Tips for Talking with Teens About Sex
- Pay full attention and make eye contact when talking to your teen about sexuality or any other topic!
- Respect any and all questions. Teens have a right to know and parents have a responsibility to inform them.
- Answer questions briefly and matter-of-factly, according to teen's ability to understand.
- Reserve judgment while listening to a teen's question. A simple question "What do you think?" clarifies misconceptions and buys time while you formulate an answer!
- Use books, videos, drawings, etc. to help clarify your meaning. "Teachable moments" like a current movie, a TV show, or a pregnant friend or relative make natural openings for further exploration of sexual understanding.
- Don't wait for questions.
- Realize that teaching about sexuality is an ongoing responsibility and not just a "one shot" talk about "the facts." Feelings, values, and decision-making skills are vital components.
- Maintain confidentiality. Model respect for feelings and the right of privacy.
- Model acceptance and understanding. Resist arguing and preaching.
- Know your "soft spots" and refer to someone else when you can no longer be helpful.
Here is an excellent resource to help you talk with your children about sexuality.
Encouraging Communication: Family Activities
- Write a sentence of 25 words or less which expresses the one message about sexuality you consider most important to give your child.
- Interview your son or daughter by asking these questions:
- Who is your best friend and what do you admire the most about that person?
- Why do you think it is difficult for adults to talk with kids about sex?
- Share old photos with your children and discuss what it was like to care for a baby (i.e. the hardest part, the happiest moment, etc.).
- Talk about the worries you had about dating when you were a teen.
- Share information via books you approve of to share what you value and set guidelines together with your teen.
Other Resources for Parents
Family TV Viewing Guide: Turn family TV time into teachable moments with Planned Parenthood's guide, "The Talk Show: Using TV to Talk with Your Children About Sex"
Consent Roadmap: There can often be confusion about what sexual consent actually IS, when and how to give it (or get it), and why it is needed. This Consent Roadmap (PDF) is designed to help people of all ages navigate some of those “tricky curves” on the road to sexual consent. Parents may find this map a helpful tool when discussing the concept of consent with their kids.
Resource Center: Visit our Resource Center for learning tools for both parents/families and their teens.
Programs: Learn about our Peer Education programs for teens, which include a "Parent Night" for parents.
There's No Place Like Home for Sex Education
A guide for parents, to help answer your children's questions at any age.
Useful Links for Parents
Planned Parenthood Federation of America: Tools for Parents
Explore the many helpful, in-depth resources on the site of the national Planned Parenthood organization.
Advocates for Youth
Advocates for Youth is dedicated to creating programs and advocating for policies that help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. Advocates provides information, training, and strategic assistance to youth-serving organizations, policy makers, youth activists, and the media in the United States and the developing world.
The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI)
AGI provides access to statistics on abortion, teen pregnancy, and contraception, as well as articles from Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, International Family Planning Perspectives, and the Guttmacher Report on Public Policy.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention
This CDC site provides statistics, fact sheets, and prevention guidelines.
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States
SIECUS-the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States- provides education and information about sexuality and sexual and reproductive health.
The Kaiser Family Foundation
The Kaiser Family Foundation publishes the Daily Reproductive Health Report, as well as numerous studies and surveys related to sexual and reproductive health and policy.