Talking to your teens about sex can be an awkward and uncomfortable conversation for both you and your child, but it doesn’t have to be. It just may be one of the more important conversation you ever have with your child. All parents want their children to be safe and make good life decisions. This includes decisions about relationships and sex. The more open, honest, and factual you can be with your child the better prepared they are entering into healthy and safe sexual relationships. According to Planned Parenthood, teens often name their parents as the biggest influence their decision about sex. Planned Parenthood’s studies also show that “Teens who report having good conversations with their parents about sex are more likely to use condoms and other birth control when they do have sex.” So lets get talking.
Sometimes it helps to acknowledge that the conversation is uncomfortable, but important. Let your child know that even if it is awkward, you love them and that is why is why it is important to talk.
Listen. Listen. Listen. Ask your child, “When do you think it is okay to have sex?” and then listen to their answer. Make sure your teen knows that you value their opinions.
Set expectations. It is okay to tell your child what your expectations are in regards to when it is okay to have sex. But also, realize that they may not follow your expectations. It is important to let your child know that you will love and support your child even if they don’t follow your expectations.
Do your best to not judge or shame your teen. Your child needs to know that they have your support.
Use factual information about sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Don’t lie about or exaggerate risk. Teens need to know they can trust you to be honest and accurate in your information.
Start early. Don’t wait until your teen is 15 or 16 years old to begin talking about sex You can begin having honest age appropriate conversations about sex and sexuality from as early as pre-school. The younger you begin talking to them the more comfortable the conversations are.
For more information check out www.talkwithyourkids.org or www.noplacelikehome.org