Ah, the sex talk. It’s uncomfortable. It’s awkward. And it’s totally necessary. If you want your teen to make healthy choices about sex, you’re going to need to have the talk. So here are some tips for making the conversation more comfortable and constructive – and, hopefully, a little less awkward.
Choose a time and location that allow for privacy and easy communication.
Getting your teen to talk about sex is hard enough, so make sure you bring up the subject when you both have ample privacy and enough time to let the conversation run its course. You want to ensure that you are able to discuss your family’s values and expectations and address any potential concerns, as well as give your teen the opportunity to ask questions and share his or her thoughts. So don’t strike up the conversation in the car on the way to practice; instead, opt to have the talk during a Saturday afternoon stroll through the park or a quiet dinner at home.
Acknowledge that talking about sex can be awkward and uncomfortable.
Don’t try to gloss over the conversation or act like it’s as easy as talking about who will make the playoffs this year. It’s going to be awkward – for both of you – so acknowledge that fact. Addressing it lets your teen know that what he or she is feeling is normal, and emphasizes the importance of talking about subjects even if they do make us uncomfortable.
Treat it like a conversation, not a lecture.
It’s a mistake to list of a series of “don’ts” when you have the talk. Be clear about what behaviors are acceptable, but don’t launch into a lecture. If you lecture, your teen will shut down and stop listening, and he or she certainly won’t feel comfortable enough to ask questions or share concerns. It’s best to pause throughout the conversation and invite your teen to weigh in or check to make sure you’re both on the same page.
Follow Up With Your Teen.
Sex is a complicated subject: teens are not only trying to gain an understanding of the physical and emotional aspects of sex – they’re also grappling with peer pressure and the process of becoming comfortable with their own sexuality. So don’t expect to have just one conversation. Your son or daughter may want to think about what you’ve discussed and address it again later, or may have questions as time goes on. So keep the lines of communication open by checking in after the talk and letting your teen know that you’re available to talk again.
A final note on the sex talk: it will be much easier for you and your teen if you have talked about sex throughout different stages of his or her childhood. Professionals recommend creating a dialogue with your child as they grow so you can educate, reassure and answer questions as he or she progresses to adolescence.