Young people need information from an adult they trust. Start the conversation with your child today.
Talk early and often.
Start having conversations about your values and expectations while your child is young. Your child will get used to sharing information and opinions with you. This will make it easier for you to keep talking as your child gets older.
There’s more than one way to talk to kids about sex. Try having lots of little conversations about sex instead of one big talk. And remember, if you’ve been putting it off, it’s never too late to start a conversation about sex.
Try these communication tips the next time you talk with your child about sex.
Try not to give your kids too much information at one time. Give them time between conversations to think. They may come back later and ask questions.
Be ready to answer questions.
When your kids ask you questions, ask them what they think first. Their answers will tell you more about what they are asking and why. This will also give you time to think about your answer.
Do your best to answer questions honestly and correctly. If you don’t know the answer to a question, you could say, “I’m not sure. Let’s look that up together.”
Keep in mind that kids get information about sex from lots of different sources – like friends, the Internet, and TV. This can be confusing for your child. That’s another reason why it’s important for you to answer questions clearly.
Give your kids time and space to talk about their feelings and thoughts. Ask for their opinions. Be sure to listen, even if your child has an opinion you don’t like.
Try asking questions like:
- When do you think it’s okay to start dating?
- Have you talked about puberty or sex in school? Do you have any questions?
- When do you think a person is ready to have sex?
Always take your child’s values and opinions seriously. This will show that you respect what your child has to say and it can help your child feel more comfortable talking to you.
Practice active listening.
Active listening is a way to show your kids that you are paying attention and trying to understand their thoughts and feelings. Try these tips:
- Nod your head.
- Repeat back what your child says in your own words. For example, “So you are feeling frustrated with our rules. You feel that you are old enough to make your own decisions.”
Get more listening tips for parents.
Use examples to start a conversation.
Young people see and hear messages about sex every day on TV, in music, and online. Use an example from a TV show or song to start the conversation.
Talk in the car or in the kitchen.
It can sometimes be easier to talk about sex if you are doing something else at the same time. Try asking a question when you are driving in the car or busy cooking dinner.
You can still show your child that you are listening by nodding your head or repeating what your child says to you.
It’s okay to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. Be honest with your child about how you are feeling. Remember, when you are honest with your child, your child is more likely to be honest with you.
Talk with other parents.
Remember that you are not the only parent thinking about how to talk to kids about sex. Ask other parents how it’s going for them. You may be able to get useful tips and ideas.
Talking to parents is also a great way to learn more about the messages other kids are getting about sex.