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8 conversation-starting tips
Need help getting started? Here are 8 tips for talking about sex and love with your children.
Use this “window of opportunity” and talk with your children early and often about tough issues like sex, love and relationships.
Start the talk.
Don’t count on your child feeling comfortable enough to come to you with questions. Begin the conversation yourself.
Share your values.
When talking with your child about sex, love and relationships remember to talk about your family’s values.
Listen as much as you talk.
Listening carefully lets your child know they are important. This can lead to valuable discussions about a wide variety of sensitive issues.
Whatever your child’s age, they need honest answers and information. Honesty will build trust for further talks.
Let your child think at their own pace. Listen to what they are saying daily about people, places and situations they are in that may be unhealthy, or give cause for concern.
Use “teachable moments.”
Moments in everyday life are a perfect chance to begin talking. TV shows and commercials are a great way to start a talk about teen pregnancy, peer pressure or relationships.
Talk about it again… and again… and again.
Most children only want small bits of information at any one time — especially about heavy topics like sex, love and relationships. They will not learn everything from a single discussion — give more than just “the talk”!
9 concrete tips for talking to your teens about sex
Teenagers are put in many situations that they may not be prepared for. Evidence has shown that if teens consider high risk behaviors prior to being put in situations that prompt these behaviors, they may make better decisions. So, talk with your teens before they get into the situation about how to handle it. Helpful ways to do this are noted below:
Let them know that you trust them to make a good decision. If you are uncomfortable talking about sex, let them know. It is likely that they are feeling awkward too. But don’t let that stop you from having this important conversation.
Do you want them to wait to have intercourse? Sexual touching? Kissing? Tell them why. Do you want them to wait until they are older? Married? More prepared to have safe sex? Explain to them your reasons for wanting them to wait, so that they can think through their own reasons.
Discuss birth control, pregnancy and STDs with your children.
Studies have shown that providing kids with accurate information about safe sex doesn’t increase sexual activity.
Begin talking with your children before they begin dating, and then again as they grow up and enter relationships.
Let them know it is OK to have sexual feelings.
Tell them that their feelings are natural, but they don’t have to act on them. Talk to them about other ways that they can express their love and affection.
Teach them how to say no.
You can start the conversation by saying something like, “What would you do if your date wanted to have sex and you didn’t?” Let them know that it is best for them to talk to their partner early, before things heat up.
Give them tips for avoiding pressure.
Suggest planning group activities or spending time in public places to help them avoiding situations they may feel sexually pressured. Let them know that using drugs or alcohol might make it more difficult to say no or make good decisions about birth control.
Help them plan for the future.
Let them know that they are important, and they have too much potential to mess their future up with an unplanned pregnancy or STD.
Young people are more likely to follow through on a decision to remain abstinent if it is what they want. Let them know that if it is too hard for them to talk to you about sex, there are other professionals and trusted adults they can talk to, like a counselor or doctor.