adolescents to become sexually active?

Kimberly_Kirberger That's not for me to say. I can't--I personally don't think so but it's not something I feel qualified to discuss.

Event_Moderator What do you recommend to the parents of a teenager who is sexually active?

Kimberly_Kirberger I do believe that we do have to accept as parents that whether we like it or not, once our child is a teenager, we lose a lot of the control that we used to have. If you know that your child is sexually active, then you want to be sure that they're being as safe as possible. There's no way that you can actually stop that from happening. You can teach them about birth control and about safety from STD's and things like that. The biggest and hardest lesson for parents of teenagers is accepting that there are things that we can't control and thereby, once we accept that, we can at least do the things that are helpful rather than fight a losing battle.

Event_Moderator My parents don't seem to respect the seriousness of my relationships. What can I do to make them see me as a person with the same feelings as them?

Kimberly_Kirberger This is the area that I am really qualified to talk about. That's really sad and I think that's a very real problem. In my book on teen love, it's something I write about a lot that I do think that teenage love is real and that those feelings are very real. I think the best thing to do is calmly sit down with your parents. Don't talk to them--don't be yelling at them but let them know you want to have a serious conversation. Tell them that you feel hurt that they're not acknowledging and respecting your feelings. And to please try to remember what it was like when they were teenagers.

Event_Moderator When I was 15, my parents punished me for something I did by prohibiting me from speaking to my girlfriend for a week. Is that right?

Kimberly_Kirberger I don't agree with it. I don't believe in grounding and punishment that lasts longer--unless it's a serious thing that she did--I think the punishment should not last for more than a day. To take away your communication with your friend is probably just like taking away food. Teenagers need their friends.

Event_Moderator What can a parent do when a child is "dumped" by their boyfriend or girlfriend?

Kimberly_Kirberger Offer a lot of compassion. Let your child know that you're there for them and anything that you can do you will. Also remind them of times in their life when they were hurting and they got over it. Remind them that they have the strength and the ability to recover. Other than that, just be very kind and understanding that it's really a very hard time for them and it feels to them exactly like it would feel if your husband/wife left you.

Event_Moderator My 17-year-old son never seems to go out with the same girl twice. Should I be concerned?

Kimberly_Kirberger Yeah. I mean, I would say that's something you might want to gently...you might want to wonder if he has fear about closeness. Maybe he's just picky. If it were my son, I might just want to ask questions about whether he's afraid of getting more involved with somebody, just question those kind of things.

Event_Moderator My daughter who is 16 has been dating the same boy for almost a year now. Is that too long for such a young age?

Kimberly_Kirberger No. I don't think so.

Event_Moderator How can a teenage girl improve her self-image?

Kimberly_Kirberger This is something that I deal with a lot in the book on teen love. There are exercises that she can do. Self love is something we have to consciously decide that we're going to work on. It isn't a given. There are actual things that you can do every day to improve your self worth and your self esteem. I go into that in great detail in the book.

Event_Moderator What are some of the exercises she can do to improve her self-image?

Kimberly_Kirberger Make a list of 20 things that you can do that make you happy, that make you feel good about yourself. Example; take a hot bath. Go for a long walk. Do exercises. Eat a salad. Then every day, go to that list and try to do--start with doing one thing from that list every day and then move up to 2 things from that list every day. It requires a conscious effort.

Event_Moderator What if they are resistant to that?

Kimberly_Kirberger They won't be resistant to it if you give them the right reasons for wanting to do it. Maybe the parent isn't the best person. For instance, we talk about it as the first step in having successful relationships (in book), thereby the motivation might start out being so that you can get a boy/girlfriend. In the end, the result will still be the same.

Event_Moderator Are girls ready for emotional relationships sooner than boys are?

Kimberly_Kirberger Yes. I believe so.

Event_Moderator Why is that?

Kimberly_Kirberger Girls mature a little faster and also I think because girls from a young age discuss their feelings and emotions with their friends and because talking about our emotions is the thing that helps us to grow and mature.

Event_Moderator What do you recommend to a teenager who is going through sexual identity problems?

Kimberly_Kirberger To be very kind to yourself, to understand that whatever your sexual identity turns out to be that the first step is to accept that and to love yourself. If you're really struggling with it, perhaps see if you can speak with a therapist, somebody who works with this kind of issue.

Event_Moderator How did you go about compiling the data for this book?