How to Start the Conversation: 10 Tips For Parents
While parents know it is not easy to bring up the topic of sex with their teenager, it is a conversation that every teen must have to be educated on health risks and potential consequences from engaging in early sexual activity. Most parents think their teens would altogether like to avoid this topic with them. They are wrong.
According to a 2004 study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, nearly 9 out of 10 (88%) teens say it would be easier to avoid early sexual activity and teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations about these topics with their parents. We know it can be tough, so we have provided a few helpful steps to talk to your teens about sex and get the conversation started.
1. Initiation is Key
Don’t be afraid to start the conversation; especially if you have a question or concern. Remember: If you think it’s difficult for an adult to raise certain topics, imagine how hard it must be for a teenager. Initiate one-on-one conversations while doing something fun and relaxing.
2. Keep an Open Environment
Be available to listen. Give plenty of opportunities to start a talk and don’t criticize your teens for having questions, even if they ask questions or raise ideas that disturb you. Don’t interrupt with your opinions and keep a calm environment.
3. Give Your Undivided Attention
When the opportunity presents itself, focus your attention on the conversation and your teenager. Let them know you are an active part of the conversation. If it is really a bad time to talk, schedule another time, but first make sure that waiting is okay.
4. Relate to Their Level
Use examples from television, movies, music, and even your own experiences during your conversation. Ask for their idea about what THEY think creates a healthy dating relationship and dating behaviors.
5. Talk Often
Frequent chats are a great way of communicating, reinforcing your beliefs and values and letting your kids know that you are interested in their lives. Be supportive, and develop mutual trust.
6. Understand the Question and Answer Honestly
If you are not sure what your teen is asking, let them know. Once you understand the question, answer honestly and assure your child that you can come up with a solution together. Ask open ended questions to allow for more clarity.
7. Take Advantage of “Teachable Moments”
Teens are exposed to sex in every form of the media. Popular culture such as television, movies and music are a great way to bring up the topic of sex. Almost every teen movie or television show features sexual activity on some level.
8. Identify What They Want in a Relationship
What do they value and think is important in a relationship? By talking about important qualities such as trust, honesty and respect, you can start a conversation about maintaining healthy relationships in their lives.
9. Teach them “How to Say No”
At some point every teenager will be in an uncomfortable situation, maybe with their boyfriend or girlfriend. If they know it is okay to say “No”, they will not feel pressured to enter into forced or awkward relationships unwillingly.
10. Provide Options
Don’t be upset if your teen is more comfortable talking with an aunt, uncle, family friend or teacher about sex. In fact, encourage them to do so and keep in mind that the important thing is having someone for them to turn to for advice.