There comes a time when our kids stop asking us a million questions and it may seem like their curiosity (and zest for life) has blown out the window but really, as the teen years approach they are more curious about relationships, the meaning of life, and what’s ahead for them. There are so many unknowns creeping into their lives and sex, whether they admit to it or not, is one of the big topics that leaves them feeling vulnerable and uncertain.
When I was a teenager, I had a lot of questions when it came to sex but I was quiet about most of them. I’m pretty sure this is the case for most teens. It’s easier to talk to a friend in a joking way or try to find the information quietly. No one wants to admit what they don’t know in this area.
Why Parents Need to Talk to Their Teens About Sex
Sex isn’t easy to talk about with our children, ever. And if there’s one thing I want to do it’s to be able to answer every question that I can for my kids. I want to create the space for them to feel that they can come to me with anything. I want to do my best to stay neutral around the subject.
Yes, they are my kids and the thought of them being sexual is uncomfortable but this isn’t about me and my discomfort.
These are the years when they are gaining a lot of autonomy and that needs to be supported in a healthy way. Not a “let’s not talk about it and hope it doesn’t happen” kind of way.
It’s not my life; it’s theirs. And a part of parenting teens and young adults is being aware that they are probably going to have a sex life and I need to get really comfy with that. Having one serious talk and just hoping for the best isn’t going to work for me or my kids.
I’m a communicator; I am a talker. I want to hear about their fears, struggles, and I never want anything to be off-limits when it comes to having a conversation.
I started talking to my kids about sex really early out of necessity. I’d learned my first child heard about the male and female anatomy and how you “make sex” one day on the swings at recess when he was 5.
I wanted my voice to be the one he heard on this topic because I’m pretty sure I knew more than his kindergarten classmate, Tommy who was conducting the in-depth lesson.
I followed suit with all my kids with an initial talk about how to make a baby, what sex is, and the importance of asking before you touch someone. And I’ve followed that up by being completely open about sex.
We’ve watched shows about it. I’ve asked them questions that make them want to run away from me. And if there is a sex scene happening in a movie we don’t fast forward because it’s uncomfortable although I’ve come close a few times. We sit in the discomfort and then I use it as a teaching moment.
For instance, my daughter and I were watching a show where the woman was going home with a man she knew didn’t love her. She wanted a relationship with him but he was clear he didn’t want the same. I used that opportunity to make sure that my daughter thinks twice before she gives herself to someone who doesn’t want the same things she does.
They love this (NOT), and try to keep me from “turning everything into a life lesson.” But alas, I can’t help myself.
I am going to assume my teenage kids are going to have sex. Maybe I’ll know for sure one day if they are because they will be comfortable enough to tell me, and maybe they won’t. Either way it’s fine, I just want them to feel like they can tell me if that’s what they want to do.
Also, it’s my job to educate them about it and that doesn’t happen by talking with them once and never bringing it up again.
I tell them to come to me for birth control if they need it. And while I won’t knowingly provide a space for them to have sex under my roof, I never want them to feel ashamed for having it.
I take them to their doctor and remind them to talk to the doctor if they are having sex and assure them that anything they tell the doctor stays between the two of them.
I keep the conversation serious but light so it doesn’t feel too intimidating. Talking about sex shouldn’t feel scary or taboo. It should feel normal because sex is, in fact, it is a very normal part of life.
The best thing I believe I can do is teach my children how to respect their own body and other people’s bodies. I can remind them feelings play a big role in sex. I can tell them to wait and be intimate with people they care about and having a one-night fling isn’t a great idea. I can tell them to be honest about how they feel about someone they want to be sexual with and if they don’t want a commitment outside of fooling around they should say so.
I can do all these things in the hopes of getting my teenagers to wait for the right one and have responsible sex when they are the appropriate age but there is no guarantee that will happen.
So, I’ll just assume–I’ll assume they are going to have sex and I will be here to answer any questions and give support no matter how uncomfortable it is.
I don’t believe in forcing things like a smoky eye, a pair of jeans that don’t fit, or a friendship that feels toxic and hard. But I do believe that having a solid relationship with my teens around the subject of sex is vital so I’m not afraid to force it a bit.
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