Constructive sex talk with your teenager: Just the thought of writing on this topic. Makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable. Nothing wrong with feeling so. Because we are programmed to avoid sensitive issues or topics. And talk about sex education is right on top.
There are very few topics that has potential to make parents uncomfortable. And having a constructive sex talk with your teenager one such.
It is not only uncomfortable for the parents but also for the children. I feel it is more prominent when the parent who is addressing this topic to the children is of the opposite sex.
I cannot even begin to tell you the number of times my sons have literally vanished from there sports when Search a topic comes up on the table.
Not that they are not curious about it, but the uncomfortableness is so high that they rather be curious then talk about it.
So, what do we do? Do we drop the topic? Should we let our kids know from other sources?. Wait for schools to take this up if possible? What next?
- Why talk about sex with your child?
- When to start talking about sex with your child?
- Things to watch out for before & during sex talk with your teenager
- How to have constructive sex talk with your teenagers?
- Things you must not do while having sex talk with your teenager
- Note to Parents
While all the uncomfortableness is there, parents need to work to overcome their own anxieties and have a constructive sex talk with your teenager.
We need to focus on educating our children by encouraging young women and men to speak openly about their concerns regarding sex.
Parents have the power to help alleviate concerns and correct misconceptions.
Having a constructive sex talk with your teenager is not a one-time affair.
The talk about sex must evolve to cover different topics. Right from knowing when to get ready for sex, to safe sex, gender, sexuality, and diseases related to sex.
Just as insisting on the importance of healthy habits like eating well and exercising can have a permanent impact on children’s physical health, the same can be said about sexual health.
Communicating accurate information and letting children know that you are open to their questions. When we address concerns can help them move toward healthy intimate relationships throughout their teens and into adulthood.
For the physical and emotional health of their children, it is important that parents initiate conversations of intimacy and sex talk with your teenager.
And when we provide them with accurate information or access to resources where children can ask questions and obtain the data, they need it brings about a lifelong impact.
You can only go about talking to your child if your teen is receptive to you. If you do not have a strong emotional connection with your teenager then it is highly unlikely that you will get benefits from your attempt to educate your child about sex.
If you are facing this problem and you would like to know more about how to build an emotional connection with your teenager do read or article How-To Easily build Emotional Connection with your Teenager.
Why talk about sexuality with your child?
Why this, what is this, what does this mean … There is an age when the child begins to ask questions. And the field of sexuality and intimacy is not widely talked about!
So, it is common for per teens and sometimes teens to have doubts. such as “Why do girls have no dick?” to “what is homosexual?” going through “when I grow up will I have breasts?”.
Children’s questions about sexuality often surprise parents. Some might even be worried and wonder about the questions and doubts their teenager has at such a young age.
And this desire to know, this unexpected curiosity, often continues until middle or even high school, especially if the child who has become a teenager has not received the answers to their questions.
It is therefore better to try to answer it, with the right words for the age of the child. Rather than leaving your teen alone with their questions. This will make the kid deem the topic as “shameful” and taboo, since no one desires to answer them.
Sex education has many aspects. It affects gender identity (female and male) and relationships with others. It influences the image the child has of themself, on their approach to intimacy and on their emotional relationships with others.
When to start talking about sex with your child?
Talk about sex needs to start at a very early age. But the dept of the talk will vary as per child’s age and maturity.
It is advised that parents speak to their kid right when they are toddlers and pre-schoolers on topic about good touch, bad touch, and private parts.
At around 7+ years basis physical developmental signs shown by your school goer and the questions they ask. Talks about puberty and what to expect and how to prepare is done.
When your kid is a pre-teen and entering teenage, they would be used to having talks in these topics occasionally with you. This help you to better engage with your teen and have much more serious conversations about sex and intimacy.
If for some reason you have missed out on the built up mentioned above and now you have a teenager at hand, and you like to have a sex education conversation with your kid. Do read on. On how to start a conversation, sustain it and put your point forward.
How to start the topic:
Starting a discussion is the difficult part. Your teen may feel uncomfortable at first. And you will have to do all the leading.
So, we have outlined few ways how you can start a topic with your teen.
Some conversation starters
I have listed below few of the conversation starts that has helped me with my kids.
- Start the discussion with news or a book. Occasionally you do hear of news on sexual abuse or related topics. Use that as a reason to start the conversation.
- You can also derive the situation from a video or a movie. Recently there was one movie on a court battle seeking justice on behalf of child abuse victim. This was a good conversation starter for me and my daughter.
