Talking about sex with your teen is not a fun task. It can be awkward, uncomfortable and rattling. This is especially true considering that many of us fathers never had much of a sex talk from our parents. But for this generation of children who are constantly exposed to the highly sexualized world, it is vital that your children gain a real, non-sensationalized view of sex.
As the parent, you are expected to be the one insisting on the conversation and in control. But you probably feel just as weird about it as your teen does, maybe even more so.
Regardless, “the talk” is one of the most important milestones in the development of your child. It cannot be delayed for too long. Children often have access to highly inaccurate information on sex, thanks to their peers and the digital age they are growing up in.
The Stats On Sex As It Relates To Teens
According to the Resource Center for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (ReCAPP), a survey in 2015 found that 41% of high school students admitted that they had already engaged in sexual intercourse.
That isn’t the only surprising statistic about teens and sex. According to a study in 2017, the average age of exposure to hardcore pornography in today’s age is 13 years old. Those images can be confusing and misleading for young people who have no context or way to frame what is happening on screen.
Approaching “The Talk” With Your Teens
It is crucial that you discuss sex with your children, even if they are older teens. To help your children feel more comfortable talking about sex with you, try doing these things:
Encourage them to relax and trust you.
- Now, I’m not saying mere words will do the trick. A key part of being a father and head of the home is to continuously build your family’s trust. Look at your actions honestly, and if you feel like you have cultivated a strong trusting relationship with your children, you are more likely to have them relax and trust you enough to have an uncomfortable discussion.
Invite your teens to be honest without fear of being punished.
- Since some teens become sexually active around the ages of 13-14, they could be too scared to tell you. This fear puts them in a dangerous position, as someone can manipulate them with their fear. If you can truly promise you will not punish your children for their honesty, you can help avert serious issues.
Cover the medical aspects.
- This includes the reproductive organs and processes of both genders, sexually transmitted diseases, what causes and happens during pregnancy, and other topics as you feel are appropriate.
Go over the emotional aspects of sexual activity.
- These topics can include the emotional connection that can come with sexual activity, how sex and intimacy differ, etc.
Talk about contraceptive methods.
- Cover what methods do and do not work effectively. Avoid scare tactics, as teens will often research what you say to check. Parents who lie in an attempt to keep their children from having sex can damage the trust they have built-up with their children.
Discuss the importance of consent for both parties.
- Even if waiting until marriage is a value in your family, your children should understand how important their husband’s or wife’s consent is to a healthy relationship. Also, talk to your children about knowing when you are ready for sex.
Cover The Dynamics Of Sex And Relationships
Sex is not the only topic that should be on the table. Alongside the above points, you should also discuss how to know you are in a healthy relationship versus an unhealthy one. Talk about what respect means for both parties in a relationship and how important it is for healthy relationships to be based on respect and trust.
Too often, young people will become involved in a physically, sexually, or emotionally abusive relationships with no knowledge that they have been sucked into one. With your guidance, your children can learn the red flags and what to do if they ever find themselves in a toxic relationship, and how to help if they have friends who are in one.
Finally, let your children know that they can always come to you. You are your child’s first line of defense in the world.
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