Tips for Parents
Nervous about having “The Talk”? Here’s some advice…
87% of teens say it would be easier to postpone sexual activity if they were able to have more open, honest conversations with their parents. (The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy)
Why it’s important
As mom and dad, YOU are the example and the biggest influence when it comes to your child’s decision about sexual activity. Making a decision about sex is huge and your kids want your help in navigating the facts, understanding the risks, and hearing your expectations for them. In fact, “87% of teens say it would be easier to postpone sexual activity if they were able to have more open, honest conversations with their parents.” So, what are you waiting for?
Timing is everything!
Begin early. Don’t wait until your child is a teen! We recommend that you don’t think of it as one “big talk” but rather an ongoing conversation. This allows the conversation to continue and be more comfortable for you and your child.
Research has shown many girls are having sex by age 14 and guys as young as 12 in many areas even younger! (Michigan Department of Community Health). It’s more than “the talk” that helps your kids make decisions about sex. Ask them about their values and share yours. Tell them “I love you” every day. They always desire that from you, even if they don’t act like it. Tell them your dating experiences, even if aren’t proud of some of the decisions you made. Your story might help inspire your child to follow your positive choices or save them from getting caught in the same trap. Remember that navigating sexuality has only gotten more tricky these days due to climbing rates of STD’s and the increase of sexuality in the media.
Choose the right place!
Make it a special time with you child-whatever you do, make it private and personable! Remember though that in today’s society, kids are less familiar with the “sit down face-to-face convo in the living room”. Now, we’re not suggesting that you have this conversation via text message, but get creative. Going on a drive, taking a hike, or doing an activity together while chatting will help with the “OMG, my mom and dad are talking about sex and STARING at me!” feeling. Your kids will thank you for it later.
Make a plan!
Don’t try to wing it! Know what basic points you want your child to know ahead of time. You’re going to want the most up-to-date information since new statistics and studies are constantly emerging. Visit our “Tips for Teens” section for medically-accurate information. It may help to obtain some factual materials ahead of time. Facts on the issue change every year. Make sure you’re giving your teen the most correct and up-to-date info. Contact us if you need help with that.
Discussion starters often help. Feel free to discuss hot topics on the issue. A movie, magazine article, or other reference to the topic can be a great ice-breaker and discussion starter. The conversation doesn’t have to be awkward or super serious. Make it fun and interesting and make sure you don’t do all the talking. Ask your child what they’ve seen at school and in TV shows and movies, related to sex or risky behavior. You may even want to choose a scene from movie or TV show to start a conversation about choices and consequences.
Speak your mind!
Remember to share your family values and religious values (if applicable). Let your child know that they are capable of choosing to wait for sex and help them think through the benefits of waiting. This helps your child understand that you have an expectation for them and you’re counting on them.
Remember the only 100% way to not get an STI or have an unplanned pregnancy is to wait and fully AVOID THE RISK!
*The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy