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Tips (and Rewards) for Tackling “The Talk”

Hello, PATH parents!

Spring is when nature awakes from a dormant season, and similarly, many of our teens find themselves in an “awakening” season, becoming more and more interested in “grown up” subjects like sex. For many of us parents, sex is a topic we would rather skip indefinitely (without having to actually spell it out for our teens). As terribly awkward conversations go, “The Talk” and subsequent talks about sex, certainly rank TOP on the list!

However, we as parents have the opportunity to take what is awkward and turn it into a way to strengthen our parent-child relationship. Yes, talking about sex can actually bring you closer with your teen, even if your teen turns crimson red on occasion and deep down you as the parent wish this were someone else’s responsibility!

Think about it: Of all the topics we want our teens to have a healthy understanding about, sex is again top of the list! This is an area where wrong ideas and the use of incorrect information can be LIFE-CHANGING (and not in a good way). We have the chance with this albeit-cringy topic to show our kids that we are there for them even when it’s not easy, that we care enough about them to push past our own comfort levels and make sure that our teens are truly prepared for life. We can turn a dreaded scenario into a great way to reinforce our role as a reliable source of information (and wisdom) that our teens can trust and benefit from as they grow into healthy adults.

3 Helpful Tips for Talking About Sex With Your Teen:

  • Keep it matter-of-fact. The more that you can hold conversations about sex in a matter-of-fact, medical, and educational way, the less awkward it will feel. You could consider, How would a doctor explain this? Then proceed in a way that simply informs on important processes and facts.
  • Keep it simple. Obviously, when talking to your teen about this sensitive topic, you don’t have to share EVERYTHING you know yourself. Simply share enough for them to have a good understanding of dynamics for their level of maturity and stage in life.
  • Keep it meaningful. Teens like the feeling of being trusted with “grown up” information, so you can make your talks together even more meaningful by sharing insights they might not gain from same-age friends or (Heaven forbid) a Google search! For example you could share the emotional bond that happens when two people become physically intimate or the benefits of abstaining from this experience until one is ready for the responsibilities and risks that accompany it. Share insights that also represent your specific family values (i.e., being transparent with family about the relationships in one’s life or waiting until marriage/adulthood for this experience).

I have the privilege of talking with teens often and have heard them share that while they are a little embarrassed sometimes, they are also inwardly relieved that their parents are upfront and frank regarding sex, grateful to not remain naive during their teen years.

We can use periodic conversations about sex to show our teens that we can calmly handle the “hard stuff” in life, that we are willing to tackle what’s uncomfortable to truly prepare them for their future. Let’s try to be the source that our teens value and trust the most, preparing them for the realities of adult life and for successful relationships in their future. Let’s reap the rewards of bravely tackling “the talk,” which are: our teens having a medically-accurate and age-appropriate understanding of health/sex as well as a closer relationship with us.

As always, we at PATH are here to support and reinforce your great mentoring! That is why we provide lots of quality resources for your teens, like our PATH FACTS segment on social media, presenting medically-accurate facts about sex and health that can potentially dispel any harmful myths your teens may be believing at any given time.

We are cheering you on as you keep communicating with your teens at home, equipping them to make the best choices possible as they work through their teenage years!

In the parenting trenches with you,

Lisa Raftery