March is “National Talk to Your Teen About Sex Month.” While the month is closing fast, talking about sex with your teen is a critical conversation to have—no matter the time of year.
Talk to Your Teen About Sex All-Year-Round
Talking about sex is embarrassing for both parents and their teenagers. Parents are sometimes unsure of how sexually active their kids really are, while teenagers are almost always uncomfortable talking about their sexual activity with anyone other than their friends or partner.
But after the first sex talk, and as teens grow older, parents and teens may find it less awkward to talk about sex. This is why it’s so important to start a sexual health conversation early, hopefully before your teen is sexually active.
Teens Are Not Clueless
Sexual education varies in schools, depending on the state and the school system, but it predominantly starts at some point during the 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th grade. Most schools teach abstinence, common birth control methods, and STI dangers before students enter high school. This means that your teen, no matter how little you think they know, have had some lessons on sexual health.
While sex education in schools is necessary and very beneficial, parents also have to play a large role in their teen’s sexual health. Parents can further explain to their sons and daughters the choices they have when it comes to having sex, and preventing pregnancy and STIs.
Here are some sexual health talking tips from Parent Further.
How to Talk About Sex With Your Teen
Ask your teen if he or she is sexually active. Tell them that you won’t punish or judge them for anything they’ve done—you just want them to be safe.
If your teen is not sexually active, try asking the following questions:
- Why are you interested in having sex?
- Are you feeling pressured? Are you pressuring someone else?
- Are you afraid of losing a boyfriend or girlfriend if you don’t?
- Are many of your friends having sex?
- Are you willing to take or use birth control when you start having sex?
- Do you know your options when it comes to birth control (condoms, birth control pill, shot, etc.)?
- Do you understand the risks involved in teen sexual activity?
- Do you know how to prevent STIs?
Your teens will probably have follow-up questions. If they ask you something about sex that you don't know the answer to, seek help on the Internet (see sources below), or take a trip to the doctor together.
If your teen is sexually active, make sure to calmly discuss his or her options and precautions.
- Do not punish your teen, but explain that abstinence is an option, and the only form of birth control that 100% prevents pregnancy.
- If your teen is not using a form of birth control, make sure they start immediately. Many forms of birth control are covered by basic insurance.
- All teen girls should visit a gynecologist when they first become sexually active (if they have never seen one before), who can offer professional, reliable medical advice and further explain birth control options.
- If your teen has not been protecting themselves against STIs (not using condoms), make sure he or she gets tested for STIs (often done at the gynecologist).
- Make sure your teen knows they never have to be sexually active if they don’t want to be. Discuss the dangers of sexual violence.
- Emphasize the fact that you can get an STI or get pregnant after only having sex once. Explain the serious consequence of "casual sex."
Most importantly, stay connected with your teen, whether or not they are sexually active. Teens will open up to their parents if they know they are not being condemned for their actions. Parents must build up a trust with their teenager, so if anything ever goes wrong, their teen will come to them first. Concentrate on helping your teen make good, well-informed decisions.