Figuring out how to talk to your child about sex is difficult. Having a conventional “birds and bees” chat over milk and cookies is a far-fetched dream for most American families. Do you casually bring up sex during mealtime conversation about soccer practice and a math test? Do you sit your child down face-to-face and have a serious health talk?
Addressing sexuality issues with your teen tends to be one of the most challenging aspects of parenting teenagers. When is the appropriate age to have the talk? You don’t want to bring it up too early when the child won’t think it’s a pertinent topic. But if you wait too long then you’ll be too late, and your teen might have already received negative messages from the media and his peers.
If you’re not sure where to begin then here are some guidelines on how to discuss sex with your teenager:
It’s not a one-shot deal
Don’t think there has to be one end-all be-all conversation between you and your child about sex. The topic should be an ongoing discussion, as a child will be exposed to sex repeatedly and from different angles.
Speak your mind
Your child will learn a lot about sex from television, movies, and magazines. So make your voice heard and let your child know how you feel about what both of you are seeing, hearing, and reading. To make it relevant, you can discuss young celebrities who are pregnant and movies that depict scenes of casual sex. Express your morals so your child knows exactly where you stand.
Teens choose their choices
As much as parents want to shield their child from the prospective dangers of sex, ultimately it is the teen’s decision as to when he has sex and with whom. As a parent, initiate open conversations about safety precautions and consequences, but you need to try to respect your child’s choices and his sexual development. You don’t want to create an environment in your home where your teen feels like he has to hide his sexual decisions.
You are the adult. You’ve had sex. Believe in your opinions and share them. Be confident and feel comfortable. If you are anxious then your child will think that any chat about sex will be stressful. Don’t instill the fear factor in your child by preaching about the prevalence of teenage pregnancy. Be rational, not extreme. If you teach respect then your child will practice it. If you encourage responsibility then your child will follow.