Why Wait?
Teens Program Information

I know that you are smart, probably a lot of you are smarter than me. This isn't about that kind of brain development. But have you ever wondered why sometimes you make stupid decisions or do things that are like DUH? Do your parents say to you “What were you thinking?”

It's in the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is the last part of the brain to fully develop to it's adult maturation, sometimes this area is not completed until age 25. The frontal lobe is where the adult functions of planning, setting priorities, organizing thoughts, suppressing impulses, and weighing the consequences of actions take place. So the part of the brain that makes you responsible is not mature until early adulthood. The part of the brain that helps you decide to do your homework before watching TV is still under construction.

Sometimes teens use the part of the brain called the amygdala, perhaps because it's development is completed before the frontal lobe, in making decisions. The amygdala is an area of the brain used for emotional reactions. This may cause you to lead with your gut instead of your head when you have to make a choice. So, when your Mom says “What were you thinking?” the answer is that you weren't thinking, you were feeling, going with your gut emotions.

 

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You can't fully appreciate the relationship between cause and effect without an adult brain. The teen brain is different than the adult brain. Research has indicated that during emotionally cool conditions, low level of emotional intensity, the teen brain may use the thinking part, but during emotionally hot conditions the teen brain may go with feelings. The adult uses the frontal lobe to override the amygdala, something teens may not be able to do until the frontal lobe is fully developed. So in the heat of the moment, when your at a party and that really cute guy is pressuring you to hook up, you may not be able to think things through, and so you go with your gut. So don't forget to have a plan ahead of time. Think things through when you are not under pressure, because if you go with the heat of the moment, you may not make the best choice.

During the teen years the neurons in your brain become wired together by two forces; genetics and experience. What you do as a teen effects your brain development, for better or for worse, and can direct your path for life.

Think of it this way, have you ever cut a path through the woods? The first time you use the pathway you have to cut through the brush, breaking branches and stomping down the high grass to clear the path. But the more you use the path the easier it becomes, after a while the grass doesn’t grow, and the tree branches don’t grow back and there becomes a permanent rut in the ground from the repeated usage. The neural connections in your brain work the same way. This is why practicing makes perfect. The more you practice something, the stronger the neural pathways in the brain become. Life experiences help build the brains neural connections for positive or negative behaviors. So things that you do repeatedly become hard wired into your brain, whether good or bad. You can build neural connections in your brain that will help you control your emotions and make wise choices. Life experiences and practice help shape your brain.

So if you think you can judge when you're ready for sex, know that the judgment making part of the brain is not fully functioning yet and talk it over with a trusted adult with a functioning frontal lobe.

This is why you should Wait for Sex