How to talk to your teen when you suspect they are becoming sexually active…
Talking to your kids about sex is never easy but it’s an important conversation to have, especially if you suspect your teen is sexually active. It might just be an inkling you have, or you may have found evidence of sexual activity like some explicit emojis on a text thread. Your teen may be in a long-term relationship and you suspect they may have, or are about to, take things to the next level.
Read our helpful hints on how to handle a number of different situations that might arise…
WHAT TO DO IF:
You find contraception in your teen’s room.
Try to relax and take a deep breath. The discovery of contraception is potentially a huge shock to you and that’s a normal reaction. Do your best not to overreact in the moment and give yourself time to process your racing thoughts before taking action.
Sit down with your teen and start a calm dialogue. Remember that just because your teen has contraception, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are sexually active. Ask your teen about the contraception and if they’re having sex or are thinking about becoming sexually active. Talk to your teen about the importance of safe sex and STIs, as well as consent and responsibility. Make sure your teen knows that they should never feel pressured into having sex.
Your teen will probably feel awkward talking about sex (you may, too) but there will also be a sense of relief to know that you are there to answer any questions or concerns they might have. Keeping an honest dialogue open between the two of you means your teen is far more likely to come to you in the future with any problems.
WHAT TO DO IF:
Your teen is in a long-term relationship and you think things are getting serious.
Talk to your teen about their relationship and go over the importance of safe sex and consent. For more advice on talking to your teen about sex, read our How To Have The ‘Birds and Bees’ Talk guide here.
If your teen is sexually active and spends a lot of time in their bedroom with their partner you might want to set some ground rules like keeping the bedroom door open when they’re in there together. It can also be a good idea to talk to the parents of your teen’s partner to set joint ground rules to ensure the same safety measures are in place at both homes.
WHAT TO DO IF:
Your teen tells you they’re thinking about or are having sex.
You might feel shocked or even hurt and angry if your teen tells you they are thinking about having sex but try to keep a cool head. Now is a great opportunity to thank your teen for being responsible enough to talk to you about it and for not rushing into things. The two of you can discuss the various issues involved with having sex – not just the physical things like contraception but also the emotional factors involved.
Your teen may ask you to help them get contraception. You might feel uncomfortable with this or you may feel relieved that your teen is being safe and responsible. Whether you purchase condoms yourself, make an appointment for your daughter to see your GP for the contraceptive pill, or point them in the direction of your local sexual health clinic, make sure your teen knows the facts about STIs and how to guard themselves from sexually transmitted diseases. Get more information here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/what-is-contraception/
WHAT TO DO IF:
Your teen is underage and is sexually active.
Finding out your underage teen is having sex can be extremely worrying and distressing but it’s important to keep your emotions in check in order to have a calm, informed conversation with your teen. If you react angrily in the heat of the moment it will be more difficult to gain your teen’s trust and they’re more likely to shut down completely and refuse to engage. If your teen is open to talking, explain your concerns and talk to them about the importance of safe sex and protection.
If your teen is reluctant to talk to you about it, suggest they talk to another family member instead. Sometimes a teen might feel more comfortable discussing sex with someone of the same sex – for example, your son might feel more at ease chatting to his dad or an uncle. You could also get in touch with your local sexual health clinic to set up an appointment where your teen can talk to a sexual health advisor about everything from STIs and pregnancy to contraception and consent. If you have fears about abuse or consent, you can call your nearest sexual referral centre for help and guidance. Find your nearest centre here: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/other-services/Rape-and-sexual-assault-referral-centres/LocationSearch/364