Few things terrify a parent more than the idea of talking to their teenage son or daughter about sex. Many people are extremely uncomfortable with the idea of openly discussing sex and sexuality with their teenager, and go to great lengths to avoid it. While this scenario is funny on TV and in the movies, it sends a bad message to both parents and teens that the topic is taboo and should be avoided at all costs.
Ignoring this important aspect of life leaves many teens in the dark about such vital knowledge as how their bodies work, relationships, reproduction, love, lust, contraception, diseases and even gender roles and expectations. In order to ensure your teen has a healthy outlook on sex and is fully informed about all aspects of sex and sexuality, you must start talking to about sexual activity with your teen.
Talking to your teen about sex is generally considered one of the hardest aspects of parenting because the topic makes people uncomfortable. While talking with your teen about sex may not be easy, it is an essential part of life and can affect whether or not your teen has a healthy outlook or not. Sex and sexuality deals with several factors, such as how male and female bodies work, love, relationships, reproduction, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexual behavior.
It’s never too late to start talking with your child about sex, but most experts agree that the earlier you do, the better. Tailor the conversation to be age appropriate and establish it as a topic that your child knows you will be honest and open about. This lays the groundwork for future conversations as your child grows and has new and more difficult questions.
Contrary to what you might see in the movies, the sex talk should never be limited to just one sit-down conversation. Keeping the lines of communication open means that as your teen encounters new ideas or information, they can come to you and ask questions. Use issues on the news or incidents in the lives of others to start conversations and share your feelings and beliefs.
Make it a habit to be honest with your teenager about the information you are sharing. It’s also perfectly fine to add in your views on certain controversial topics, relate your religious or social views on sex and even to present opposite views. Your teenager will develop her own opinions and observations and they may not line up with yours, but at least you are providing information as you see it. Being honest also means saying that you don’t know if you don’t, and that discussing sex may make you uncomfortable but that you are doing it because you love your child and want them to be able to talk about anything with them.
One big benefit of being able to talk about sex with your teen is that they can eliminate misinformation that they might pick up from friends or the media. There are lots of myths out there that teens share because they don’t know all the information, so taking the time to correct these will go a long way in helping her develop a healthy, accurate view on sex.
Your teen may not want to do all the listening, and might be interested in asking questions, weighing opinions, sharing what their peers think and more. Above all, make sure you are listening to your teen’s words and try not to steamroll their opinions or point of view. Validate their worries and concerns, offer advice and help them understand what they need to know to move from their teen years to a healthy adult relationship with appropriate sexual knowledge.