Not My Kid: What Parents Believe about the Sex Lives of Their Teenagers

Not My Kid: What Parents Believe about the Sex Lives of Their Teenagers

by Sinikka Elliott
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Teenagers have sex. While almost all parents understand that many teenagers are sexually active, there is a paradox in many parents’ thinking: they insist their own teen children are not sexual, but characterize their children’s peers as sexually-driven and hypersexual. Rather than accuse parents of being in denial, Sinikka Elliott teases out the

Overview

Teenagers have sex. While almost all parents understand that many teenagers are sexually active, there is a paradox in many parents’ thinking: they insist their own teen children are not sexual, but characterize their children’s peers as sexually-driven and hypersexual. Rather than accuse parents of being in denial, Sinikka Elliott teases out the complex dynamics behind this thinking, demonstrating that it is rooted in fears and anxieties about being a good parent, the risks of teen sexual activity, and teenagers’ future economic and social status. Parents—like most Americans—equate teen sexuality with heartache, disease, pregnancy, promiscuity, and deviance and want their teen children to be protected from these things.

Going beyond the hype and controversy, Elliott examines how a diverse group of American parents of teenagers understand teen sexuality, showing that, in contrast to the idea that parents are polarized in their beliefs, parents are confused, anxious, and ambivalent about teen sexual activity and how best to guide their own children’s sexuality. Framed with an eye to the debates about teenage abstinence and sex education in school, Elliott also links parents’ understandings to the contradictory messages and broad moral panic around child and teen sexuality. Ultimately, Elliott considers the social and cultural conditions that might make it easier for parents to talk with their teens about sex, calling for new ways of thinking and talking about teen sexuality that promote social justice and empower parents to embrace their children as fully sexual subjects.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Elliott (sociology, North Carolina State Univ.) examines parents’ attitudes toward their teenagers’ sexual identity and finds that parents equate sex with dangerous and risky behavior, which in turn colors their views of their teens’ maturity. She emphasizes how these views are closely tied to a broader cultural attitude that stems “in large part from a complex blend of free-market economics and restrictive sexual morality…characterized by a paradoxical mix of sexual obsessions and sexual shames.” Essentially, parents do not view their “biological children as sexual agents with sexual desires, even though they view adolescents in general as highly sexually motivated.”
VERDICT Elliott’s sampling of four schools from a liberal city in a conservative state is far too small to draw cultural conclusions from, but her book provides interesting background for reframing the conversation about adolescents and sexuality. Appropriate for undergraduate and graduate sociology collections.

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From the Publisher
"Not My Kid successfully portrays the paradox in how parents think about teenage sexuality in general versus how they think about their teenagers' sexuality specifically...highly informative."-D' Lane R. Compton, American Journal of Sociology

"Highly readable and accessibly written, Not My Kid is suitable for a wide range of audiences, including undergraduate students and general readers. Elliott makes extensive use of her informants’ own words and stories throughout the book, enhancing its appeal...Not My Kid promises to be an excellent resource in courses on human sexuality, gender, families, and social problems, as well as introductory sociology."-Sex Roles

"[This book] brings a mirror to our society, an image that we need to closely examine and see if we like what we see."-Sacramento Book Review

"[Elliott registers] the intense bonds that parents make to and with their children and the ways that sexuality—seen as always looming on the horizon—threatens to undo those bonds. The stories Elliott is able to tell are emotionally dense...[This book] is a powerful sociological argument about the workings of social inequality."-Jen Glibert,Social Forces

"The book's prescriptive argument in seeking social and cultural change is well made and convincing."-Choice

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814722596
Publisher:
New York University Press
Publication date:
08/13/2012
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
1,184,732
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 6.00(h) x 0.70(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

“Beautifully written, engaging, and insightful, Not My Kid advances our critical understanding of the complex tensions, contradictions, and paradoxes parents decipher as they make sense of the sex lives of their adolescent children. Sinikka Elliott invites readers to think critically about the revealing stories of parenting and family life that give life to this relevant book, and the emerging implications for the future of sex education programs and debates in an increasingly diverse and technological society.”-Gloria González-López,author of Erotic Journeys: Mexican Immigrants and Their Sex Lives

Not My Kid is an engaging and incisive contribution to contemporary debates over youth and sexuality education. As Elliott debunks prevailing myths about parents, kids, and ‘the talk’ about sex, a new picture emerges in which parents navigate and contribute to a broad social context characterized by ambivalence, anxiety, and persistent inequalities. Elliott helps readers appreciate the need for social policies that confront the culture of fear surrounding young people’s sexuality and bolster parents’ efforts to support their children’s development as sexual beings.”-Jessica Fields,author of Risky Lessons: Sex Education and Social Inequality

Meet the Author

Sinikka Elliott is Assistant Professor of Sociology at North Carolina State University.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >