There’s no denying it: As a parent, you are your child’s first sexual health educator. It’s an important role to play. You will instill your kid with facts, values, a healthy outlook, and the ability to make good decisions.
Let’s Talk Month is the time of year when we:
- Encourage parents to talk to their kids about sex
- Help parents know what to say and how to say it
- Prompt a greater conversation about how whole communities can help keep kids healthy
Why Talk About Sex?
Whether your children are 2 or 22, what you say can play a role in how healthy, safe, and responsible they are for the rest of their lives. Talking to your children will help them:
- Appreciate and respect their own bodies
- Protect themselves from peer pressure, abuse, or coercion
- Delay sex until they are older and ready
- Avoid getting pregnant or causing a pregnancy
- Understand your family’s values expectations, and rules
- Tell fact from fiction in the media or locker room
- Talk to doctors, partners, and you about sex, safety, and boundaries
Afraid it will be awkward? It will be. But 87% of teens say they could more easily delay sex if they could have open, honest conversations with their parents about it.
Top Tips for Talking
What you say is largely up to you and what you think is right for your child. Here are some key strategies that can work for all parents:
Tell it like it is. Avoid fables, vague explanations, and untruths when talking about sex and conception.
Talk about humans. Talking only about animals when your child wants to know about people is confusing.
Listen to your child. When your child approaches you with a question or concern, stop and listen. Hold your own immediate reaction (shock, advice, solutions) while you explore what he/she is trying to say.
Give simple explanations. Use appropriate names for parts of the body and body functions. Children need a language to use when talking about their feelings, ideas, and concerns.
Show you're interested. If possible, stop what you're doing, move towards the child, and move to her/his level.
Don't make assumptions. Just because your child is curious about something doesn't mean he or she is doing it.
Be patient. Expect the same questions and concerns to resurface. Younger children have difficulty grasping some information. They often need repeated assurance about the changes they are going through.
Get to know your children's environment. Current jokes, the TV programs they're watching, the websites they visit, their music - these will provide unlimited opportunities to discuss sexuality issues.
Make the first move. Bringing up issues from time to time will give the message that you are interested in discussing sexuality. Your child may put you off ("Oh, Dad!" or "Yuck!") but that doesn't necessarily mean he/she knows it all or doesn't want to talk.
Keep the door open. Let your child know that you are available for other conversations or questions on this topic.
Learn more about talking to your children and other ways to be a strong parent in our For Parents section.