Let’s talk about sex, or maybe not, teens are saying. A recent study has shown that teens want to talk about sex with their parents more than their parents want to.
Just over 50% of mums and dads express some level of unease at having the sex talk, compared to 82% of teens. So it looks like parents are far from alone in their discomfort.
However, with such an important topic, how do we get our teens to open up and talk about it with us.
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Here are my top tips.
1. Don’t make the sex talk a big deal; anyone is bound to run away from this. Sex should be a conversation that runs through your child’s life rather than one talk in the teen years. Answer any question as honesty and age-appropriately as you can, whenever your child asks, so you both get comfortable talking about it.
2. Be honest – Let your child know that you feel uncomfortable talking about this and you know that they may too, but it is a conversation that you need to have and continue to have. Ask them how they want to learn about sex. Do they want to talk with you, read a book, or watch a programme? How do they most feel comfortable learning what they need to know? Honour what they say but make sure you also talk with them. Also learn what they are being taught at school, so you can support that learning at home.
3. When topics come up around things sexual and relationship-based in the media, use them as a jumping-off platform to start conversations. The recent infidelity of Kristen Stewart could have started a great conversation about sexual promiscuity and cheating and what their thoughts are about sex and relationships.
4. Remember, this is about teaching your children about relationships, not solely about sex. I think we sometimes forget that. Asking questions like, “Do you think sex ruins a relationship?” “Do you think sex changes a relationship?” are great conversations to start in your home.
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5. Don’t try and be smart by knowing all the “in” language and all the hip happenings in the world of sex and relationships. This is bound to put yor child off. When talking to them use the “correct” language rather than slang or discrete terms. Use factual information as much as you possibly can.
6. Share only what you feel comfortable with and if you don’t want to share certain pieces of information with your child then don’t. Let them know you don’t feel comfortable sharing that information; let them know some things are private and in turn honour their privacy. Don’t make them tell you information that they don’t want to share.
7. And finally, share with them any concerns you have in an open and non-judgemental way and give them time to respond. Let them know what frightens you most; you may be surprised what they say in return to put your mind at rest.