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Many parents dread having “the talk” with their kids because it can be awkward to talk with them about sexual health. Even though it may be a difficult conversation for parents to have, talking to teens about their sexual and reproductive health has a lot of benefits. To combat any uncomfortableness or awkwardness that you may feel when talking with your teens about their sexual health, here are a few tips.
Some parents think that once “the talk” is over, it’s checked off the list. Although parents may have talked to their kids one time about sexual health, it’s important for parents to have ongoing conversations with their children about sexual health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teens who talk with their parents about their sexual health benefit more than those who don’t. Their research says that these teens wait longer to have sex, use protection more often if they are sexually active, have sex less often and talk with their romantic partners more openly.
Most teens want open and honest communication with their parents about sex, but they don’t want to initiate it. When parents initiate a conversation about sexual health in a sincere, candid way, they are able to help their teen postpone sexual activity and avoid pregnancy. In fact, a recent survey found nearly 9 in 10 teenagers thought it would be easier for them to delay sexual activity and avoid pregnancy if they could have more open conversations with their parents.
Everybody has different ideas about sex, and if a parent has certain expectations about their teen’s relationships and sex, they should openly communicate those expectations to them. A study shows that 38% of teens said that parents most influenced their decisions about sex.
When parents speak with their children about sex, many often use phrases such as “don’t have sex” or “don’t get pregnant.” Although this isn’t wrong, these phrases also don’t give your teenager any advice on what they should actually do. Teens should know their options for what they should do to protect themselves from STD’s or unwanted pregnancy. If parents teach their kids abstinence, it’s still important for them to teach their kids about contraception and reproductive health.
It’s important to talk with your teen about how to prevent STDs, especially about how STDs spread and how teens can protect themselves. For parents, knowing when and how to talk about STDs can be tricky. You can always bring up STDs if your teen starts asking questions about sex or when your teen gets the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. The media also frequently portrays romantic relationships, which could be a good starting point when talking with your teen about sexual relationships and STDs.
There isn’t a specific age that you should begin talking with your kids about sexual health. It’s up to the parents to decide what age is right for their kids. However, some sex educators recommend that parents start when their children are young, even before they start talking so that they are more comfortable with sexual health from a young age. Other parents wait until their children are around 10 years old because that is either when many children start going through puberty or when some of their peers enter puberty. It’s important to educate your children at an early age. Otherwise, they could receive false information from other sources.
Teaching your teen how to talk with their romantic partners about sex will help them to be more open with their partners. It will also help them understand how to deal with any pressures that may be put on them by romantic partners. If your teen understands what healthy, respectful relationships look like, then they will be better equipped to communicate with their romantic partners.
“Talking with Your Teens About Sex: Going Beyond ‘The Talk.’” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“Raising Healthy Kids: An Asset-Based Check-in For Parents.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
“Talking with Teens About Relationships.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
“Talking to Your Child About Sex.” healthychildren.org
“Talking to Your Kids About STDs.” KidsHealth https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/stds-talk.html
“How to talk to your kids about sex: An age-by-age guide.” Today’s Parent
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.