How to Talk to your Teen about Stds

Talking to teens about sex is never easy, talking to teens about sexually transmitted disease (STD) is even harder. It comes down to a way of saying “don’t have sex or you will die” without saying “don’t have sex or you’ll die”. Those talks at best are scare tactics that teens see can see right through. In order for a teen to pay attention to a sex talk, there has to be more to it than simply saying “don’t have sex.”

Timing

Waiting until a teen is already having sex to talk about STDs is playing Russian roulette with their health. No one wants to think their child is having sex, so they believe they can put off the talk indefinitely.  The sad fact is that by 16 most teenagers have had sex at least once. Some start as young as 14. Waiting for the right time might be waiting too long.

Pick a time to have the talk with the teen instead of ambushing them with it. Ask the teen when their schedule is clear enough to sit down and talk for a while uninterrupted. If they feel they have some control over when the conversation happens, they will be more willing to listen.

Build up

Don’t jump directly into talking about sex. It will make both parents and teen uncomfortable and discomfort is not conductive to good communication. Start off with small talk. Talk for a while before bringing up the conversation casually, maybe with a fact about the rates of certain diseases in their home town, or name drop someone they know who has contracted a disease. Ask what they think about it, and what they think could have been done to prevent it. Let them guide the conversation as much as possible.

Details

Give them facts, not scare tactics. Tell them which disease are deadly and which ones are just painful. Tell them how to recognize obvious signs of a disease. Talk about symptoms and survival rates. Don’t try to scare them; just make sure they know what they would be getting into if they were to catch one of the many sexually transmitted diseases there are. Talk about which protections help prevent diseases and what their effectiveness is. Make sure to give them as much useful information as possible, without throwing just a bunch of random numbers at them.

Ask and Answer

Sometimes the easiest way to find out if a teen is sexually active is to just ask them. While many will lie, if a teen has an open honest relationship with their parents without fear of how their parents will react to the knowledge, chances are they will be willing to talk about it more openly. Ask them questions about their lives, and answer any questions they may have.

Talk earlier

It is naive to think that a teen is going to open up to a parent they rarely see and hardly ever talk with. The only way to ensure good communication with teenagers is to have good communication with them while they are kids. A close relationship with caring parents is the first safe guard against dangerous risk taking in teens.

Being a parent isn’t always easy, and talking about things that are uncomfortable is just part of it. The best way to talk to a teen about sex is to talk to the teen about everything else as well. If their parents are active parts of their lives, they will be more willing to listen.