A simple guide to having THAT talk with your teen…
So, it’s time for the all-important sex talk. Whether you’re feeling incredibly embarrassed or completely confused about where to start or what to talk about, we’ve got you covered. Read these helpful tips to ensure your ‘birds and the bees’ talk is as straightforward and pain-free as possible, for you and your teen!
We’re not talking about an extensive slide show or detailed plans, but it can definitely help to jot down some notes before your talk. Think about the subjects you think your teen needs to know about the most or the areas that are especially important to focus on. For example, you might suspect that your teen girl is sexually active and want to talk about birth control and safe sex. Perhaps your teen boy has been watching porn online and you’re worried that he will have a skewed view of sex.
Jot down the topics you want to discuss with your teen to keep you on track during your chat. If the chat veers off in a different direction, don’t worry. Let it flow and you might find yourself talking about an issue you hadn’t even thought to cover. You can always use your notes to steer the conversation back to the main topics once you’ve discussed the occasional curveball.
It can also help to plan when and where you will have your talk with your teen. Aim to find a place where you won’t be disturbed by other siblings or family members. Choose a time when your teen is relaxed and isn’t distracted by schoolwork or friends. You can also ask them to put their mobile away while you have your chat to make sure you have their full attention with minimal distractions.
It wouldn’t hurt to do a little brushing up on your own sexual health knowledge before you talk to your teen. Yes, the basics are still the same but there could be a lot of new changes to sexual advice or contraception that’s passed you by. You can do a little research online to arm yourself with the facts – try NHS https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/sexual-health/
You can’t prepare for every possible question and that’s totally fine. If your teen does ask you something and you really don’t have a clue, be honest and say that you don’t know the answer, but you will do what you can to find out. You can look it up together, if they’re willing, or you can do it yourself at a later date and give them the information.
Be prepared to correct some information your teen might have previously thought of as fact. There’s a lot of fake news out there and it’s not at all surprising if your teen is armed with a lot of misinformation or confusion.
Make sure safe sex is at the heart of everything you talk about – we don’t just mean contraception and STIs; we’re also talking about the importance of consent, limits and assault. You might have touched on these topics before, but it can never hurt to go over them again. Focus on all the various ways your teen can keep themselves and their partner/s safe.
Start as you mean to go on: with complete honesty. If you feel embarrassed or flustered, tell your teen. Chances are, they’ll feel a degree of embarrassment, too. Try to refrain from using general or slang terms for body parts if you can and keep it factual to reduce any chance of confusion. You want to make sure your teen is getting all the correct information they need to arm them with everything they need to make clear, informed decisions.
Remember, there’s no such thing as ‘normal’ sex and not all sex happens between a woman and a man. Don’t get too caught up in labels or putting people in boxes – focus on important issues like safe sex, consent, love, trust and respect. Try to be as open-minded as you can.
“BUT I ALREADY KNOW EVERYTHING!”
Teens will often try to rebuke you with anguished assurances that they already know everything there is to know. While they may have gleaned a fair bit of sexual information from school, friends and online, there is a high chance that they are uninformed about certain aspects of sex or, worse still, have been told the wrong information.
If your teen tries to squirm away, ask that they simply hear you out. Explain that although you know they are pretty clued-up, there are a few things you just want to talk over to make sure they have all the info they need. Don’t worry if you still don’t get much of a response. At least you now know that you have imparted as much knowledge and advice as you can. You can encourage them to ask questions, if they have any, and let them know that they can always come back to you later if something pops into their head.
KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING
When you reach the end of your sex talk, you might feel a wave of relief that it’s finally over but try to avoid closing down the lines of communication completely. Let your teen know that you’ll always be on hand to talk about sex whenever they have any questions or concerns.
ARM THEM WITH MORE INFO
Encourage your teen to expand their knowledge on the issues you talk about. Make yourself available to talk about any subjects they want to know more about. You can also point them in the direction of helpful websites, making sure they know which ones are authentic and offer legitimate advice.
For more help: Download this helpful NHS leaflet https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Talkingaboutsex/Documents/DCSFtalktoyourchild.pdf