It is normal for teenagers to be curious about their sexuality and the act of having sex. They may have strong thoughts and feelings about the topic and many questions left unasked. As a parent, it is important to keep in mind that you can impact how your teen understands these topics. Teens need support and guidance from adults who want the best for them. Discussing sex-related topics, protection, and prevention from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy with your teen not only educates your teen but increases the quality of communication you have with your young adult.
When it comes to having “the talk,” it is essential that conversation focuses on more than just the consequences of risky behavior. Your teenager has already taken or will take required health education classes that focus on these consequences. The role of a parent includes discussing topics that these health education classes may not touch on, such as how to have healthy and respectful relationships. You may also want to set expectations for your teen regarding what you would like them to do or not do. How you decide to go about “the talk” is up to you.
Why Is It Important to Talk to My Teen About Sex?
Talking with teens about sex makes a difference. With new-age technology and social media, many teens are exposed to references and content about sex in various ways. While your teen learns to navigate through their social circles, they may feel embarrassed to ask their classmates or friends questions. Therefore, it is crucial that parents open up communication with their teens to have a safe place to ask questions without feeling embarrassed or judged. When your teen has an outlet to share their understandings and questions about sex, you will likely find that your teen will honor and respect your values and beliefs about such topics.
Setting Expectations and Boundaries with Your Teen
As a parent, it is essential to communicate your values and expectations regarding your teen becoming sexually active. Setting boundaries not only keep your teenager safe, but it allows your teen to reconsider or perhaps avoid risky situations that they may find themself in from time to time. Consider asking yourself the following questions when setting boundaries for your teen:
- At what age or situation do I think it would be acceptable for my teenager to have sex?
- Do I want my teenager to be in a committed relationship or married first?
- Do I want my teenager to graduate from high school before engaging in sexual acts?
- How long should my teen be allowed to spend with other teens without an adult present?
- Should my teenager have friends that are much older than them?
- Would I feel more comfortable meeting the parents of my teenager’s friend?
- What curfew should I give my teen?
How Do I Initiate Sexual Conversations With My Teen?
Based on the age or maturity of your teenager, you may be able to initiate a conversation by simply asking what they know about sex. You can explain that you may or may not have talked with your parents about sex when you were a young teenager and believe it is time to talk with your teen. During the discussion, try to highlight the reasons why talking about sex is so important. You may want to educate your teen that by having open conversations about sex, your teenager will be more educated about:
- How to practice safe sex when they are ready
- How to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and infections
- How to get tested for STD’s and STI’s if they may have had unprotected sex
- Your personal expectations about age and maturity in regards to having sex
- How to speak honestly and openly with you as a parent, even during difficult conversations
- The consequences of teen pregnancy
- Their understanding of sex and sexuality
- Preventative measures such as condom use or birth control
Another suggestion to consider when talking to your teen about sex is to keep the conversation going even when they become sexually active. Try to share your feelings about it honestly, but also try to hear your teenager out. Regardless if you agree with what they have done, you must remind your teen to take sex and the associated responsibilities as seriously as possible. Continue to stress the importance of safe sex and consider their options for birth control contraception. With parent support, your teen will be able to develop into a sexually responsible adult, eager to ask questions and promote a healthier lifestyle for themself.
Talking with your teenager about sex can seem like a challenging task but is essential for their own understanding of sex and development. While required health education classes touch on the consequences of sex, there are many important topics that these courses do not touch on. Topics like sexuality, STD and STI prevention, pregnancy, and safer sex should be discussed with a trusted adult. Talking with your teen about sex enhances communication and creates a safe space for your teen to ask questions as they learn about sex-related topics. Setting expectations and boundaries, sharing your own beliefs and values about sex, and initiating conversation is crucial for your teen’s overall development. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center understands how important these conversations can be for your teen. We work with troubled teenagers to transform unhealthy behaviors and emotions by helping them find fulfillment in their maturity. Call us today at (303) 443-3343.