- When advertisement of AIDS awareness, or condoms, or menstrual pads are shown. They were good conversation starts for me. Just a simple “what do you know about this?” Is good line to open a conversation.
- Other ways are to bring up the subject from a song’s lyrics, or event in class (sex ed class), when topics come up in your kid’s surroundings or neighborhood.
Things to watch out for before & during sex talk with your teenager
Choose the right moment
You need to choose the right moment carefully. Do not start such serios and important topic when you are in a hurry or your teen is in a hurry to go out or attend to something.
Make sure that your teenager is also relaxed, and you also have solid time at your disposal.
It is preferable to have one-on -one conversations. Even if there is a sibling around to disturb this can make the whole conversation go out of hand and dilute the message.
Ensure there are no disturbances during these conversations. It is best to keep mobile phones on silent.
Choose the right location
Ensure that the conversation is taking place in the right location. A crowded place might make it uncomfortable both for you and for your child.
These conversations are best when It happens one on one and in the comfort of a familiar place like your home.
For my elder son one of the places where we were comfortable to start such conversation was when I was dropping him to school or picking him up.
It us a one on one time, with no interruptions and the perfect excuse to avoid eye contact.
Choose the tone:
The parents talk with teens in a friendly tone.
If they can speak in a serene and calm way, the experience will be more comfortable for everyone.
Giggle with them if they giggle to break ice and make it light and conversational with lot of examples (pref. examples from your own life). When you start the conversation to ease into the topic.
But do not lose the seriousness of the topics and put your points across.
But do not talk to them like you would to a young child. It is a serious topic so some level of adult to adult conversation style is needed.
You are their parents, not their friends.
Use the right words:
Words are important. When talking to your child, use the exact words to identify the body parts.
For example, remind her to wash her arms, legs and vulva or penis well.
Thus, your kid gets to know all the parts of her body, including their genitals, without them being taboos.
And your kid accepts them as natural part of the body and no shame in talking about it like hands, legs, and nose.
Similarly, Use the effective and appropriate terminologies to talk with your teens about sex.
Accept and respect the discomfort:
Be honest about how you feel. For example, if you are embarrassed or uncomfortable, it is okay to tell them.
But do tell them that this is important and hence you would like to have a conversation with them.
While having these conversations with your teenager do watch out for their reactions. If you find them disengaged or uncomfortable it is OK to pause and bring it up another day.
This usually happens when such talks abruptly come up when your kid is well into teens and not while the child is growing.
How to have constructive sex talk with your teenagers?
Parents must be overcome own shame. Not talking about sex with children is a true negligence that will have consequences in real life.
And I can tell from experience that the initial first, second or third conversations are the hardest.
Where parent would be more uncomfortable, and your child will be in a state of uncomfortable shock.
But when such talks become part of any other conversation it gets easier.
Talk about sex early and often in small doses. You do not have to tell them everything in one conversation.
I also felt that it is easy from a parent belonging to the same sex of the teenager is having the talk by the teen. If you are a father and have a teen son dont miss out in reading our article How-To deal with teen sons – A father’s perspective.
Although each case is unique, the following ways will help you talk about sex with a teenager.
Keep in mind that teens at this stage in life have problems and needs.
Introducing bans or threats can be harmful, so try to maintain an open dialogue. Follow the constructive sex talk techniques with your teens.
Encourage them to talk to you:
Establish a relationship of trust with your child to allow them to ask questions and talk to you about their concerns.
Put yourself in his place and do not judge him. If necessary, ask him questions when the opportunity arises to encourage him to talk to you: “How are you feeling?” “, “What do you think?” Or “What do you know about this subject? “By talking to him in this way, your child will have been encouraged to turn to you when he has questions.
Be well read and knowledgeable enough to address and reply to all your children questions.
If you are faced with the situation where you are not sure about the answer or you need time to think. It is okay to tell them that you are unsure, and you will get back to them. Rather than giving them hasty or worse, incorrect response.
Do not forget to get back to them once you have your answers and use the question, they had asked you as a conversation starter.
Remind them that they can talk to you with confidence. And when they see or hear something that makes them uncomfortable, whether at home, at school or on the Internet you are there to help them.
As much as possible, plan a time each day when you are calm and fully attentive to what your child may have to say, regardless of the subject.
This will help them deal with any sort of anxiety that they might have when then know you have their back. While we are on the topic of anxiety it will do you good if you read our article How-To SPOT & DEAL with Teenage Anxiety Issues for your consumption.
Encourage your children to intervene. Also listen to the thoughts and doubts of the teens, so that you bet more insights of what your teen thoughts and ideas are. And what worries them.
