Most parents anticipate with dread the “birds and bees” talk with their teenager. When our children are young, it is easy to avoid thinking about our children become sexual beings. The time for “the talk” can sneak up on us complete with questions and concerns. Some fear that talking about sex with their adolescent will lead to them thinking about sex more or worse yet, encourage them actually to have sex. However, you are your teenager’s best and most important source of information about sex. When there is a vacuum of knowledge, children will get their information from others, friends, television, magazines, the internet. Adolescents who are well informed about sex actually make better decisions regarding sex.
Here are some tips on how you can communicate with your teen about this important topic:
- Start early. It is important to start the conversation when your child is entering puberty.That would be around the ages of 11 or 12.This will help prepare them for the changes in their bodies, hormones and emotions.Your pre-teen or early teen may not be communicating to you about these changes but rest assured, they are thinking about them.
- Don’t wait for them to come to you. Teenagers may act like they know what they need to know about sex but that is rarely true.They may be afraid to approach their parents about their developing bodies and developing curiosities because of embarrassment and confusion.They may even try to avoid the conversation but don’t let that happen. Be patient but consistent.
- Keep it simple. Your child does not need complicated terms or detailed anatomical explanations. He needs solid and clear information. Make sure she understands what you are explaining by asking her to tell you what she has heard and have her say it back to you.
- Keep it accurate. We have all been subjected to myths and lies about sex at some point in our lives. These inaccuracies can often lead to poor decisions around sexual behavior. It is even okay to check information you may not be sure about yourself before you talk with your child.
- Share your values about sexual behavior. Research has shown that when our children know and understand our values around sexual behavior, they frequently embrace those same values when they make their own sexual choices. However, moralizing and threatening negative consequences about sexual decisions outside of your moral code may have just the opposite effect.
Following these guidelines will prepare you to provide the best information and guidance to your teenager, which will help him or her to navigate this important part of life. Ultimately, talking with your teenager about sex may well bring you closer.