Don't wait until it's too late to talk to your kids about safe sex.
“Mom, Dad, I’m pregnant,” or “Mom, Dad, I want to take birth control.”
Which sounds scarier? As a parent myself, I know that neither is pleasant to hear; however, based on recent research, parents need to have the talk with their kids, NOW.
The Statistics Don't Lie
Whether you believe that your teen is sexually active or not, the statistics are staggering. The number of teens who are contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and ending up pregnant in the U.S. tells the unfortunate reality. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among United States teens, 41 percent reported having sexual intercourse in 2013. That's nearly half of all teens in the U.S.!
Because you’re reading this article, I know that you're a responsible parent, and what that means is that no matter how uncomfortable it is to even imagine your teen having sex, you will find a way to have the tough talk. What that looks like is up to you. If you’re not the right person for the task, you could ask for help from a counselor, therapist, or a trusted relative.
The point is that the talk must happen. It doesn’t matter who does the sit down discussion, but it has to occur.
In a recent survey, nearly three out of every four teenagers who are sexually active admitted to not using birth control or protection due to fear of parental judgment.
That’s a ridiculously high amount of kids having sex and not protecting themselves! The CDC reports that in 2013, nearly 273,000 babies were born to teens between the ages of 15-19 and that teens and young adults contracted almost half of the new 20 million cases of STDs.
Here’s The Deal: Teens Are Having Sex
And as parents, we need to do our part to keep them safe. You can have the talk in a variety of ways, but these are a few key points you want to get across in the message to your teen:
- Make sure that your teen understands that above anything else (your hopes and dreams, beliefs, or age of your teen), safety is number one.
- Educate your teen about the variety of options they have in order to keep him or her safe.
- Offer to take your teen to a medical doctor and reassure him or her that you will stay in the lobby so your adolescent can have the privacy to ask questions.
Parents often ask at what age the "sex talk" is necessary, and the truth is, that it’s younger than you would imagine. Before I became a helping professional, I was a substitute teacher in a variety of school settings. What I learned from being immersed in the teen culture was that sex and the illusion that everyone was engaging in some sort of sexual activity was great. Peer pressure was not as much of a factor as teens basing their beliefs about sex on what their friends were doing, which shocked me!
As parents, we try to set the example in hopes that our children will look to us and (cross your fingers) follow our lead, but that doesn't often happen. In my practice, I see teens everyday who are sexually active and their parents have no clue. When I host educating seminars for parents to come and learn about teen trends and how to engage with their teen, I am repeatedly surprised when most have not had a sit down chat with their adolescent about how important birth control and using protection is.
Don't Leave Your Blinders On
The take home message is this: Don’t let your feelings or your rose-colored glasses get in the way from possibly preventing something that is potentially catastrophic to your teen’s health and safety.
It’s time to put on your big parent pants and do the work. If you're waiting for them to come to you, then I'm afraid you're more likely to hear the initial admission at the start of this article, or worse, that they've contracted a life-long or life-threatening STD. Parents, don’t wait. Your teen in counting on you.
To receive further coaching on how to have a successful talk about sex and how to keep your teen safe, visit southmetrocounseling.com and complete the free assessment.