How do you talk to your teen or tween about sex?

By: Contributors

Going through the teen years with your child calls for developing yet another set of parenting skills. Teens have to know and understand many things in order to make the right choices on the way to becoming responsible adults. Sex is ubiquitous in the media -- in many different ways, some subtle and some not -- but talking about it is often awkward for parents. Sex education is taught in schools, but you are your children's most reliable and accurate source of information. Ideally you should have an open line of communication with children from an early age, so that they are comfortable with asking questions and discussing potentially embarrassing issues about growing up, puberty and sex.

It's natural to feel uncomfortable when talking about sex with your teen, but honesty is a great way to open up a conversation; share how you feel with your child while being clear on how you stand in discussing responsible sexual behavior, birth control options and potential risks in an objective manner. Teens are under a lot of pressure, and parents have to know how to listen and not just lecture and scare their children in the hope that they might refrain from sexual activity. Sex education for teens covers a lot of tough issues that must be addressed if you want your teen to be aware and knowledgeable about things from birth control to homosexuality to date rape. Part of a discussion on responsible sexual behavior in teens should deal with peer pressure, a major factor in adolescence. Safe sex and contraception, issues of trust and respect toward partners, as well as parents' expectations regarding their teen's behavior and attitude toward sex are matters that have to be addressed.


Your teen is listening and understands, even if it often seems like your opinions don't count. Letting your teens know that their parents care enough to approach touchy and embarrassing issues, and showing them that open communication is always available, is an important step toward raising responsible adults.