Let’s Talk About Sex
How to discuss the birds and the bees with the kids in your life.
Few things are as scary for parents as discussing sex or anything related to sex with their kids. But studies show that kids who have a close relationship with their parents and whose parents convey their own consistent values about sex, are more likely to make responsible choices. (Read about how the Kardashian family set a surprisingly good example on this topic, here.) So below are a few tips for initiating and maintaining a dialogue with the young people you know about making healthy sexual choices.
[Also Read: Why Are Grown People Still Having 'Secret Sex'?]
- Start early: Though many parents may be intimidated by the thought of having one big “Birds and the Bees Talk” with their kids, talks about sexuality should actually be ongoing throughout a child’s life, beginning with teaching them the names of different parts of his or her anatomy when they reach an age where they begin to ask questions about them. By age nineteen 70% of teens have already had sex so you don’t want to wait too long.
- Watch what they are watching: A 2006 study found that teens exposed to sexual content in the media are more likely to engage in sexual activity. This means that it is particularly important for parents to know what content their kids are consuming. Watching programming with kids can also present an opportunity to begin discussions about sexual behaviors exhibited in media. Sex in the movies and on tv is often presented as risk-free. (When was the last time you heard two characters getting hot and heavy in a movie mention the word “condom?”) When characters in programming you watch with your kids make questionable sexual choices, it can present a perfect opportunity for a teachable moment; one that may be slightly less awkward than having to say the words, “It’s time for us to have a talk.”
- Ask lots of questions: Some well meaning parents think the “Sex Talk,” really is just that: a parent presenting a brief lecture that lays out the mechanics of sex, but most teens will already have their own ideas about how sex may or may not work culled from their peers, the internet or Hollywood. So instead of saying, “I want to tell you about…” Asking, “What have you heard about…?” might be a more helpful starting point to move the conversation along. Another helpful question to ask: “Do you feel like I answered your questions?”
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