For a parent, nothing is more difficult than teaching teenagers about safe sex. The subject is taboo in many Western cultures and it is usually left to the health educators in our school system. Unfortunately, waiting until the subject is taught in school can be "too little, too late" for many teens.
Talking to Your Teen
One of the best ways to talk to teens is to have an open line of communication, starting when children are young. If you wait until your teen is older to start talking about important subjects, they may tune you out. It is important to establish yourself as an adult who is open to discussion about anything before they hit the teen years.
Teaching teenagers about safe sex can be difficult because most teens don't want to have this discussion with their parents. It is uncomfortable for them, especially if they have become sexually active. They would rather talk to anyone except their parent about this subject. This doesn't mean you should stop talking to them about safe sex. Even if they are rolling their eyes and acting disgusted, keep talking because despite their demeanor, they are listening.
Teaching Teenagers About Safe Sex Practices
If you aren't up on the latest safe sex practices yourself, read up on them before you begin any discussion on the subject. Teens know when you are winging it and when you are speaking the truth.
Several sites on the Internet offer ways for parents to talk to their teens about safe sex. Surf a few of these to get ideas on how to bring up the subject with your tween or teen:
Tips on The Talk
Timing is everything, especially when it comes to having a serious talk with your teen about sex. Some tips that may help when you have the big discussion include the following:
- Pick a time that is free from interruptions. Give yourself plenty of time for the talk so that you don't feel rushed. What you have to say is important, so give it the attention it deserves.
- Have the discussion when you and your teen are in a good mood. Talking about sex can be difficult; being in a relaxed mood puts everyone in the proper mindset for an adult conversation.
- Be a good listener. While your teen may not want to talk much about the subject of sex, don't only think of what you are going to say next. Instead, listen to what your teen says and give thoughtful answers to any of their questions.
- Don't be judgmental. Remember that you are trying to keep the lines of communication open. Nothing slams the door on that line like making value judgments about a teen's behavior or the questions they may ask. Your teen is watching and listening to everything you do and say.
- Answer all of their questions, no matter how embarrassing. Parents need to be in for the long haul when it comes to teaching teenagers about safe sex. Do you want your teen going to other people for answers?
There Is No Time Like the Present
Don't put off talking to your tween or teen about sex. Many kids have questions they need answered now; they can't wait until they have sex education in high school. Schedule a talk with your teen and answer those tough questions before they get misinformation from someone else.