Parent-child communication about sex can help young people to gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to protect themselves when they become sexually active. Research shows that young people who spoke with their parents about condoms and contraception before they became sexually active were more likely to use protection when they did become sexually active. Further research shows that talking about sex does not cause young people to become sexually active.
Advocates for Youth offers parents these tips for talking with young people about sexuality.
- Acquire a broad foundation of factual information from reliable sources. Remember that sexuality is a much larger topic than sexual intercourse. It includes biology and gender, of course, but it also includes emotions, intimacy, caring, sharing and loving.
- Learn and use the correct terms for body parts and functions. If you have difficulty saying some words without embarrassment, practice saying these words until you are as comfortable with them as with non-sexual words.
- Think through your own feelings and values about love and sex. Include your childhood memories, your first infatuation, your values and how you feel about current sex-related issues. You must be aware of how you feel before you can effectively talk with youth.
- Talk with your child. Listen more than you speak. Make sure you and your child have open, two-way communication — as it forms the basis for a positive relationship between you and your child.
- Don’t worry about —
- Being “with it.” Youth have that with their peers. From you, they want to know what you believe, who you are and how you feel.
- Being embarrassed. Your kids will feel embarrassed, too and that’s okay because love and many aspects of sexuality are highly personal.
- Deciding which parent should have this talk. Any loving parent or caregiver can be an effective sex educator for his/her children.
- Missing some of the answers. It’s fine to say that you don’t know. Just follow up by offering to find the answer or to work with your child to find the answer.
For more information, visit www.advocatesforyouth.org.