Talking with Your Teen About Sex

Parents should realize that they should provide awareness to their teenage children when it comes to sexuality. However, talking about sex with your children can be a challenge. Some parents tend to be fearful about the prospect, afraid of saying too much too soon, feeling that they do not know enough to be a reliable source of accurate information, or fearing that it goes against religious beliefs.

It actually doesn’t take a expert to discuss meaningfully to your children about sex and sexuality. Every parent can share their values about sexuality, relationships, and respect for others. Although it does take some forethought, parents can provide information to their teens about sexuality, and reinforce their spiritual or religious values.

Here are some tips you may consider when talking to your teen about sex.

Follow your child’s lead – If the conversation is going in a direction you didn’t expect, follow it.

Inform your teen about birth control – Tell your child about the importance of birth control, how it is used, and where they can go to get it. When done in a caring manner, and when it is provided as a prevention rather than encouragement, this knowledge and equipment would not cause your child to have sex. Be confident that your teen would not go about catting around tomorrow night after learning about birth control.

Help them understand their bodies – Teaching about the male and female reproductive systems should be taught to children as early as 11. They would certainly understand at that point, plus you are providing the foundation to their awareness of their sexuality and how they could prevent unwanted pregnancy.

Don’t overromanticize sex – Don’t explain to your child that she came from a stork in a form of a seed that grew on a strawberry patch. Don’t scare your child either into thinking that sex would hurt her or bleed her to death.

Be clear about your values – Gather your thoughts and define your values before speaking to your children about sexuality. Determine what you believe and what your faith has to say about sex. It is important to give your children factual information, and at the same time be specific about how your religious beliefs either agree or disagree from science.

Discuss facts against beliefs – There are some instances when your personal or religious belief about sexuality is challenged by facts. It is best to provide both to your children, as it can give your teen knowledge about the information and perspective about your values. You could also explain to children that there are different beliefs in the community, that people are allowed to disagree with each other, and that differing views should be respected as long as those views are based on ethics, responsibility, justice, equality, and nonviolence.

Practice what you preach – It is confusing for young people when parents talk about a value regarding sexuality and then act in a way that goes completely opposite. Acting on your values and being a good role model at the same time are powerful messages for your children.

Do not be preachy – Have a conversation with your children, as opposed to talking at them. Find out what they think and how they feel about sexuality and relationships. Hearing their side would make you able to share information and respond to questions in ways that would resonate with the belief system that they are developing for themselves.

Encourage a sense of pride – All children deserve to be wanted and loved, and parents can reinforce this message. Let your teens know that you are interested in what they think and how they feel about any topic, be it sexuality, school, religion, or others. Praise your children when they share their feelings with you. Gently correct misinformation, and reinforce your values whenever possible.

Keep the conversation going – Parents tend to think they need to wait until they collect enough information and energy to be prepared about "the talk." However, sexuality is a part of every person’s life, therefore it is important to start the conversation early and make it clear to your children that you are always willing to talk about sexuality.

Keep your sense of humor – Sexuality can be a joyful topic for discussion in the family.

Express your love – Stress to your teen that no matter what happens, you are there for your child.