As your child grows into a teen, there are many new things they’ll be learning about. Sex and relationships is a significant topic and it’s one that’s important to cover with your children. While schools will offer some sort of sex education, it’s important to be prepared to answer any additional questions they might have. You should also introduce these topics earlier, so they are prepared for the class in school.
Approaching the Subject
For teens and parents, talking about sex can be a real challenge. You might feel awkward or even embarrassed to open up the dialogue with your teen, hear their questions and answer them honestly and in a helpful way. Nevertheless, it’s important to be open to these discussions so that your teen can be prepared and safe.
An open discussion begins when you start by understanding what your teen already knows. To put this into practice, try asking questions which creates dialogue, rather than a lecture. When they do ask you questions, be sure to answer honestly, rather than with half-truths that you hope will encourage them to put off having sex. It’s better that your teen be informed than in the dark.
Talking About Safe Sex
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Safe sex is a crucial part of sex education and is likely a topic that will be discussed at your teen’s school. Regardless, in your own conversations with your teen, don’t be afraid to be practical and explain to them the different options for birth control and avoiding sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This might seem like an intimate detail to discuss, but teens who are more well-informed are more likely to wait to have sex and practice it safely when they decide they are ready.
Talk Through the Possibilities
Whenever your teen decides they are ready for sex, it’s important that they understand some of the potential outcomes. Don’t resort to scare tactics in an effort to convince them to put off sex longer, but prepare them for some possibilities.
Help your teen understand that birth control isn’t a 100% guarantee. Discuss the possibility of getting pregnant or getting someone else pregnant, and the options at that point.
And while condoms are very effective in preventing STIs, it doesn’t guarantee that one won’t be transmitted. What would your teen do if they got one? Put simply, it’s important for your teen to understand that it’s better to be prepared for all potential circumstances when it comes to sex.
Creating Their Boundaries
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Finally, it’s important to help your teen know how to create and protect their personal boundaries when it comes to sex. Remind your teen that once they become sexually active, they are still allowed to say “no.”
Along the same lines, teach your teen the importance of respecting others’ boundaries too, whether it’s their friends or a romantic partner. Everyone has their own timeline for sexuality, and that should be respected.
Above all else, remember to stay available if your teen has more questions about sex. It isn’t likely that this topic will be one they figure out in one quick sitting. Instead, it’s part of their journey as they grow and learn and is a great opportunity for you to support and guide them.
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