Planned Parenthood

League of Massachusetts

Conversation Starters

Conversation Starters for Parents to Talk with Youth About Sex and Sexuality

Many parents wait for their kids to ask a question instead of bringing up the topic of sex and sexuality with them. The reality is that many children will not ask their parents questions about sexual topics and many parents may avoid the conversations because they are uncomfortable with the subject. Open-ended questions can be used to open the door for conversations and keep the door open for comfortable dialogue about sex and sexuality.


Inviting your teen to share her or his observations and ideas with you can be a good way to ease into the discussion. (e.g. “The character in the TV show was pretty angry at her boyfriend. Do you think she was right?” Or, “How do you think a person knows they are ready to have sex?  What is important in a relationship between two people before they decide to have sex?”) It’s important to validate their questions and really listen without judging when they answer. Be an “askable” parent by rewarding questions with, “I’m glad you came to me.” It will teach your children to come to you when they have other questions and that you are open to talking with them about sexuality issues. Remember that the unspoken question, “Am I normal?” is often hiding behind many questions about sexual development, sexual thoughts and sexual feelings.


Door Openers:

  • What do you think?
  • That’s a good question.
  • I want to understand how you feel.
  • Tell me what that means to you.
  • I'm glad you told me about that.
  • I think you are saying that you...is that what you mean?
  • Tell me more.

Door Slammers:

  • You’re too young!
  • Where did you hear that?
  • Do you want to know about it because you’re doing it?
  • If you say that word again, I’ll….
  • That’s none of your business!
  • I don’t care what your friends are doing.
  • That’s just for boys (girls).
  • We’ll talk about that when you need to know.

For Those Kids Who Don’t Bring The Subject Up
"I can’t believe how tall you’ve grown already. Have you noticed other changes in your body? What do you like (or what don’t you like) about the changes you’re going through?"

"When do you think a person is ready to be a parent?"

Answering Those Tough Questions That You Don’t Feel Ready For
"That’s a really good question. It’s normal to be curious about… I’d really like to talk about it with you but I need some time to think about it first."

"What have you heard/learned already about that and where did you hear it?"

Answer Factually, Clearing Up Slang While Responding to the Question
Q. Some boys at school were talking about jacking off, what’s that?
A. Jacking off, or masturbation, is when someone touches himself or herself for sexual pleasure. Touching yourself can’t hurt you. Some people choose to masturbate and, some people choose not to masturbate.

Q. Where do girls pee from?
A. Girls and women urinate through a urethra, a tube that is connected to the bladder. Boys and men also urinate through a urethra.

Q. What’s a blow job?
A. Blow job is another term for oral sex or oral intercourse, when the penis goes into the mouth. Touching the vulva with the mouth is also called oral sex. Some sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS can be transmitted from one person to another during oral sex.

Questions to Ask That Open The Door To Discuss Values
Q. When is it okay for teens to have sex?
Q. What do you think about how the couple on (favorite show) deal with each other when they get angry?
Q. How do you know that you really like the person enough to have sex with them?

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Conversation Starters