Be clear about your values. Before you begin speaking with your child, think about your values. What do you believe about teens having sex; what does your faith community believe? You need to be clear about how you feel so you can convey your values to your child.
Talk about facts versus beliefs. Facts may sometimes contradict your own values. It’s okay to discuss the factual information about something and also convey to your child your values about this. Always give an honest and direct answer to your child’s question. Letting your child know that people have different views, values, and opinions about something is always a positive thing.
Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers. “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer to a child’s question. Responding with “let’s find out together” is a way to promote a discussion.
Do not assume that because your child is asking questions, she/he is engaging in sexual activity. Children are naturally curious. They may have questions because they have heard or seen something that is confusing to them. Sexual images are everywhere: on TV, on billboards, in magazines, and on the Internet. It’s a good sign that they are asking you. It means they trust you.
Practice what you preach. It can be confusing for young people to hear one thing about sexuality and then see an adult act in a way that does not support this. Acting on your values and being a good role model are powerful messages for your child.
But don’t preach. A conversation is a two-way dialogue. Don’t talk AT your child. Talk WITH your child. Some of the best information about what is going on with your child’s life comes from keeping quiet and listening.
Encourage a sense of pride. All children deserved to be loved and wanted. Let them know you are interested in them as people. You want to know what they think and how they feel.
Keep the conversation going. Talking with your child about sexuality is an ongoing process. It is not a single event. It is important to start the conversation early and to let your child know that you are always willing to talk with them. Questions and topics regarding sexuality will change and mature with age.
Keep your sense of humor! Letting your child know that sexuality is a natural, normal part of life is a powerful message. As you become your child’s primary sexuality educator, don’t be surprised when your child asks you a question about sex in the line at the grocery store!