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Most of us remember the “birds and the bees” conversation with our parents. We were uncomfortable, they were probably stressed, it was a lot of information and we tried to forget it. As a parent yourself, you now have the opportunity to change that memory for your kids. While teens learn about sex education in class, it is a parent’s responsibility to teach them beyond that and about healthy sexuality.
Leslie Noble, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore know how difficult this topic can be. It is important to have the talk earlier so your kids can be better prepared as they head into their teenage years. But know that it is never too late to have a conversation with your kid.
To start the conversation – and keep it ongoing – Dr. Noble shares ways to get started:
Pre-teens may not be sexually active, but they think they know more than they really do. Take an opportunity to first learn what they know and correct them on what they are misinformed about. When they inform you with what they think something means, do not judge them or make them feel silly for thinking that. Offer “I could see how you could think that, but did you know it actually means…” During the conversation, highlight the fact that sex is not just physical connection – but an emotional connection too.
No matter how awkward talking about sex with your teen may be, always discuss it with them. While they probably do not want to admit it, teenagers sometimes want advice and support from their parents. The conversations can take place in the car so you do not have to make eye contact – or while you are cleaning up after dinner. It is important for your teen to understand that the media is not accurate – the majority of young people are not sexually active. Help them understand that sex should be about mutual consent and no one should pressure them into it.
If you need further guidance on how to have this conversation with your teen, talk to their doctor. They will have some talking points and reading material for you and your teen to go over.
How did you approach the conversation with your kid?