Being a teenager is an emotional and physical time in life. Teens are experiencing physical, emotional and hormonal changes that aren’t always comfortable or easy to understand. They feel life in a very intense way during adolescence.
The Sex Talk can be one of the most uncomfortable discussions that a parent needs to have with a teenager.
Guess what?! Teens aren’t excited about this talk either! Yet it is vital that both parents and teens open the lines of communication and talk to each other about sex.
Sex education classes in schools, where available, can be a wonderful way to open up those lines of communication. If your state or county doesn’t support sex ed in schools, it’s up to you as a parent to open that line of communication.
The Band is here to help.
Research shows that teens do care about what their parents think about them and that parents do influence their decisions about sex. Research from the Centers for Disease Control also shows that from 2006-2010, 46% of high school students have had sexual intercourse.
Talk to your teenager about your own experiences – the good and the bad. Be willing to share your particular viewpoints on sex issues and why you feel that way about them.
Use “I” statements when possible to avoid any finger-pointing or blame.
Movies, books, music, prime time tv, and even the media show sex in a myriad of different ways. Teens do recognize that much of what they see is overrated, derogatory, or fanciful. Teens need guidance on what a healthy and normal sexual relationship should be like. It isn’t the vampire romance between Bella and Edward (Twilight books) nor is it always perfectly in sync like those bodice- ripping romance novels from the Eighties (a little too much Fabio is a bad thing).
Your teen may not engage with you on the first conversation you have about sex. It’s okay to be discouraged about that. But remember you are the parent and remember how important this topic is to their future, their health, and ultimately their happiness.
How To Start The Talk
Teenagers are stretching their boundaries and learning about themselves separate from their parents and the family unit. It isn’t easy to get a teen to sit down and talk to you.
Between homework, football practice, drama club, and socializing with friends, teens stay busy. So use a car ride, a trip to get ice cream, coffee at a local coffee shop, or whatever it is your teen is into that affords a quiet place to sit and chat.
- Recognize how you personally feel about sex in your own life.
- Be respectful of your teen’s feelings and emotions. Remember that time in your life and how certain you were of your own feelings.
- Don’t be afraid to admit that talking about sex isn’t easy for you. Teens can relate to that.
- Start with something easy. Talk about what healthy relationships are. Ask the teen what they think it will feel like to be in love.
- Talk about the first time you thought you were in love.
- Talk about good decision making with respect to relationships and sex. Ask your teen if they talk to their friends or dating partner about sex.
- Make sure the conversation is balanced. Talk about the good things about sex, the consequences, and how the choices the teen makes should reflect their values.
- Remember to talk about safe sex. Abstinence is the only way to prevent STIs or a pregnancy, but there are precautions that can be taken to reduce the risk.
- Talk about the future. If your teen wants to go into a profession that requires a college degree, talk with them about how realistically a baby would fit into their vision of the future.
- Use a television show, a scene in a book, a commercial, or even a comedian’s routine to bring the topic up. You might be surprised at how much a 10 minute conversation can have an impact.
- Leave the conversation open-ended. Let your teen know they can come back and talk to you any time about any topic related to sex and relationships. Keep that newly established line of communication open.
A Few Things To Consider
Sex is fun, natural and feels good. We all know that. To deny it to a teenager, to only tell them that sex is something dirty and wrong, is hurtful and can create an atmosphere of betrayal. If you only ever tell your teen that sex is dirty and wrong, it may skew their view of a healthy sexual relationship. Even if your culture or religious beliefs state that sex is only for married couples and should primarily be for procreation, respect that your teenager is encountering other beliefs and cultures in school - your teen may have questions that challenge the boundaries of your own personal beliefs.
One conversation is not likely to cover all the questions or topics your teen or you may want to discuss. Don’t try and force them all into one conversation and keep an open mind about when and how you can bring up the topic of sex again.
Remember that you are the parent in this relationship. Your job is not to be your teenager’s friend but to guide them, provide boundaries, and teach them how to respect themselves.
Real sexual relationships include mutual respect, love, trust, friendship, and honesty. Let your teenager know of relationships that you had that did not meet these criteria and the ones that did.
Sex, with the right person and in the right context, is a positive and healthy experience.
Resources For You And Your Teenager About Sex:
Advocates for Youth – a resource for helping young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. Many articles and resources are available in several languages. Includes areas and information for both parents and teenagers.
Siecus – The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. This organization was founded to provide accurate information on sexuality to young people and adults.
SexEdLibrary – a comprehensive online resource for all things about sexual education.
The National Campaign To Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy – was primarily founded to help prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy. They support teaching responsible sexual behavior to both young men and women. They have specific resources for African-American youth and the Latino community.
Stay Teen – this sister site to The National Campaign is geared toward teenagers and they strive to provide teenagers with facts about sex and to provide them with unbiased information and different viewpoints. Some articles are even written by teenagers themselves.