Empower your child:
Parents must be developing confidence in your teens to talk openly in every topic.
Encourage individuality, providing positive role models, speak appreciatively of gender diversity.
Such non-judgmental hearing and empowering your kid to talk openly about these topics will also help in developing self confidence in your child.
To know more on ways to develop self-confidence read are informative article How to develop self-confidence in your teenager
Answer all questions and concerns:
When talking to a teenager about sex, you should ignore taboos and politically incorrect words.
If your teen has questions, answer openly and honestly without judging him or her.
In this way, your information becomes a benchmark. The teenager will of course also seek information on their own, but it is always good for him or her to have an adult to talk to.
Things you must not do when you are having sex talk with your teenager
Make general statements:
Do not personalize on your child’s outlook or incident, so as not to attack them directly.
Assuming you caught your kid watching pornography on your phone.
This incident will warrant a discussion with your teenager. While you would have addressed the issue and made a progressive plan forward.
It is best not to quote it or brand your child to be someone who seeks pornography.
Such general statements will only make your child more defensive and your child will not be willing to talk to you about this.
Do not be hasty to respond
We are also humans. And we may not have all the answers for the questions that our teenagers ask.
In some instances, they can throw a curveball at you that might make you want to stop a new track and think on what is right or wrong in the situation.
Whenever you confronted with situations that you are unsure of or need further clarification or information, it is OK to pause the conversation. Take time to get back to your child. Do not be in a haste to respond and close the topic with your child.
Overload with information
Give details and information on sex education which is appropriate for the age your child is in.
Sometimes you might find that your child may not be a teenager but have knowledge or be curious to know about this more.
On the contrary you might have a teenager who is not mature enough or showing interest in this topic.
So, the amount of information that you try to give to your child moderate it as per your child’s age, development, and maturity.
Overloading your child with information can sometimes make your child anxious and worry about these topics.
Do not be judgmental and react
Sometimes during a conversation. When your teen opens to you. You might see them spill the beans on things that might be horrific to you. (I had one such episode. So, trust me on this one.)
The key here is to swallow your anxiety, keep a straight face and hear them out. If need to probe and explore further to the level, your teen is willing to corporate.
Do not be judgemental or react when they are expressing their point or opinion or something that they have done.
Nothing can kill a conversation more when you judge the person who is trusting and talking to you and reacting to them.
Do Not be ill prepared for the conversation
Sex education is a serious an important topic to have with your children. So as parents read about the topic, so you are aware of it.
Prepare yourself on how you will address this topic or how you are going to talk to your teen about it.
You need not plan to the last ‘T’.
If you have a broad outline on what you will talk and what topics you will cover it is good enough.
There is nothing most silly than having a teen interested in the topic and you are all around the place and do not know how to land it.
Note to parents
If parents do not teach their children about sexuality, they will learn it from other source. (Not necessarily the right and correct way).
Children’s exposure to information about sexuality begins much earlier than many parents imagine.
By not talking about sexuality with their children, parents will have little control over what they learn about it and how they learn it.
What a child learns from friends, school and social media will be piecemeal and perhaps wrong. It can be humiliating and even dangerous.
Although the media cover a profusion of sex and sexuality, the cover often shows sensationalism and lightness.
The realistic depictions of intimate relationships and sexuality are not portrayed.
Too often, the realities surrounding sex and sexuality appear without context or without an emotional or relational component.
In addition, the risks associated with sexual activity are often minimized in the media.
There is less risk of giving sex education than not.
Studies show that the more children are exposed to sexual representations in the media, the more likely they are to engage in sexual behavior.
In fact, children who receive sex education at home are less likely to engage in risky sexual activity.
Having frank discussions with children about sexuality and other issues is healthy and less risky in the long run.
This does not necessarily mean that it will always be easy or smooth.
Teens remain very reserved people. But talking to teens about sexuality issues early increases the likelihood that they will consult their parents when they are faced with difficult or dangerous situations.
And we as parent will be there to help them and defend them should needed and protect them and aid them to blossom into a balanced, happy, and healthy adult.
However, I am a mother growing 3 kids. Am a concerned parent.
I like to share my knowledge with the hope that it will be help to someone
somewhere and make a difference to a very worried parent.
I have written this article, basis my experience, my talk with experts in this line and research on this topic. Also, I have implemented it in my life with my kids.
I like to emphasize that this is only for knowledge sharing and information purpose.
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If you are feeling concerned and worried about your kid. Your instinct tells you to be concerned.
As a parent to parent. I would say trust your instinct. No one knows better than you as a parent to your child. It is best to reach out to a qualified practitioner to address your concern.
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