Every stage of parenting comes with its own set of challenges and milestones.
At first, a parent cannot wait for their child to take their first steps. Then, it is only a matter of time before they experience the first day at school. While most of these milestones are met with anticipation, there is one that is often met with apprehension and dread. Generally, most parents avoid having discussions with their teenagers about sexuality out of a fear of awkwardness or worry that they might say the wrong thing.
While awkwardness is sure to happen, the truth is teenagers are getting their information about sex whether a parent discusses it or not. Unfortunately, when this information comes from their peers, it is easier for them to be misled. For this reason, it is important for parents to take the following ideas into consideration so you can be prepared to engage your teens in conversations that will address their concerns regarding their sexual development.
Choose the Right Time
While it may be tempting to tack this topic onto other difficult discussions, it is important to set aside a time that is specifically designated for discussing sexuality. Additionally, it is important to hold the conversation in a quiet place where a teenager will feel comfortable talking. Although it is a serious talk, it can also be helpful to keep the atmosphere casual. Some people find it helpful to talk in their teenager’s room as they tend to feel comfortable surrounded by their belongings. Teenagers are likely to be embarrassed by the conversation at first. Therefore, it is best to avoid holding the conversation in a public place such as at a restaurant.
Let Questions Guide the Topics
Many parents struggle with how to begin the initial conversation. They also worry about what topics they should cover. Both of these quandaries can be solved by simply starting the conversation with a few carefully designed questions. For example, a parent may ask their teenager about what their friends are saying about sex. They could also ask about a situation they may have viewed together on a television show or movie. Then, the parent should allow the teenager’s answers to guide the conversation. Letting the teen talk through the view of their friends can often allow them to ask difficult questions without feeling as though the spotlight is on them.
Provide Additional Resources
Before holding the conversation, a parent should have a few carefully selected resources available that reflect their beliefs. These can be print sources, such as books, or they can be websites that the teenager can visit when they need more information. Because a teenager may not be comfortable asking all of the questions that they may have, it is important to provide them with resources for finding more information after the conversation. After some time has passed, parents may follow up by asking their child if they had a chance to check out the resources that were provided. This could lead to a more in-depth conversation.
Break it Down
The topic of sexuality is very diverse. Therefore, it can be hard to fully cover everything a teenager needs to know in one session. In order to avoid having them become overwhelmed, it can be best to have short conversations and focus on a basic concept. Safe sex practices, birth control and sexual preferences are all topics to be broached in a series of conversations. Additionally, it is best to never consider the discussion of sexuality is over. Teenagers may come back with questions as their knowledge of the subject increases. For this reason, parents should always be available to talk. Putting the topic off until later may mean that a teenager will no longer be open to conversation.
Talking with teens about sexuality may be one of the more challenging aspects of parenting. However, it is also one of the most important. For this reason, parents should approach the topic of sexuality with openness and confidence while looking for opportunities to engage their teenager in natural conversations about any questions they may have regarding sex as they approach adulthood.