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.

Communication Tips

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.

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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.