Effective communication with your teen about sex is key. When your teenager talks about sex with you, they are more likely to delay sex and practice safe sex.
Here are effective ways to communicate with your teen about sex:
Prepare yourself to communicate frankly about sex
Minimize any awkwardness when discussing sex with your teen by fully preparing yourself for the conversation. Gather any handouts you want to share, think thorough your answers to common questions, and find a good time to talk.
Discuss your feelings and values as they relate to sex
Your teen needs more than just the facts. They also need to understand your personal beliefs.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of your beliefs beforehand so you can communicate them clearly to your teen.
- Even if you believe in abstinence, you should educate your teen about birth control and STD prevention. This information is vital for your teen’s sexual health, now and in the future.
- Take a moment to ask your teen about their thoughts and beliefs about sex. This can help you understand what your teen has been exposed to through media or friends and what experiences have shaped their ideas about sex. You can guide the conversation based on what you find out.
Help your teen decide if they’re ready for sex
Factors like loneliness, peer pressure, and curiosity can drive teens to early sexual activity. Tell your teen that it is ok to wait if they don’t feel ready, and that there tons of other ways they can experience intimacy with their partner, like kissing, holding hands, and dancing.
Distinguish between healthy and unhealthy relationships
Relationships are intimately connected to sex. When communicating with your teen, tell them about the characteristics of healthy versus unhealthy relationships. Trust, compromise, forgiveness, and respect are key characteristics of healthy relationships.
Discuss the importance of consent
Tell your teen that they should always give verbal consent to any sexual act. If they feel forced or coerced into a sex act, it’s rape, whether the person is a stranger or a partner.
- Emphasize that you can’t give consent when you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- The legal age of consent in most states is 18. In many states younger teens cannot legally consent to sex with someone above this limit even if both partners are okay with it.
- The legal age of consent varies by state, so encourage your teen to look it up and become familiar with local laws. It is also worth looking into laws regarding sending sexual pictures over text or email, which can be considered child pornography.