When you talk to teens about values, beliefs, and sexual health decision-making in an ongoing dialogue, it can really impact three significant behaviors that keep teens healthy:
- A commitment, or return, to abstinence
- Reducing the frequency of sex
- Increasing the correct and consistent use of effective methods of contraception.
TO HELP MAKE TALKING ABOUT SEX A LITTLE EASIER FOR FAMILIES, HERE ARE SOME TIPS:
1. BE AVAILABLE
Create a safe space for teens in which their comments, questions, or concerns about sex and sexuality won’t be judged. Make them feel like they can come to you to just talk; they don’t want to feel like they might be lectured or get into trouble.
2. SELF-REFLECT, DON’T PROJECT
Check in with yourself about how you feel. Your feelings and concerns are important, but how you convey them can determine if your teen feels safe and comfortable talking to you.
3. CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY
There are so many choices we can make about the language used to talk about genitalia and sexual activity. Try to use words that teens will relate to while still using medically accurate and anatomically correct terminology. For instance, when a young person says “hooking up,” ask them what that means. It’s important for everyone to be on the same page.
4. MAKE IT A CONTINUOUS CONVERSATION
Having “THE TALK” only once can make it awkward for everyone involved. Talking about sex over many small conversations lets teens feel safer and more likely to come to you with questions.
5. LOOK OUTSIDE THE BOX
Talking about sex does not have to happen at a designated time. Don’t ignore examples from movies, books, or songs. Use them as a prompt for thoughtful discussion.