Planned Parenthood

West and Northern Michigan

For Parents

Tips for Talking with Teens About Sex

1. Pay full attention and make eye contact when talking to your teen about sexuality or any other topic!

2. Respect any and all questions. Teens have a right to know and parents have a responsibility to inform them.

3. Answer questions briefly and matter-of-factly, according to teen's ability to understand.

4. 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!

5. 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.

6. Don't wait for questions.

7. 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.

8. Maintain confidentiality. Model respect for feelings and the right of privacy.

9. Model acceptance and understanding. Resist arguing and preaching.

10. Know your "soft spots" and refer to someone else when you can no longer be helpful.

Encouraging Communication - Family Activities

1. Write a sentence of 25 words or less which expresses the one message about sexuality you consider most important to give your child.

2. 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?

3. 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.).

4. Talk about the worries you had about dating when you were a teen.

5. Share information via books you approve of to share what you value and set guidelines together with your teen.

Other Resources for Parents from PPWNM

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"

Visit our Resource Center for books, games, and other learning tools for both parents/families and their teens.

Learn about our education programs for teens, which include a "Parent Night" for parents: Peer Education and the Safer Choices Project.

Become an advocate for responsible sexuality education in our schools — join the Parent Protection Connection (PPC)! Click here or call our Administrative Headquarters in Grand Rapids at (616) 774-7005 for more information. (Only available in Kent County.)

There's No Place Like Home for Sex Education

A guide for parents, to help answer your children's questions at any age.

English version

Spanish version

American Indian version

Useful Links for Parents

Survey 2012: Teens Say Parents Most Influence Their Decisions About Sex

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For Parents