Love as portrayed in popular culture is often merely lust in disguise. How can you teach your teen the importance of knowing the difference?

The media and Hollywood add to the confusion between love and lust.

The media creates confusion  between love and lust. Parents need to start early to help teens learn to handle both in healthy ways.

When I see teens in love, I always think of Annie’s Song as sung by John Denver. To me these lines,in particular, capture the very essence of young love:

You fill up my senses like a night in a forest,
Like the mountains in springtime,
Like a walk in the rain, like a storm in the desert,
Like a sleepy blue ocean.
You fill up my senses, come fill me again.

Do you remember the feeling? I do. I was lucky and lived when it was a bit easier to be a teenager in love.  The new sexual freedoms, mainly brought about by better contraception and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, have been both a blessing and a curse.

The curse lies in on-going confusion about sex’s place in our lives.  If we as a society haven’t figured it out, why expect our youth to?

Confusing lust and love, particularly as promoted by the visual media has probably lead to our burgeoning divorce rate.  Sad and not a useful model for our youth, but it is what it is.  What can a parent do?  Here are my tips:


Tip one:  Know and abide by your rules of responsible sex. Live within the honor code you want your kids to live within.

Tip two:  Promote intercourse as adult behavior and subject to the following rules:

No exploitation; no hidden expectations;  planned, which means talked about openly between both parties;  never talked about publically;  protected; both parties accept responsibility for actions and outcomes.

Tip three: Helps to start early noting the pleasure found in sensual experiences – the taste of chocolate, the feel of silk, the delight of a scratched back. At the same time, one needs to talk about friendship, loyalty, shared interests, in other words the stuff of long-lasting relationships.

Tip four:  As your child grows and watches media stuff, be there to comment. The media has become another parent and not always a useful one, particularly when it comes to teaching about sex and relationships.  Wise parents will use the media as an important tool for teaching the rules of life.

I posted earlier about the lessons that could be learned from “Beauty and the Beast.”   If you haven’t read that post, now might be the time to do so.


Life is a struggle, relationships hard, raising good kids in today’s world harder than ever.  For more reading on this topic, try my book  ‘When Good Kids Have Sex‘ might also be relevant. 

Remember, if you like this post comment or  share. If you don’t like it, tell me why.  Your opinion, as well as your kindness, matters a great deal to me. 


For more reading try Parents Are People Too: An Emotional Fitness Training Program for ParentsP or When Good Kids Get you in A Gotcha War.


  1. I hope my son and daughter will listen and heed to these tips I am going to inculcate to them.


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