I’m 33-years-old and a mother now, and a few years ago I asked my friends if their mothers ever had the ‘sex talk’ with them. To my surprise they all said ‘no.’ I was in that same boat because my mother never had the ‘talk’ with me either. We all just learned on our own, and in hindsight, I wish someone would have talked to me.
I guess the conversation was a little taboo for my mother’s generation, but sexuality is such an important part of a person’s identity. Sexuality should be embraced as something beautiful that is to be respected. It’s so important to talk to kids about sex because they’re receiving messages about sexuality from TV, music, and their peers–and the messages they get aren’t always positive.
A study from the National Survey of Family Growth held from 2006 to 2008 showed that more than 40 percent of U.S. teenagers have had sex at least once.
If you have a preteen or teenager and you haven’t had the sex talk with them yet, here are some things to consider:
Assess Your Beliefs First
It’s important to first assess your own thoughts and feelings surrounding sexuality before talking to your child. Your tone in the conversation is very important, so if, for example, you have negative feelings surrounding sexuality you should deal with those first.
Keep The Goal In Mind
The goal of sex education with your child shouldn’t only be to scare them to death. It should be for them to gain a positive view of sexuality, understand their bodies better, know some of the cons of having sex too early, and to learn about safe sex practices. You want them to be able to make healthy decisions on their own based off of what you tell them.
This can be an awkward conversation for some parents and teens, so you could use an example from a movie that you saw together as a family and ask their opinion about a certain scene. To kick things off, could also make up a scenario question and ask them which answer they think is the best.
You may want to consider explaining why you feel the way you do about sex. This is the time to use any examples that support your values. Sharing a tidbit from a personal experience allows you to connect and may help them feel more comfortable opening up with you in the conversation or in the future.
The Birds And The Bees
You can use an online program for sex education to help guide you or you can use diagrams with images and explain both the male and female bodies. Then you can ask them what they already know and then explain what happens during sexual intercourse.
After you have explained how sex works, talk to them about why it’s important to wait until it’s with the right person and the right time. You can give them suggestions and brainstorm together about ways they can talk with their romantic partners about delaying sex.
Regardless of whether they are sexually active or not, talking about safe sex is important. Based on the statistic above, if you want them to avoid an unplanned pregnancy or getting an STD then their knowledge about contraception is important. Make sure he or she knows where to get safe sex supplies and birth control. Let them know that you are more than willing to take them to a sexual and reproductive health center if they want to go.
If by any chance your child is so uncomfortable that they refuse or are totally tuned out when talking with you, then tell them their other option is to talk with a professional at a local reproductive health center. Even though you may want to be the one to have the talk, it’s better that they have it with someone versus no one at all.