"My mother talks about the three-month rule," she says, "about how you aren't supposed to let a boy kiss you for three months." Jasmine throws up her hands in exasperation."At my school, we don't even go out with a boy that long." What Jasmine wants from her mother is a real conversation about the nitty-gritty of what to do when a boy gets you alone. It's like they see all these nasty things on TV, and that's how they are learning what to do.According to the dozens of teens interviewed for this story, if you want to get through to your child, you need to know what they're really dealing with.
But while this might be part of the natural ebb and flow of parent–child relationships, these days parents face more challenges than ever in connecting with their kids.
Many teens live a secret life, communicating in a cryptic language of acronyms and emoticons, using devices they shove in their pockets.
They live online on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter, with instant messages and video chats and Internet searches that all disappear with a click of their mouse the minute they hear your footsteps down the hall.
But if technology has widened the divide between adults and children, then we need to find new ways to steer them through the abyss. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, one in two African-American girls will become pregnant before she reaches 20, nearly twice the national average.
"Parents are talking to their kids about sex like it's still the 1980's," says Johanna Wright, a health educator and girl's basketball coach at a New Jersey middle school.