Know What to Say Basics
Good news! Teen sexual activity, as well as teenage pregnancy, has dramatically declined over the last four decades. To keep those numbers low, it is essential for parents to begin and maintain an ongoing conversation with their children regarding sexuality and its related issues. When talking with your child, be sure to discuss the topics listed below, whether your child brings it up or not:
Let your child know what abstinence is (not having any type of sex) and the positive impact practicing abstinence will have on his/her life. Knowing that every child will not practice abstinence, it is necessary to discuss contraceptives and their effectiveness. REMEMBER, the decision whether or not to have sex is not yours; it is your child’s choice. Make sure that they are informed!
Keys to Success -- Talk WITH your child, not AT your child, and listen to what he/she says. Sharing the talking and listening roles helps strengthen the bond and trust factor between parent and child.
Provide your child with information about what “consent” means and the laws regarding sexual consent in your state. Teach your child how to say “yes” and “no” effectively and that “no” always means “no”.
Children need to know how their bodies work and what body parts they have. Discuss the changes that they will experience both physically and emotionally as they enter into puberty. Let them know that it is normal to experience changes in their bodies and emotions.
Help your child build strong and healthy relationships by sharing the characteristics necessary to nourish and build those types of relationships.
Send a strong message to your child that sexting is not okay and that sharing sexually explicit pictures or language with a minor is against the law and can carry serious consequences.
Provide your child with the tools and techniques necessary to set personal boundaries regarding sexual activity and other risky behaviors. Help him/her clarify when the time is right to have sex and the responsibilities that decision carries.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Talk with your child regarding the various types of STDs, how they can be contracted, symptoms, and how they can be treated and/or cured.
Keep lines of communication open.