Talking About Sex with Your Teen
Studies show that almost half of U.S.
teens have had sex by age 18. Educating kids about sex is something all parents need to
Be prepared to help your teens make sense of the changes in their bodies and their emerging sexuality. Otherwise your teen could be risking:
Your talks with your teen should come
naturally. So it’s important to build an open, trusting relationship with your kids while
they are still young. A good relationship with your child is a great foundation to have
effective conversations with your teen. If your child is maturing early, topics related to
sex and sexual activity may need to be discussed sooner than the teen years.
Be alert to warning signs that could mean there is a problem related to sexual activity. Some of these signs include:
A drastic change in eating or sleeping habits
A sudden loss of interest in school
Strange statements such as, “I think I might need to see a doctor”
How can you find ways to talk about
the tough subject of sex with your teen? Here are a few suggestions:
Look for openings. Use current
events as an icebreaker. Imagine you are watching the news on TV, and a story about
teen pregnancy comes up. That can be a natural way for you to use that news story to
begin a more personal talk about sexual issues.
Make the first move. In most
cases, it’s better to bring up the subject of sex yourself, rather than wait for your
child to seek you out. Why? If your child has questions, you want the answers to come
from a mature, caring adult, and not from the child’s peers who may or may not have
the facts straight.
Sort out your own values
first. If, as a parent, you decide that sexual activity is OK, then you should be
clear about what behavior and boundaries you expect from your teen. It's a good idea
to have a discussion with your family healthcare provider about how you’re going to
handle issues such as pregnancy and disease prevention.
Talk with other parents. Parents
who have already raised teens can offer suggestions that may help you communicate
better with your children.