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Sexual Health

Tips For Parents… Talking With Your Teen About Sexuality

Get a game plan
Talk things over with your partner/spouse if you have one, to help you clarify issues and the messages you want to give. Choose a time when you both are relaxed and have time to talk. Find a regular time to be with each of your children so that there are built-in opportunities for discussion and sharing.

Know what values you want to be part of your family rules
Share your beliefs with your teen. The values you live by, and the discussions you have are important. Encourage your son/daughter to set his/her own limits. Stress the importance of being able to clearly communicate to a partner.

Respect each other’s privacy
Make it clear that you want to discuss information, choices and opinions – not their sexual experiences. You also do not have to share your personal experiences unless you are comfortable doing so and can use them as a teachable moment.

Try to listen calmly, even when there is a difference of opinion. If you really listen to your child, you’ll learn a lot about what they think. They’ll also feel heard, and that goes a long way towards building their self-esteem. Be willing to stop, and to discuss the topic again later if the discussion gets too heated.

Talk about the facts and more
Teens also want to know about relationships, decision making, alternatives to sexual intercourse, how to talk openly and honestly about sex with others, contraception, safer sex, sexual orientation and sexual assault. Talk about abuse and assault with your teen. If your teen discloses assault, remember to support them and let them know they are not to blame.

Know you don’t have to have ALL of the answers
Sometimes we are not ready for questions or challenges. It’s all right to say, "That’s a good question. I need to think about my answer for a while" or " I don’t know, but give me a day or two to find out." At other times you may need to reconsider a response you’ve given earlier by saying, "I thought about what we talked about yesterday and I want to change something I said".

Get ready to blush and laugh
Don’t be afraid to say you’re embarrassed or uncomfortable. Often just saying so will make you and your teen more comfortable. Use your sense of humour in these situations. A little laugh can release a lot of tension.

Based on information prepared by the Sexuality Education Resource Centre in Winnipeg & Brandon MB