Teenagers are no longer children but not yet adults. They are in a position, however, of making adult decisions regarding drug use, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and whether or not to become sexually active. As a parent, you have an enormous influence on the choices that your teenager will make. When it comes to sex, it is important to make sure that they are well informed.
Ideally, you haven’t waited until your child is a teenager to open the lines of communication about sex. It is important to have many discussions over the years, rather than one “big talk.” Young children should be given accurate information about their bodies and as they mature, they should be kept informed about upcoming changes. Additionally, children need to be comfortable to come to you with questions and know that you will answer them honestly. Many parents find is awkward to talk to their children about sex, but it is important to overcome these reservations since you are your child’s best and most reliable source of information and advice. Uninformed children are at an increased risk of becoming teenage parents or contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Make Them Comfortable
It wasn’t all that long ago when you were a teenager — try to remember what your concerns were and make every attempt to make your conversations about sex easy on your teen. Teenagers will naturally resent what they see as parental interference, but they do need guidance. Most teenagers will not be comfortable to discuss their own sexuality with you –and they most certainly do not want or need any details about your sex life — but the topic of sex must be approached. One way is to cite outside sources as starting points for conversations. Use examples from movies or television shows as a means of jump-starting a discussion about sex and sexual responsibility.
The Birds and the Bees
By the time that they are teenagers, most children have a pretty good idea about the basics of human sexuality. Many schools provide accurate information regarding anatomy and reproduction. If you are not certain that your teenager has the facts, however, be sure to make them available. In order to make responsible choices, teens must be equipped with accurate information. There are many good books available that you can purchase to be sure that your teen has a good idea of the physical side of human sexuality.
Babies and STDs
Although teenagers are usually aware of the basic facts of human reproduction, they are often less aware of the possible consequences of sexual activity. Teenage pregnancy is a real concern for parents, with increasing numbers of young people becoming parents before they are ready. Many teenagers have an unrealistic idea of the responsibilities involved with caring for a baby — they envision a cute, smiling infant but fail to consider all that is involved in raising a child. Be sure to give your teen an accurate idea of child rearing. Teens who have realistic notions are more likely to postpone parenthood until they are mature enough to handle the responsibility.
Sexually active teenagers are not only at risk for an unplanned pregnancy, but also of contracting an STD. Discuss the risks honestly with your teen and if asked, offer advice on safer sex. Be sure to stress that although some forms of sexual expression may not be able to result in pregnancy, they still put your teen at risk for an STD.
When you schedule your teenager’s check-up, ask your doctor to talk about sex, pregnancy and STDs with your teen. If your teenager has established a trusting relationship with the doctor, he/she may be open to their advice and suggestions. Additionally, your teen may be more comfortable discussing his/her personal situation with the doctor than with you.
Morals and Values
It is a good idea to share your morals and values regarding sex with your teenager, but be aware that ultimately, your child must make his/her own choices. When discussing sex with your teen, be sure to cover more than just the physical aspects. Talk about love, self-respect, respect for a partner, emotional maturity, and relationships. It is certainly acceptable to advocate abstinence, but your teen may not choose to honor your wishes. Try to listen to your teenager without passing judgment.