By: A Philadelphia High School Student
I come from a family where talking about feelings – let alone sex – is not welcome. I understand these kinds of conversations can be uncomfortable for everyone involved, but I also believe they are very important to have with children at any age. Many parents wait for their kids to come to them. But, in reality, I think almost no kid wants to talk to their parents about sex or anything relating to sex at all. Yet, I also think that parents should know that even if their teen feels this way, parents should still try to start the conversation.
I have a few tips for parents.
- Make it natural.
I suggest that parents not to blurt out, “It’s time to talk about sex”, but rather see if you can segue off from another conversation, into a larger conversation about sex. There are lots of opportunities! For instance, if you are in the car together listening to the radio, watching a movie or a new show on Netflix.
- Skip the lecture.
It’s important to not turn this conversation into a lecture. As a high schooler myself, I know we tend to tune out and try to get the conversation over as soon as possible if the parent turns it into a lecture.
- Avoid shaming.
It’s also really important to not shame your kid. This will make them not want to continue the conversation and most likely not come to you again for advice or questions later.
- Don’t be dismissive.
As a parent you most likely don’t want to think about your kid having sex or anything like that, and you may dismiss a question by saying something like, “Why would you even ask me this?”
Don’t avoid dealing with what your son or daughter needs. Rather than dismissing that they are romantically involved with someone or telling them to stop (not helpful!), a more appropriate response that invites a good conversation is, “While I don’t agree with what you are doing right now…” Your kid may roll their eyes at the first part but will appreciate you answering the question or helping them to figure out how to handle the situation.
- Don’t pry.
As parents you will most likely be curious about why your kid may be asking a question, but try not to pry for information. If they want to share, they will. If they don’t want to right now, respect that. Don’t demand to know why they’re asking. If you resist the urge to pry, and focus instead on listening and being curious, your kid will most likely come to you more and more with questions and concerns.
If you can follow these tips, this may even be the start of your kid opening up more each time. They may eventually tell you something without you asking. But parents, I repeat, this will only happen if you make it a comfortable conversation, instead of an interrogation.
Conversations between parents and their teens can be an easy one. Remember these conversations aren’t meant to scare. Instead, they should help the parent and child to better understand one another. It is also a chance for each to educate and learn from the other.
After all you don’t want your kid to be the one in health class saying sex is when two people hug each other for more than 3 seconds.