1. You are a role model for your teen. Set good examples. Show teens how our lives are enriched by our values.
2. Start talking early, and talk often.
3. Make it a habit to share your thoughts and feelings. Let your teens know that you're available to talk.
4. Take advantage of teachable moments. Use topics like a friend's pregnancy or a TV show to begin a conversation.
5. Don't use scare tactics as a way to stop teens from having sex - they don't work.
6. Take your discussion beyond "the Birds and the Bees." Talk to your teens about all sexuality-related topics; dating, rape, media images, sexually transmitted infections, safe sex, sexual orientation, etc.
7. Make sure teens know how to protect themselves so that if they do decide to have sex, they can be safe.
8. Respect your teenager's privacy as much as your own. Ask questions, but don't pry.
9. Teach teens that respect for differences is important. Be clear about your values, and let teens know that others may have different values about sexuality.
10. Enlist help. Let your teen know that they can turn to a trusted family friend, counselor, health center, or clergy member if, for whatever reason, they don't feel comfortable coming to you. As parents, we rightfully want to be involved in the lives of our teens, but, above all else, we want them to be safe.
Try to avoid de-valuing questions and/or situations. Remember, it's ok not to have ALL the answers and to be a little embarrassed. Sharing this feeling with your teen will help them better understand the situation and feel ok if they are embarrassed too. It's never too early to share medically accurate information!