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October is Let’s Talk Month, a dedicated month promoting conversations that support young people in understanding their personal identities and relationships. At Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties (PPOSBC), we believe in the importance of parents and caregivers engaging in regular, open, and honest conversations with the young people in their lives, particularly in regards to sexual and reproductive health. 

Having open discussions about topics such as body image, reproduction, gender and sexual orientation, sexual behavior, and preventing pregnancy and STIs helps young people feel empowered and confident to make healthy decisions. These conversations not only provide them with the necessary information, but also create a sense of trust and support.

While there is no single right way to approach these conversations, what truly matters is that parents and caregivers take the initiative to start talking and continue having these discussions regularly. By doing so, they create an environment where young people feel comfortable seeking guidance and advice when needed.

How to Start the Conversation

Set Boundaries
Discuss the concept of boundaries and how to establish them with friends, peers, and family members. Give young people the opportunity to practice what they would say if someone crosses their boundary. For instance, ask them how they would respond if someone tried to give them an unwanted hug. Provide them with a healthy response like, “I’m not comfortable with a hug, but I will give you a high five instead.” 

Difficult Conversations
Acknowledging that difficult conversations can be uncomfortable, it’s important to create a safe space for young people to openly ask questions and express their feelings. Leading by example will help them develop sensitivity towards the needs of others. 

Discuss the significance of asking for and giving permission from others. For example, explore the scenario of someone saying “no” or not respecting their “no.” Afterwards, provide feedback.

Help them understand and identify different types of bullying such as physical, verbal, and social. Also, educate them on what actions to take and where to go for help if they experience or see bullying. 

Inclusivity and Respectfulness
Engage in conversations around what it means to respect other people, families, and communities with different experiences from their own. 

Utilize Movies, Television Shows, and Social Media  
Movies, television shows, and social media platforms can serve as effective tools for initiating conversations with the youth in your life. When an opportunity presents itself, make sure to seize the moment and allow them to process what they saw, encourage them to ask questions, and start a dialogue. By doing so, you break the ice and help break down the sensationalized portrayal of sex and unhealthy relationships often found in the media. 

Planned Parenthood is Here to Support You
Let’s Talk Month serves as a reminder that communication about sex and relationships is a vital aspect of supporting young individuals as they navigate through life. It’s an opportunity for parents, caregivers, and young people to come together and foster an environment where open and honest discussions can take place, ultimately leading to healthier choices and relationships. 

If you need assistance in having healthy conversations with your youth, reach out to PPOSBC’s Community Education team. They also provide workshops for parents, caregivers, and professionals that work with youth. If you’re interested in learning more check out: BetterThanSexEd.org