Talking With Your Teen About Sex

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March is National Talk with Your Teen about Sex Month. Though any month is the right time to have “the talk,” the purpose of this commemoration is to remind and encourage parents to open the lines of communication with their children regarding this subject. The Guttmacher Institute reports that seven in 10 teens of both sexes have had sexual intercourse by the age of 19 and according to the Center for Disease Control, teen pregnancies are on the rise once again. The United States still has the highest rate of teen pregnancies in the industrialized world making NOW the best time to start talking to your teens about sex.

Important tips for parents to remember this & every month:

  • START EARLY. Talk with your children early, using age-appropriate language and examples. Waiting until adolescence may be too late.
  • Be honest about your own feelings of difficulty discussing such a sensitive and intimate topic.
  • Be realistic about the disadvantages of engaging in sexual activity too early, including sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies and the possibility of becoming a single parent. Equally important are the advantages of waiting to have sex, such as being able to finish school and meeting career goals.
  • Reassure your children that you will be available to them whenever they need to talk. Expect them to come to you with follow-up questions.

Dr. Michael A. Carrera, Director, Children’s Aid Society Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program, says, "Parents are the primary sexuality educators of their own children, they have no choice about it; their only choice is how well or poorly they do it." Dr. Carrera recommends the following books:

It's Perfectly Normal by Robbie Harris
What's Happening to my Body: Book for Boys and What's Happening to my Body: Book for Girls by Lynda Madaras
What's Happening to Me? and Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle.