Reader writes: Talk with your child about sex

October 25, 2013 

Let’s talk about sex

One of the most challenging jobs as a parent is talking with your child about sex. Most parents are intimidated about talking with their child because they are uncomfortable with the topic and concerned it will encourage sexual activity.

But you should know that parents are the most influential people in a child’s life. While we know that what we do speaks louder than words, when you find those teachable moments to start conversations with your teen, you can actually reinforce your values, encourage abstinence and keep those lines of communication open. You can even use everyday news stories or movies to start conversations.

When you are talking with your teen, be honest; it’s OK to let him or her know you might be uncomfortable with the topic but that it is important enough that you want your teen to ask questions. Be honest about your feelings, values and ideas, but don’t do it in a way that comes across as preaching. Allow your teen to talk without interruption. Control your reactions to what he or she might say and refrain from arguing. At all times, be respectful. You might not cover everything you want to cover in one conversation, but if you keep the lines of communication open, you can let your child know that you are there for his or her questions and for further discussions.

Also remember that even younger children are curious about sex. You do not have to give all of the details all at once. Give enough information to satisfy their curiosity and answer what they ask you in an age-appropriate manner. As they get older, you can research the current statistics so you are providing accurate information and you can provide them additional literature or printouts so that they can read more on their own as well. But don’t ever let the written information take the place of your communication with your child – that is what is MOST important.

Susan Kelly

Chairwoman, Johnston County Coalition on Adolescent Pregnancy

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