For the record, my parents never really had the sex talk with me. When I was 17 years old and had my first “serious boyfriend” who invited me to vacation with his family at their ski cabin, my mom just said, “You know how to be safe about sex and all of that right?” and I said, “Yes” and she said, “Good” and that was that. I mean, I was 17 years old so, I think my parents understood that, with the Internet having been around for a while, I’d figured things out on my own. That being said, nobody should assume their kid is figuring things out on her own. And even furthermore, there are a lot of things that the Internet, or even your kid’s school sex education program, don’t cover, that would be very useful for teens to know. Here are things we forget to tell teens about sex.
Condoms can go bad
Kids get free condoms from a number of places and store them in their backpacks, wallets, or purses. But they don’t realize that heat exposure, and just being repeatedly sat on and smashed, can wear down this type of birth control, making it ineffective.
It doesn’t have to be terrible
For some reason, movies and shows have created this idea that a woman’s first time has to be painful and terrible, but that simply isn’t true. That just perpetuates the idea that men don’t have to perform foreplay, or learn to identify when a woman is properly lubricated. Whether she wants to hear it from you or read about it online, make sure your daughter knows that sex doesn’t have to be painful. Some women’s hymens remain intact their entire lives (if they don’t have kids).
But sometimes, it will be
Your kids should know, however, that sometimes sex will suck. It just will. Going forward in their lives, they may meet people with whom they have no sexual chemistry or with whom they need to work at it. That doesn’t mean their sex life is doomed, or even that that person is wrong for them. Sex isn’t always going to be seamless and magical the way it can be depicted in the media.
He probably won’t be the one
You have to tread delicately when you bring this up, but it is important to bring up. Too many young women stay with their high school boo for years (or ever) because that’s who took their virginity. Make sure your child knows that, the person to whom they lose their virginity should care about them—and it should be special—but that also likely won’t be the person they marry. Nor does it have to be.
You can say yes today and no tomorrow
I remember when I first started having sex, I thought that it meant I had to have sex with that boyfriend every time I saw him. He didn’t even necessarily pressure me—I just thought it’s what you do. I wish someone had told me that, in life, even when you’re in a relationship, you only have sex when you feel like it. No matter what anyone says.
That “experienced” person is still green
You know that boy or girl at your kid’s school who everyone says is “experienced?” You can tell your teen to stop being intimidated by them. No 16-year-old is experienced. No 19-year-old is experienced. Being experienced in sex means having been sexually active for at least five to ten years and grown adults all know that. Nobody knows what they are doing in bed for the first few years—at least.
You’ll feel different after
Let your kid—especially if you have a daughter—know that she’ll feel different after. Perhaps she’ll feel more grownup. But she will feel things she’s never felt before surrounding her body. Maybe calmness. Maybe anxiety. Tell her that whatever she feels is normal.
But that’s not permanent
Also let your child know that, though they’ll feel different for a while after having sex for the first time, that won’t last forever. That odd fog isn’t permanent. They’ll grow up, and have times when they feel like kids again.
The morning after pill exists
Make sure that your child knows about the morning after pill. I understand that parents can have reservations surrounding this but you would much rather buy your child the morning after pill than pay for an intrusive and traumatic operation later. And you understand my meaning.
But it should be a backup
Just make sure that your teen understands that the morning after pill is for emergencies only. And that she must use a primary form of birth control such as condoms or a birth control pill. But should one of those fail, or should she forget to take her pill on time, it is important she knows about the morning after pill.
Age difference matters
You don’t need to dance around the matter when you have a 16-year-old daughter with a 19-year-old boyfriend. Should they engage in intercourse, depending on what state you live in, they could be breaking a law. Make sure your teen knows that, as she likely doesn’t want her boyfriend in prison.
Your partner may act weird after
Your teen’s partner may act weird after they have sex for the first time. Losing one’s virginity can trigger unpredictable emotions. Just prepare your teen for that possibility, so she doesn’t panic and believe she did something wrong.
Lube: know it and use it
Make sure your teen knows about lube. It can feel odd to teach her about it—if you want, you can just direct her to a website you like with some good options—but she should have these tools available for her, and learn which ones react best with her body.
It doesn’t always make you feel closer
Often teens have sex with their partner because they want to feel closer to their partner. But it’s important that your child has realistic expectations and understands that, not only does sex not always make people feel closer—sometimes it makes them feel distant. And there are other ways to feel close that don’t come with risks of STDs or pregnancy.
You’ll be there, no matter what
Make sure your teen knows that no matter what happens, she can talk to you. No matter how bad she thinks it is, you’ve probably been there or know many people who have. And things will probably get worse if she doesn’t talk to you—you’re an adult with resources she doesn’t have.