Even though talking to your child about sex can be
uncomfortable, awkward and difficult you play a pivotal role in your
child’s future relationships.
Not having this conversation with your child may cause them to deal
with serious issues such as teen pregnancy, depression and sexually
about your own sexual values
Communicating with your children about sex, love,
and relationships is often more successful when you are
certain in your own mind about these issues. Knowing how
to talk to your kids about sex is often complicated by
the fact that few of us spend time considering our own
sexual values. Knowing how we feel about key issues of
sexuality can go a long way to communicating clear and
helpful information to our children To help clarify your
own attitudes and values, think about the following
kinds of questions.
-What do you really think about school-aged teenagers
being sexually active — perhaps even becoming parents?
-Who is responsible for setting limits in a relationship
and how is that done, realistically?
-Were you sexually active as a teenager and how do you
feel about that now?
-Were you sexually active before you were married?
-What do such reflections lead you to say to your own
children about these issues?
abstinence best for teens?
-What do think about teens using
Talk with your
children early and often about sex, and be specific.
Age-appropriate conversations about relationships and
intimacy should begin
early in a child’s life and continue through
adolescence. Resist the idea that there should be
just one conversation about all this — you know, “the
talk.” Think 18 year conversation. The truth is that
parents and kids should be talking about sex and love
all along. This applies to both sons and daughters and
mothers and fathers. All teens need large amounts of
communication, guidance, and information about these
issues, even if they sometimes don’t appear to be
interested in what you have to say. And if you have
regular conversations, you won’t worry so much about
making a mistake, because you’ll always be able to talk
people have lots of questions about sex, and they often
say that the source they'd most likely to go to for
answers are their PARENTS. If you are genuinely
interested in raising sexually healthy children you need
to create an environment where they feel comfortable
asking you questions. Start the conversation, and make
sure that it is honest, open, and respectful. If you
can't think of how to start the discussion, consider
using situations shown on television or in movies as
conversation starters. Be sure to have a two-way
conversation, not a one-way lecture. Ask them what they
think and what they know so you can correct
misconceptions. Ask what, if anything, worries them.
Here are the kinds of questions kids say they want to
How do I know if
I'm in love?
Will sex bring me
closer to my girlfriend/boyfriend
How will I know
when I'm ready to have sex?
Should I wait until
the way, research clearly shows that talking with your children
about sex does not encourage them to become sexually active. And
remember, too, that your own behavior should match your words.
The "do as I say, not as I do" approach is bound to lose with
children and teenagers, who are careful and constant observers
of the adults in their lives.
Don’t Feel Pressured to answer sex questions on the
If you are
shocked by a question, or get a question you don't know
how to answer, it’s okay to admit that, and let your
child know you want to talk about it, but you want to do
that later. Don't use this as a way to avoid answering
the question altogether, but if you've had a long day at
work and are rushing around trying to get the grocery
shopping done, it's okay to tell you child that they
need to wait until the end of the day, or when you're at
home and will feel more comfortable talking about it.
Supervise and monitor your
children and adolescents
Establish rules, curfews
Have standards of expected behavior
Know where they are when they go out with
Make sure there are adults around who are
Remember: Supervising and monitoring your kids'
whereabouts doesn't make you a nag; it makes you a
Know your children's friends and their families
have a strong influence on each other, so help your
children and teenagers become friends with kids whose
families share your values. Some parents of teens even
arrange to meet with the parents of their children's
friends to establish common rules and expectations. It
is easier to enforce a curfew that your child's friends
share rather than one that makes him or her
different-but even if your views don't match those of
other parents, hold fast to your convictions. Welcome
your children's friends into your home and talk to them
Discourage early, frequent,
and steady dating.
activities among young people are fine and often fun,
but allowing teens to begin steady, one-on-one
dating much before age 16 can lead to trouble. Let
your child know about your strong feelings about this
throughout childhood-don't wait until your young teen
proposes a plan that differs from your preferences in
this area; otherwise, he or she will think you just
don't like the particular person.
Help your teenagers to have options for the future that
are more attractive than early pregnancy and parenthood.
that your children will delay sex, pregnancy, and
parenthood are significantly increased if their futures
appear bright. This means helping them set meaningful
goals for the future, talking to them about what it
takes to make future plans come true, and help them
reach their goals.
what your kids watch, read and listen to.
(television, radio, movies, music videos, magazines, the
Internet) are full of material sending the wrong
messages. Sex rarely has meaning, unplanned pregnancy
seldom happens, and few people having sex ever seem to
be married or even especially committed to anyone. Is
this consistent with your expectations and values? If
not, it is important to talk with your children about
what the media portray and what you think about it. You
will probably not be able to fully control what your
children see and hear, but you can certainly make your
views known and control your own home environment.
boundaries and model them for your kids
not your child’s best friend, and you
shouldn’t feel like you have to answer every personal
question your child might ask you. Establishing
boundaries (the things we will and won’t talk about with
strangers, family, friends, and eventually romantic
partners) is an important developmental stage, and you
can model for your child by having clear boundaries
about what you will and will not discuss with them.
These first ten tips for helping your children
avoid teen pregnancy work best when they occur as part of
strong, close relationships with your children that are built
from an early age. Strive for a relationship that is warm in
tone, firm in discipline, and rich in communication, and one
that emphasizes mutual trust and respect. There is no single way
to create such relationships, but the following habits of the
heart can help:
Show love and affection clearly and often. Hug your children,
and tell them how much they mean to you.
Listen carefully to what your children say and pay thoughtful
attention to what they do.
Spend time with your children engaged in activities that suit
their ages and interests, not just yours.
Be supportive and be interested in what interests them. Attend
their sports events; learn about their hobbies; be enthusiastic
about their achievements, even the little ones; ask them
questions that show you care and want to know what is going on
in their lives.
Be courteous and respectful to your children and avoid hurtful
teasing or ridicule. Don't compare your teenager with other
family members. Show that you expect courtesy and respect from
them in return.
Help them to build self-esteem by mastering skills; remember,
self-esteem is earned, not given, and one of the best ways to
earn it is by doing something well.
Try to have meals together as a family as often as possible, and
use the time for conversation, not confrontation.
final note: it's never too late to improve a relationship with a
child or teenager. Don't underestimate the great need that
children feel--at all ages--for a close relationship with their
parents and for their parents' guidance, approval, and support.
Teen Survival Guide