Tips for Talking With Kids About Sex

Mother and daughter talking under the bedsheetsHave you had “the talk” with your kids yet? It’s something a lot of parents dread, but I always thought I’d handle it like a pro. Then, one evening, I left my 8-year-old to watch TV while I talked on the phone with a family member who was going through a crisis. She tuned in to “That 70s Show,” and pretty soon she yelled up to me, “Mom! What’s intercourse?”

I figured if she was going to watch programs she knows she’s not allowed to watch, then she was going to learn about stuff she might not have bargained for. So I told her about intercourse. I tried to be sensitive and thorough, but I’d be lying if I said it was a comfortable experience for either of us.

Since then, I’ve been looking for tips on how to talk with kids about sex so I can do a better job next time. That’s why I was interested when LifeStyles Condoms got in touch about celebrating World Population Day. It was July 11, but this year’s theme, raising awareness of adolescent pregnancy, is timeless.  In honor of that theme, LifeStyles provided these tips for talking with your adolescent about sex. I found them helpful, and I hope you will, too!

Sex is a natural part of life, but it’s not always a comfortable subject to approach with your kids. The best piece of advice we can give is to make sex an ongoing conversation. This is one “mystery” you don’t want them solving themselves. Here are some facts, figures, and a few simple guidelines to help you get through it all.
First, Talk … and, more importantly, listen! Keep the channels of communication open. You play a big role in how your child views sex. That’s why it’s important you be there with plenty of understanding and information.
Encourage conversation. Many kids will never ask about sex, so it’s important you approach them before a crisis arises. Think through your own values about sexuality: What messages do you want to give your children about love, gender roles, pregnancy, etc?
Be aware of outside influences. What are they teaching your child at school, church, or youth groups about sexual education? It may provide a springboard for your conversations, and make things go a lot easier.
Share your feelings. In addition to giving facts, share your feelings, values, and beliefs about sex.
Be sure to tell your child why you feel that way. Telling children the “why” behind values teaches them to think. And when they share their feelings … listen closely.
Balance the positives with the negatives. While it’s important your child knows the negative information about sex (i.e., sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and unwanted pregnancy), you should balance your approach with positive information. Tell them sexuality is natural and healthy, and in loving relationships, intimacy can be a wonderful part of adult life.
Okay, so now you know how to talk to your teen. But will he or she go out and have more sex because of it? And what do you say about protection? With all the “false” information out there, you need to have the facts – and nothing but the facts.
According to the World Health Organization, there is no evidence that sex education encourages sexual experimentation or increased activity. On the contrary … if any effects of sex education were observed, almost without exception, it is the postponement of sexual intercourse and/or effective use of contraceptives.
Abstinence is sure protection against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). But there is no reliable evidence that abstinence-only programs change students’ knowledge, attitudes, or behavior.
When used consistently and correctly, a latex condom is the most effective barrier contraceptive available today. However, condom failure is often due to improper use. To help solve this problem, LifeStyles Brand Condoms has introduced Discs with unique packaging that ensures proper use, since every condom is packed right side up for an easy-on, correct fit.
Have you had “the talk” yet? If you’ve got any additional tips, please share them!

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Sara
A co-founder of Working Moms Against Guilt, Sara Bennett Wealer is an author, copywriter and mother of two. Her debut novel for young adults, RIVAL, was released by HarperTeen.

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