Just in time for Let's Talk Month, SHIFT NC is launching Prepared: A Parent's Guide to Teen Relationships, an online tool to help parents of younger teens navigate changing conversations about relationships, sexual health, and safety. Designed for parents of 13- to 15-year-olds, Prepared is designed to help guide “The Birds and the Bees: Part 2.”
SHIFT NC worked with more than 100 North Carolina parents to develop Prepared, and built the tool to respond to needs and sticking points identified by real parents.
Prepared navigates parents through a “choose your own adventure” discussion about relationships and sexual health. Easily accessed on a smart phone or computer, this tool is a pocket guide for sometimes-awkward conversations.
Prepared offers solutions for all types of parents: it includes conversation starters for those who are nervous to talk to their teen about relationships to those who are ready to talk about everything but just need a little guidance. Prepared also helps parents access information to deliver the message they want, whether it’s about abstinence, birth control, relationships, or something else.
Why It Matters
Research shows that parents are a really powerful influence on their teens - and that talking about sex is a great way to help teens be and stay healthy. Often times, though, parents worry that teens will interpret talking about sex as permission to have sex - when the opposite is true.
- Teens say that parents are their #1 influence when it comes to decisions about sex and relationships - more than friends or the media.
- Nine out of 10 teens say it would be easier to delay sex if they could have more open, honest conversations with their parents about these topics.
Why Younger Teens?
Prepared is aimed at supporting the “next” round of conversations about sexual health – the ones that come after “where babies come from” but before they’re too far into the teen years. Our background research process showed that these years were critical for setting the tone for healthy, productive conversations before they get too intense later in the teen years. We found that parents WANT to talk about sex and they KNOW it’s important, but they get stuck in a few places:
- They feel AWKWARD
- They aren’t sure what’s AGE-APPROPRIATE
- They are worried their teen won’t LISTEN or that they won’t CONNECT
Prepared tackles these sticking points by providing words of encouragement and age-appropriate talking points.
Funding for Prepared was provided by Cone Health Foundation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through grant opportunity DP00614115. SHIFT NC is deeply appreciative of their contributions.
Thanks to the team at BCDC Ideas for helping develop Prepared! Thanks also to the 100+ parents who gave input and feedback throughout the development process.