Sex And Relationships
Talking To Teens About Sex and Their Sexuality
Parents - it's our job to talk to our teenagers about sex, and their sexuality.
While sex refers to having sex, sexuality includes a wide range of topics such as the male and female bodies, how they work, human development, reproduction, types of relationships, what makes a relationship healthy or unhealthy, sexual behaviour, and how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Bringing up these topics when talking to your teenager may not always be easy, but everyday life provides lots of opportunities to discuss them in a more comfortable way.
Some such opportunities include when watching a TV show that shows a young person going through puberty or going out on a date, seeing an ad that prompts thoughts about body acceptance, lyrics of songs that refer to sex or relationships and running into a pregnant friend are all occasions that we can use to initiate conversations with our children. These teachable moments occur every day, and can help make the conversation easier and more natural.
When ever we talk to our children, remember that it is very important to give honest, truthful and accurate information that conveys our own values about sex and sexuality. It’s also important to prepare them to make responsible choices whenever they become sexually active.
It might be a bit uncomfortable to begin the conversations, but it gets easier with practice. If we do not talk to our children, someone else might do the job for us and this can lead to several anxious moments for your teen.
It's best to start talking with children about sexuality in early childhood, but if you did not do it then, it is never ever too late to start and pre teen and during the teenage years is a good time to start talking and to keep the conversations going.
Research shows that many teens are more sexually active than parents think and teens have very high rates of sexually transmitted infections.
It is normal that you might feel awkward with the discussion and owning up to that can help relieve the tension. You can admit that to the child by saying, “it’s totally normal that this feels awkward, but I love you and care about you so we need to talk about important things like this.”
In time and with practice, it will get easier. The key is to keep the conversation open and ongoing.
Listening to children is also important and it shows them that we’re interested in and respect what they have to say. We don’t always have to agree with what we hear from them, but it is important to pay attention to what they say.
It can be tempting to jump in and give our point of view, but if we spend some time just listening and asking questions, we help our children learn how to explain their ideas clearly. We also get to know each other even better, and we build trust by showing we really care about their thoughts and feelings.
We can show we understand their point of view by saying things like, “I think I see where you are coming from…” or “I understand what you are feeling and I often felt that way when I was your age, too.”