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Despite the fretting that seems to go hand in hand with talking to children about S-E-X, it looks like what may be truly important isn’t exactly how you broach the subject, but how often. According to a recent study published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, teens who have repeated conversations with their parents about sexual topics feel closer to their parents and are more comfortable approaching them about sexual issues than teens who simply have a one-time Talk.
According to Steven Martino, Ph.D. a behavioral scientist with the RAND (Reseach and Development) Corporation and one of the authors of the study, parents should make sure the lines of communication are open when it comes to conversations about sex. “We would recommend that parents have repeated discussions about sex with their children, and not assume that covering a subject once is enough,” states Martino. “This may be unwelcome news for parents who are uncomfortable talking with their kids about sex, but it seems to be important in terms of kids’ perceptions about their relationship and communication with their parents and ultimately be important in terms of kids’ sexual health.”
The southern California study examined 312 sixth to tenth graders and their parents. Over the course of one year adolescents completed four surveys regarding whether they had talked about each of twenty-two sex-related issues with a parent. The results of the study showed that repetition of these topics was consistently associated with teens having positive perceptions of their relationship with their parents, and their ability to communicate effectively with them.
Talking to kids about sex can be difficult, but it can also be a healthy, loving way to help children explore terrain that is incredibly tough to navigate without the guidance and wisdom of a loving parent.