Talking to Kids About Sex
Take an Active Role in the Sex Education of Your Child
Helping a child to grow up to be a responsible, sexually healthy adult is one of our greatest challenges. But if you take an active role, you can meet that challenge. Research shows that teens are less likely to have sex at an early age, if they feel close to their parents and if their parents clearly communicate their values.1,2 Surveys also show that young people actually want to talk with their parents about tough issues like sex. They say they listen to parents more than anyone else about these issues.
Think of Yourself as Your Child's Coach in the Big Game of Life
You know the rules of the game. You know what's important.
- Look for opportunities. A good coach takes every opportunity to build a player's skills. Be alert to what your children are saying to each other. Use TV shows, movies, or advertisements to bring up subjects. Use any opportunity to find out what they really know, teach them, and let them know how you feel.
- Know what else they are learning. Do you know what is in the curriculum at school? Who is teaching human sexuality? Is it a trained, certified health educator? What else is being taught in faith communities or youth groups?
- Be prepared to respond. A good coach is ready for any question. There are many resources that can help you learn and prepare. Visit the websites below. Explore libraries or bookstores. There are whole sections on parenting, sexuality and relationships. Talk to friends, other parents and religious leaders. Remember, a good coach gets help when they need it.
- Pick your time and place. Choose a time and place that is relaxed and gives you some privacy, especially for in-depth conversations. When you are saying good night is a good time.
- Keep lines of communication open. A good coach is always "ask-able." It's okay to be embarrassed. This is very personal information. What's important is to be open, so that your kids feel comfortable and safe talking with you about sensitive issues. When they do, be honest. And remember, it's usually more important to listen than to talk.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. Don't just have "the one big talk." Young people need lots of opportunities to learn about life. Start early. Expect to talk with your child about sex for most of your life. If you mess up, there will always be another chance to do it again.
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