Why Talk About Sex?
Whether your children are 2 or 22, what you say can play a role in how healthy, safe, and responsible they are for the rest of their lives. Talking to your children will help them:
- Appreciate and respect their own bodies.
- Protect themselves from peer pressure, abuse, or coercion.
- Delay sex until they are older and ready.
- Avoid getting pregnant or causing a pregnancy.
- Understand your family’s values, expectations, and rules.
- Tell fact from fiction in the media or locker room.
- Talk to doctors, partners, and you about sex, safety, and boundaries.
Afraid it will be awkward? It will be. But 87% of teens say they could more easily delay sex if they could have open, honest conversations with their parents about it. Here are a few things to help you prepare for these conversations.
Messages Worth Repeating
- All of us are growing and changing throughout our lives.
- Everyone develops in his/her own way.
- Your way is unique and special and valid.
- Everybody's body is private and deserves respect.
- Sexuality is a beautiful gift—something to be handled wisely.
Beyond "The Talk"
It can be helpful to think beyond the stereotypical one-and-done conversation about where babies come from. A series of age-appropriate conversations over many years provides opportunities for parents and their children to explore the many sides of sexual health. Children learn more from real-life situations than hypothetical situations, so look to media, popular culture and everyday life to trigger your next conversation.
When You Talk to Young People
Keep in mind these Door Openers:
- "What do you think?"
- "That's a good question."
- "I don't know, but I'll find out."
- "I'm trying to understand what you're feeling."
- "Do you know that word means?"
- "I'm glad you told me about that."
Stay away from these Door Slammers:
- "You're too young."
- "Where did you hear that?"
- "If you say that word again, I'll …"
- "That's none of your business."
- "I don't care what your friends are doing."
- "That's just for boys (girls)."
- "We'll talk about that when you need to know.
Of course, adults are only human. If you find yourself slamming shut the door to communication try to:
- Take a deep breath and start over.
- Listen to what a child is really saying and use the communication tips you know work.
- Apologize when you say something untrue or unkind.
- Ask your child how your words made her/him feel and take responsibility for any discomfort you may have caused.