In a recent news story, Fox News revealed that an 11 year old girl had given birth to her first child. The doctors discussed how difficult the birth was because the child’s body had not even developed enough to give birth; she did not even have enough breast tissue to be able to nurse the child. This is an extreme situation, but teen pregnancy and sexually active teens are on the rise again, making it crucial to start talking about sex you’re your teens and younger kids now.
Talking about sex with your teen is one of the toughest conversations you will ever have, but not talking about sex with your teen is even worse. Just talking to your teens about sex, about the changes their bodies will undergo, and how to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancy, AIDS, and STDs can make a huge difference in the choices they make. Arming your teen with information by talking about sex is not condoning sexual activity.
Teens are overexposed to information about sex. Their friends talk about it at school. It’s in the advertisements they see on TV. It’s all over the Internet. You cannot prevent your teen from being exposed to sexual information, but you can create an open and honest environment in which your teen can comfortable talk with you about sex and sexuality. You may not be able to control everything they see and hear, but you can make sure they have access to accurate and complete information by talking about sex and making good choices about sex decisions.
The key to talking about sex with your teen is to not panic. Sex and sexual urges are a natural part of the human condition. The more comfortable you are with sex, the easier it will be for you to talk about sex with your teens. It is important not to be overbearing or make it a big deal. Take natural opportunities, like a shared movie or an ad you both see that makes talking about sex easier.
With more than half of all teens experimenting sexually before age 16, talking about sex should start when your teens are young and the conversation should happen more than once. You can let your teen know about your personal beliefs while still letting them know the risks they take by having unprotected sex. What you should not do is threaten your teen or make black and white ultimatums. If you tell your teen that you’ll kick her out if she gets pregnant or that you will never forgive him for having sex before marriage, you create a situation where your teen will not feel comfortable coming to you for advice or to talk when he or she is under pressure to give in to sex.
Instead, when talking about sex, help your teen gain a balanced perspective about sex and his or her own sexuality. Be understanding and forthright. Teach your teen to value his or her body and treat it with respect. Answer questions and be honest. In this day and age of immediate access to an abundance of information, telling your teen about storks and birds and bees isn’t going to cut it. By being open and honest when talking about sex, your teen will respect you and listen to you and feel comfortable coming to you when they need information.