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Talking to Your Teen About Sex

While it may feel like teens take on more of what their friends and media say as their biggest influences, studies have found that parents are actually the biggest influence on teens’ attitude towards sex.

Just like any other important conversation, teens need to felt heard and understood to open up more around the topic of sex. While ultimately the decision surrounding engaging in sexual activity is up to your teen alone, having the conversation with them about the different impacts sexual activity can have on their physical, emotional, and mental health can guide them to make healthy choices in regards to sex.

Peer Pressure

Encourage your teen to feel confident to set boundaries for themselves in regards to sex, and to stick to those boundaries. Psychology Today reported that while 63% of teens believed that waiting to have sex was a good idea, they still engaged in sex at an early age. Peer pressure was found to be a significant impact on the decision to engage in sexual activity. So while parental influence has been found to be the main influence on teens’ attitudes towards sex, many teens are influenced by their peers in regard to their engagement in sexual activity, regardless of their beliefs.

One of the biggest tools your teen can have in dealing with peer pressure is your support. Knowing that you respect your teen and their boundaries can encourage teens to stand firmer in their beliefs. Talking with your teen about potential situations and their response to them ahead of time in a safe, understanding environment can help them gain confidence in facing potentially awkward or difficult situations with their friends.

For more tips on speaking to children or teens about peer pressure, check out the below link.

https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/kids-family/talking-to-children-about-peer-pressure#section-3

Consent

Talking about consent has been a big topic in our society recently, and rightly so. Consent is the most important part of sexual activity- and this means the consent of both people involved. Not only is it important to talk to your teen about how to ask for and understand the consent of their partner, but it’s also important to emphasise to your teen that they can and should feel comfortable both giving and denying consent. Again, talking with your teen about potential situations they may face can help them understand the different ways they may ask for or respond to consent.

Remind your teen that consent is not only needed for sex, but any kind of physical intimacy with a partner. Having the discussion around consent can also help your teen feel more confident in initiating the conversation of consent with any potential partners.

A great video that discusses the appropriate ways of gaining and understanding consent can be found below

STIs and STDs

While speaking with your teen about sexually transmitted infections and diseases may feel awkward, it’s an important conversation to ensure that your teen stays physically healthy. You don’t need to know everything about STIs and STDs; starting the conversation with them about it can help make your teen aware of the reality of the impacts of sexual activity on their health. By having the discussion in a calm, informative manner can also help remove the shame surrounding contracting an STI or STD and will also help your teen feel comfortable enough to approach you or their doctor in regards to being tested or treated for either.

Need more info? To share with your teen about different STIs and STDs, check out this webpage below.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a vital topic to bring up when speaking with your teen about sex. Discussing pregnancy can help your teen feel informed on the kinds of contraception available to them, and in discussing and using these with their partner. Emphasising the responsibilities that come with sex, including pregnancy, can help your teen make healthier, wiser decisions regarding sex. Provide them with information in regards to contraception, and also remind them that despite what the media, their peers, or even their hormones may be telling them, they can also choose to abstain from sexual activity- the decision is theirs alone to make.

Once again, reminding your teen that you love and support them through any situation they may find themselves in is important to ensure your teen is open and honest with you about the different challenges they may face- including pregnancy.