Tips: Talking About Sex

Talking to Teens about Sex

Where do you begin?Sex is a natural part of life, but it’s not always a comfortable subject to approach with your teens.

So, how do you approach the “big talk” without embarrassment? What do you say? Should you wait? Or just hope for the best? Actually, the best piece of advice we can give you is to make sex an ongoing conversation with your teens. This is one “mystery” you don’t want them solving themselves. Here are some facts, figures, and a few simple guidelines to help you get through it all.

What’s a parent to do? Talk … and, more importantly, listen! Keep the channels of communication open.

You play a big role in how your teen views sex. That’s why it’s important you be there with plenty of understanding and information. Here are a few tips to make this confusing – and pivotal – time in your teen’s life easier on both of you.

  • Encourage conversation. Many teens will never ask about sex, so it’s important you approach them before a crisis arises. Think through your own values about sexuality: What messages do you want to give your children about love, gender roles, pregnancy, etc?
  • Be aware of outside influences. What are they teaching your child at school, church, or youth groups about sexual education? It may provide a springboard for your conversations, and make things go a lot easier.
  • Share your feelings. In addition to giving facts, share your feelings, values, and beliefs about sex.
  • Be sure to tell your child why you feel that way. Telling children the “why” behind values teaches them to think. And when they share their feelings … listen closely.
  • Balance the positives with the negatives. While it’s important your child knows the negative information about sex (i.e., sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and unwanted pregnancy), you should balance your approach with positive information. Tell them sexuality is natural and healthy, and in loving relationships, intimacy can be a wonderful part of adult life.

Okay, so now you know how to talk to your teen. But will he or she go out and have more sex because of it? And what do you say about protection? With all the “false” information out there, you need to have the facts – and nothing but the facts.

  • According to the World Health Organization, there is no evidence that sex education encourages sexual experimentation or increased activity. On the contrary … if any effects of sex education were observed, almost without exception, it is the postponement of sexual intercourse and/or effective use of contraceptives.
  • Abstinence is sure protection against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). But there is no reliable evidence that abstinence-only programs change students’ knowledge, attitudes, or behavior.
  • When used consistently and correctly, a latex condom is the most effective barrier contraceptive available today. However, condom failure is often due to improper use. To help solve this problem, LifeStyles Brand Condoms has introduced Discs with unique packaging that ensures proper use, since every condom is packed right side up for an easy-on, correct fit.
  • The fact is, sex education provides teens with correct information so they can make informed decisions. And, while abstinence is a sure way to prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancy, LifeStyles Brand latex condoms are the best protection if they do decide to have sex.

Friend to Friend: Safer Sex Education

Here’s an excerpt from the book The NEW Teaching Safer Sex, Brick, P. (1998) © Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey.

This group lesson helps promote safer sex education & discussion among friends.

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Condom Education & Talk

Here’s an excerpt from the book The NEW Teaching Safer Sex, Brick, P. (1998) © Copyright Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey. It’s meant to be used as a group lesson to help promote talking about use of condoms with friends and partners.

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