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Planned Parenthood believes that parents or guardians should be their children’s primary sexuality educators. Parents and guardians know their own children better than anyone else and children need to have discussions about sexuality in the context of their family’s values. Studies also confirm that children want their parents to talk with them about sexuality. “Youth often say that they want to discuss sex, relationships, and sexual health with their parents. Parents are their preferred source of information on these subjects” (Kirby, 2007).
We also recognize that talking with our children about sex and sexuality can be a difficult task. Many parents never had the opportunity to discuss these topics openly with their parents, so they have no role models when it comes to talking with their own children about sexuality. Other parents may fear that discussing these issues with their children will only increase their child’s curiosity and lead to more sexualized behavior.
In reality, not talking with your children about sexuality can lead to higher risk-taking when it comes to sex. Forty-six percent of males and 47% of females ages 15-19 have already begun having sex. “Research shows that youth with the least accurate information about sexuality and sexual risk behaviors may experiment more and at earlier ages compared to youth who have more information” (Kirby, 2002). Ideally, we should begin sexuality discussions before they reach these ages so we can develop a foundation of trust. This will allow conversations about sex to continue throughout adolescence. Remember, when a child is old enough to ask the questions he or she is old enough to know the answers and the correct terminology.
The “teachable moment” is a simple way to engage in a non-threatening conversation with your child. These are moments that happen every day. A neighbor who is pregnant, a commercial on TV, or an event that happened in school are all great ways to start a dialogue with your child about sexuality. Who knows… you may actually find out just what is going on inside your child’s head.