"Spring Awakening” is the story of sexual awakening in adolescents. The play, set in the 1880s, is running in a New York City theater. All the issues dealt with in the play are issues teenagers must deal with eventually. As the story unfolds, it becomes obvious that the church, school and parents have done a poor job in the education of this important piece of a child's development, and you see the unfortunate consequences that happen because of that. I don't think we do it much better almost 130 years later. Sex education. Though the topic makes many parents shudder, some of them along with a few churches and schools do offer information. Typically that includes the difference in male and female anatomy, how a child is conceived and how to prevent pregnancy before marriage. While all of that is necessary and important information, it is not enough. There is more that is involved — and seldom talked about — a recognition of the good, exciting and powerful feelings that go with being a sexual person. Too often, we try to scare kids out of a sexual encounter, but that hasn't worked for a lot of folks. If a pregnancy occurs or someone finds out a couple has been sexually active, they are often left riddled with shame. The truth is sexual feelings are normal, powerful and feel good. We need to anticipate them and honor them. Waiting for the right partner with which to have a sexual experience should be about more than just not getting pregnant. I can remember 40-plus years ago, minister Charlie Shedd wrote, "Masturbation is a gift from God.” He was slammed from pulpits of all denominations. Yet, boys and girls, since the beginning of time, have grown up exploring their sexuality and feeling guilty and ashamed of a normal rite of passage. Why then do we think that once a couple says "I do,” they will automatically embrace and explore and enjoy the sexual act? I have spoken with too many women who have never been able to enjoy a sexual relationship with their partners because they were taught as children that sex is dirty, wrong or sinful, and something to be feared. The generation in which I grew up did not talk about sex, while today's society flaunts and exploits it. Neither way is healthy or honors that vital part of our selves. If any adult who speaks with teenagers is not comfortable being honest about sexual awakening, then find someone who is. Our kids deserve better. Charlotte Lankard is a marriage and family therapist and director of the James L. Hall Center for Mind, Body and Spirit at Integris. E-mail: email@example.com. Web site: www.charlottelankard.com.