TALKING love and sex with teenagers can be an awkward conversation for some parents, but one Hervey Bay mum has found a way to make the tough chat palatable.
Carmel Donnelly, a mother of five and youth worker at Hervey Bay City parish, decided other Catholics, not her qualified self, needed to shed light on the Church’s teachings on marriage and sexuality.
Mrs Donnelly invited two guests from Brisbane-based ministry, Real Talk Australia, to speak to her young people about love and relationships.
“One of the things young people are wondering is, ‘How do we know we’re in love’,” she said.
“A lot are not sure.”
While Mrs Donnelly could have answered the question, she said young people responded better to a similar message if shared by different people, especially someone who wasn’t their parent.
“Sometimes young people don’t listen to the significant adult in their life,” she said.
“Someone else’s experiences might sound more real to them.”
Parents who are inexperienced in speaking about relationships to teenagers could also take comfort in knowing there are ministries who can provide solid teaching to young people.
“Parents might think the best way is to read a book about it, watch a TV show, or to talk about it later,” Mrs Donnelly said.
“Teenagers can also put up defences but that’s just the psyche of a teenager.
“All the chemicals in their body make it difficult for them to make sound and informed decisions, so they need clear opportunities to help them make better life choices.
“We try to connect our own ministry to the conversations outside our normal area.”
Mrs Donnelly said the two Real Talk Australia presenters taught love was “mutual and a self-sacrifice” and demanded respect “totally and wholly” from both sides.
She said the message was timely, given the Year 12 formal was around the corner, and students needed to be challenged about knowing what was appropriate.
“It’s really great for our young people to hear that they’re not alone, that there are other people who have the same beliefs as they do,” she said.
The youth group has previously heard from married couples talking on the sanctity of marriage, and will hear from Brisbane vocations director Fr Morgan Batt next month.
Mrs Donnelly said the majority of young Catholics in Hervey Bay took their faith seriously and were active members of the parish.