When should you talk to your children about sex and what is the best approach?
By Matthew Hoffman
It may be easy for some parents to find excuses for postponing the "big talk" about sex with their children. Some don't want to sound as if they're condoning premarital sex. Others wait for their children to bring up the topic. And many are simply uncomfortable talking about sex because their parents never discussed sex with them.
In this age when sexual images seem to be everywhere, children and teenagers want to know more about sex, but not just because they are planning to become sexually active.
Teenagers are also caught up in some frightening trends. Sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers are on the rise. And although the teen pregnancy rate has dropped, about 750,000 teens get pregnant each year.
Postponing the talk won't keep your children away from sex. When they don't hear about sex from their parents, teenagers get information from other, often unreliable sources, including friends, magazines, advertising, television, the Internet and movies. Having the right information can help teens understand the risks, grapple with the emotional and physical changes of puberty and deal with peer pressure.
Sex Is Just Part Of The Discussion
Don't think about the big talk as a one-time deal. Experts recommend that parents talk to their children about sex long before the teenage years and not in a single conversation, but by working it into the natural flow of daily conversation. Be sure to include all of the emotional and social issues that surround sex.
Remember: The things that happen before a teenager has sexual relations are far more important than the sex itself. These include dating and relationships, caring for other people, and developing moral values. Parents can help teenagers understand that intercourse is just one part of a vast experience that makes up human sexuality.
Talking just about sex disregards the entire social process. Teenagers need to be thinking about why they want to participate in certain types of behavior or how to respond when their partners are pressuring them to have sex.
What To Say When
Studies have shown that children who feel they can talk to their parents about sex are less likely to engage in high-risk sexual behavior than those whose parents keep silent. The more information you give your children about dating and sexual behavior, the better equipped they'll be to make informed decisions. Here are the top seven things you can do to reduce embarrassment and ensure your children get all the information they need:
Teenagers have to understand what the risks really are. Two-thirds of teen moms never finish high school. Teen parents who get married are more likely to get divorced, and teenage moms are more likely to go on welfare. The more accurate information you give teenagers, the better able they'll be to make informed decisions.
Remember, start by having a healthy relationship with your child. Include this discussion, along with others. Set family expectations and be consistent. Be "proactive" and offer accurate information.