Talking About Sex with Your Teen
Studies show that almost half of U.S. teens have had sex by age 18. Educating kids
about sex is something all parents need to do.
Be prepared to help your teens make sense of the changes in their bodies and their
emerging sexuality. Otherwise your teen could be risking:
Your talks with your teen should come naturally. So it’s important to build an open,
trusting relationship with your kids while they are still young. A good relationship
with your child is a great foundation to have effective conversations with your teen. If
your child is maturing early, topics related to sex and sexual activity may need to
be discussed sooner than the teen years.
Be alert to warning signs that could mean there is a problem related to sexual activity.
Some of these signs include:
A drastic change in eating or sleeping habits
A sudden loss of interest in school
Strange statements such as, “I think I might need to see a doctor”
How can you find ways to talk about the tough subject of sex with your teen? Here
are a few suggestions:
Look for openings. Use current events as an icebreaker. Imagine you are watching the news on TV, and
a story about teen pregnancy comes up. That can be a natural way for you to use that
news story to begin a more personal talk about sexual issues.
Make the first move. In most cases, it’s better to bring up the subject of sex yourself, rather than wait
for your child to seek you out. Why? If your child has questions, you want the answers
to come from a mature, caring adult, and not from the child’s peers who may or may
not have the facts straight. One point to emphasize is that no one has the right to
pressure your teen to have sex.
Sort out your own values first. If, as a parent, you decide that sexual activity is OK, then you should be clear about
what behavior and boundaries you expect from your teen. It's a good idea to talk with
your family healthcare provider about how you’re going to handle issues such as pregnancy
and disease prevention. Talk with the provider about this before talking with your
Ask your child what they think about their healthcare provider. It's vital that your teen sees their provider as a trusted person who can be asked
delicate questions about sex and sexuality.
Talk with other parents. Parents who have already raised teens can offer advice that may help you communicate
better with your children.