Parenting Teens

Accept your own sexuality first. Most parents undoubtedly get very nervous when it comes to discussing sexuality with their teens, but this is probably because adults are not yet comfortable with their own sexuality – let alone comfortable with accepting their children’s. Humans are sexual beings. In fact, sex is necessary for our survival. If parents come across as confident and comfortable with, as well as knowledgeable about, sexuality, children will pick up on these cues and be much more likely to open up.

Start early. While the conversations will not sound the same, parents should address their children’s sexuality early. What they choose to discuss is a personal decision, but the birth of a second child is a great opportunity to discuss the basics of sexuality with an older brother or sister, for instance. Children become sexually active at increasingly younger ages, but they will be less likely to make poor decisions if they are well-informed, including knowledge about where they can go for answers.

Get help. Utilize a book or pamphlet to initiate the conversation. There are numerous options to choose from depending on the age of the children and the topic to be discussed, whether it is puberty or healthy sexuality. Not only will the materials make you more knowledgeable, but they will be something you can give your child ahead of time. For instance, leave a book on your son’s bed with a note suggesting he read the book and letting him know that you will visit with him about it later. At that time, also take the opportunity to assure him that he can ask you any question, no matter how small or silly it may seem. Or attach a pamphlet about healthy sexuality to your daughter’s bathroom mirror with a note saying that you’d picked it up at your doctor’s office and that you thought she’d be interested. Another possibility would be to cut an article out of a respectable magazine that addresses sexuality. (However, do a little research – some magazines are much more professional and appropriate about this topic.)

If you are confident, willing to start early, and not afraid to utilize the materials available to you, the conversation will be less anxiety producing for everyone involved.