When the topic turns to sex, many parents of adolescents balk. According to Sabrina Weill, author of “The Real Truth About Teens And Sex,” parents prepare their teenage children for driving and other major life tasks, but they often keep themselves in the dark about their teenagers’ sex lives. Parents should accept the reality that, even if their teens do not have sex, they need information about sex and sexuality. When parenting teenagers, open communication paves the way for informed, mature young adults.
Approach the topic of sex calmly and without judgment. Your teenager may have lots of questions about sex, or want to know how to handle a difficult situation. Be specific in your answers and in what you expect from the child. For example, if you want your child to wait until a certain age before exploring sex, state that specific age to her.
Keep abreast of your teenage child’s world, particularly in terms of the pop culture he consumes. Watch his television programs and movies, look at his books and magazines, and you will glean ideas about how to approach the topic of sex.
Follow statements with questions. Some parents try to close conversations about sexuality quickly, but teenagers appreciate keeping the topic open. Ask your teenager about general life issues in addition to questions more specifically about sex. Your teenager may alert you to a topic teens face that you can talk about then or revisit later.
Prepare for some challenging statements. Teenagers often shrug off a difficult question rather than answering it. A teen may get defensive or say something shocking. If your teenager says she plans to have sex, your first question may be “Why?” or “Why now?” Take time to listen to her response.
Steel yourself for some tricky topics. Teenagers have questions and need information about all aspects of human sexuality, including methods of birth control, how to use birth control, the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.
Follow up on any unresolved topics or unanswered questions. There is nothing wrong with saying you do not know something, but it is your responsibility to seek out reliable information that answers the question. Share informative books, pamphlets or articles that address your teenager’s questions about sex.