Talking to your Teen
Tips for talking...
Sex is a life-long conversation
The reality for parents and caregivers is that there is rarely just one conversation about sex, more often there are hundreds of small discussions. This means there's more than one chance to get it right. If you feel like you messed up a talk, don't worry, you'll have another chance next week or next month. The important thing is to keep the lines of communication open. And if you imagine these moments of opportunity and shudder, don't put yourself down.
Clarify your own sexual values
Knowing how to talk to your teenagers about sex is often complicated by the fact that few of us spend time considering our own sexual values. Sexual values are the beliefs, priorities, prejudices, thoughts and feelings we have about sex, sexuality and gender. Our sexual values change over time and through experience.
Make it okay for your children to ask about sex
Most children have questions about sex. When we don't give them permission to ask questions, or fail to create appropriate time and space for them to do this, the questions come anyway. If you are genuinely interested in raising sexually healthy teenagers you need to create an environment where they feel comfortable asking you questions.
It's okay to postpone, but don't ignore
If you are shocked by a question, or get a question you don't know the answer, it's okay to postpone the answer. Just don't use this as a way to avoid answering the question altogether.
Don't try (or pretend) to have all the answer
There is no way you will ever have answers to all of the questionsyour children have. Admitting this can teach your young people that no-one knows everything and that you, their parent/s, are as human as everyone else.
Know your boundaries and teach them
Don't feel you have to answer every personal question your children ask you. Establish boundaries for yourself - knowing the things you will and won't talk about with strangers, family, friends, and eventually romantic partners - is an important development stage. You can model for your children by having clear boundaries around what you will and will not discuss with them. Remember though, that you cannot insist that your young people share your views about things like cultural respect and parental values.
There are a few right and wrong answers when it comes to talking to your young people about sex. Giving them honest, straightforward information about sexual health is the best way to support them in having a healthy sexual life, which includes protecting them from unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
Questions to discuss with your teenager, to help her reach a decision:
- What do you want out of your life?
- How will this pregnancy change your plans?
- How do you feel about being responsible for a child?
- Will you tell the father of your child?
- How will this affect your relationship with him?
- Will he help you whatever you decide to do?
- Will you tell the rest of the family?
- Will they help you?
- What if you keep the baby?
- Who will help you?
- Where will you live?
- Where will the money come from?
- What about your education and career?
- How do you feel about adoption or guardianship?
- How do you feel about having an abortion?
- Do you feel you understand all the issues?
- Have you given yourself the chance to think things through?