You probably remember the moment when your mom or dad sat you down for “the talk,” that dreaded, awkward explanation of the birds and the bees. When it comes to discussing sex, it’s not just the adolescent who is in for an uncomfortable conversation – often parents fear this necessary discussion as much as their kids. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re preparing to give your youngsters “the talk.”
1. Are you the right person to do this?
Talking about sex is going to be difficult for everyone involved, and some young people may not react well when a parent tries to sit them down and have the discussion. For this reason, parents may want to back off and ask someone else they trust to give their kids “the talk.” Is there a young, hip aunt or uncle who is informed and could speak to the kids in a more down-to-earth fashion? Perhaps a family friend could give the lowdown on getting down and dirty.
2. Kids these days are often very informed (and misinformed).
Whether you like it or not, sex is a different game in 2012 than it was when you were young. New developments in the world of sex may turn the tables when it comes time to have “the talk,” and you may find that your kids know some stuff about sex that is news to you. While this can be shocking, it’s important not to be judgmental or shut down the conversation. You are there to make sure your kids know how to stay safe during sex, and plugging your ears because your kids know something you don’t will only cause damage.
At the same time, young people can still get lots of misinformation about sex from their peers. This is where you come in. Listen to your kids’ thoughts and questions, and make sure they have accurate information. If they bring up something unfamiliar, tell them you’ll get back to them and do some research with a medical professional on your own.
3. Subtlety can be key.
If you simply can’t bring yourself to sit down with your youngster and tell them about sex, then you may want to take other, less direct routes. For instance, buy some brochures and books about sex, and place them in your youngster’s room with a note telling him or her that you’re available for questions. If you think your teen is sexually active, it’s not a bad idea to leave some protection where he or she will find it. Make sure if you do give the youngster contraception, that you include information about condom facts such as proper usage and storage.
4. Follow up.
Once “the talk” is finally over, you may feel so relieved that you want to run for the hills and never bring up sex again with your kid. This is a bad strategy. The more a young person learns about the world of sex, the more questions he or she will have, and you need to be on hand to give the answers. You may want to develop a code word so your teen can let you know he or she has a sex question on the brain. Putting a question box somewhere in the house is another alternative. This way, your teens can put in questions that are on his or her mind, and your responses can be placed in the same box, much like an in-house mail system.