October is Let’s Talk Month. It highlights the important role that parents play as the primary sexuality educators of their children, and the importance of honest, open, and ongoing communication in families.
Human beings are curious creatures. Toddlers are constantly on the move, interacting and mimicking as they go. As children grow, talking about consent and healthy relationships is a lifelong conversation for parents and their children—something that should start early. Communicating about sexuality and relationships is a good way for parents and teens to connect.
- When teens and parents are comfortable talking with each other about relationships and sexuality, parents are better able to help and support teens to make healthy decisions.
- Studies show that teens who report having frequent conversations with their parents about sexuality wait longer to begin having sex, and are more likely to use condoms and other birth control methods when they do become sexually active.
So… what does that even look like?
- Both teens and parents need to know that there’s no one best way to talk about sexuality and sexual health.
- The important thing is to start and continue having these conversations. Rather than “the talk,” parents should think about communicating with their children in a series of ongoing conversations that reflect their child’s age and development.
- Numerous studies have shown that teens want to hear what their parents think and feel about sexuality and relationships.
- Most parents and teens do talk with each other about sexuality and related topics. Eight out of 10 teens say they’ve talked with a parent about sexuality and relationships.
How do I get the ball rolling?
- Pop culture that includes sexuality issues can help parents and adolescents have honest conversations about healthy relationships.
- Watching TV together or following the same TV shows can provide natural moments to spark conversations: Once you’re talking about characters’ relationships or storylines, it may be easier to ask questions about your teen’s values, behaviors, and beliefs.
- Watching a TV show that features a young person going through puberty or going out on a date, or seeing a storyline about body acceptance or pregnancy can be an opportunity to initiate conversations. Using a “teachable moment” can make the conversation more natural.
- Daily life provides opportunities for talking about sexuality and relationships.
Planned Parenthood.org has resources, guidance, and videos designed to make starting and continuing these conversations easier and richer. Figuring out how to talk to your teen about sex and sexuality may not always be comfortable. Don’t worry! We’re here to help you get the conversation started— and keep it going.