Tips For Parents When Talking to Their Kids About Sex
Be clear about your own sexual values and attitudes.
It will be far more difficult for you to approach the topic of sex with your child if you do not have a clear understanding of your own attitudes toward sex, love and feelings. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you really think about children and teens having sex, and putting themselves at risk for becoming parents or contracting STIs?
- Who is responsible for setting sexual limits in a relationship? Does this always work?
- Were you sexually active as a teenager or before you were married? What will you say to your own children if asked about that now?
- How do you feel about guiding your child toward sexual abstinence until marriage?
Learn to listen.
Chances are your child will be nervous when they approach you about sex. Be sure they feel like they are really being listened to. Make them feel comfortable and let them open up. Often parents take this opportunity to preach or moralize which will eventually cut off communication completely. Be sure to have a two-way conversation and not a one-way lecture.
Look for opportunities to talk to your children early about sex, be specific and talk often.
Kids may not always come to you. Use opportunities such as seeing something in a movie, newspaper, book, something a friend is experiencing. Start the discussion by being open, honest, and respectful. And know that this is not the only conversation you'll have on this topic. Parents and kids should be talking about sex and love all through the child's development. If you have regular conversations, you won't be so worried about saying the wrong thing or answering a question clumsily, because you'll always be able to talk again.
Be completely open so your child feels comfortable expressing all feelings.
Let your child know you will not get angry about anything they ask. If your child has an opinion about sex that is different from yours, listen to what they have to say. This "opinion" may just be part of the sorting out process for your child. Either agree with your child and give them that affirmation, or explain to them why you have a different point of view.
Avoid over or under answering questions.
Children will ask direct questions, so give them direct answers. If you don't know the answer, tell them you will find out. Think about the question and decide how much to elaborate. Questions about attitudes or values may need extra attention. Here you may want to take time to explain your own values and where those came from. Establish trust so your child feels comfortable asking all that they need. Never make them feel like you will jump to conclusions about their sexual behavior based on what they are asking.
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