Talking About Healthy Relationships
When teenagers worry about sex, they are often really worrying about relationships. When you talk about sex, also talk about relationships. Help your son or daughter build healthy relationships with their friends – boys and girls.
- Teach your son or daughter that healthy relationships are based on respect, caring, trust, and desire to help each other grow. Explain how early sexual activity can get in the way of their growth as a teen and young man or woman. To learn more, visit Good Answers for Tough Questions.
- Teach your son and daughter to show affection without having sex.
- Encourage your son or daughter to choose friends who have the same values as your family.
Talk to your pre-teen and teen about the different ways boys and girls, and men and women, touch each other when they are dating or in love. Make sure you let him or her know what you believe is okay and what is not okay, and at what age level. It is so important to talk early and often.
Help your child understand rules for physical touching before they begin dating. Help your teenager learn how to tell a boyfriend or girlfriend what these rules are.
Make sure your son or daughter knows that sex means oral, vaginal, or anal sex. And remind them that waiting until marriage to have sex is a healthy choice.
Some other important tips:
- Set rules for dating that make sense for your son or daughter’s age. Young teens, for example, should wait to date. Older teens can begin to have girlfriend/boyfriend relationships.
- Help pre-teens and young teens do things with groups of friends instead of one-on-one dating. This helps them learn important social skills and develop friendships.
- When your teen is old enough to start dating, meet the boy or girl early in the relationship. If possible, meet the parents. This makes sure everybody knows that YOU care enough to pay attention to what THEY do. Share your guidelines on dating: who, where, when, how often, and curfews.
- Explain that sex is not love and love is not sex. Teach your teenager how to know the difference. You can tell your teen that passion is not love. And infatuation is not love. Love grows over time and involves really knowing a person, respecting that person and – this is very important – knowing that person respects you. (Two-way respect is very important in every relationship. Almost one in three teenagers report they have been the victim of dating violence.)
- Explain why it is important to stay away from unhealthy behaviors. This includes alcohol and drug use, since they often lead to sex. To learn more, visit Teaching Your Son or Daughter How to Say "No" and Risky Behaviors.
Reprinted with the permission of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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