Sexuality is a fundamental aspect of humanity yet many parents do not speak to their children about sex and sexuality. When parents do, they often speak to their children about the negative aspects of sex; teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, rape or cohesive sexual encounters and we often fail to highlight the positive aspects of sexual relationships; intimate conversations, loving relationships, positive expressions of showing affection.
In order to change the statistics of unintended teenage pregnancy, high rates of sexually transmitted infections and people’s unfamiliarity with their bodies and instead help young people learn how to express themselves in safe and caring ways, we need to expand our skills and increase the dialogue on these issues.
At PPSNE, It is our goal to help parents be the primary sexuality educator of their children by providing the skills and supports parents need to have these conversations. We know these conversations can sometimes be uncomfortable because all weren’t raised speaking about these topics with our parents. Most parents will agree that they want the best for their children and who doesn’t want their child to grow up to be a healthy adult with a healthy, fulfilling sex life?
To be clear, having these conversations does not mean we are telling our children to be sexually active or that we are sharing our personal sexual histories with them, instead, we are offering to our children the opportunity to know that they have someone who they can trust to ask these questions and who will give them accurate, age appropriate information.
As part of these conversations, we offer some tips to ensure more successful conversations:
· What values or messages do you want to convey? Thinking through our own values about sexuality can help us be clear when we talk with our children.
· Give truthful and accurate information. It’s important to convey our own values about sex and sexuality. It’s also important to prepare our children to make responsible choices whenever they become sexually active.
· Forget “the big talk.” Talking with children about sexuality is a lifelong conversation. Don’t worry if you haven’t started yet. It’s never too late. Just don’t try to “catch
up” all at once. The most important thing is to be open and available whenever a child wants to talk.
· Don’t be discouraged if you’re uncomfortable. It’s common for parents and children to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable when talking to one another about sex. Owning up to that can help relieve the uncomfortable feelings.
· Don’t expect to know all the answers. We don’t always have all the answers and that is perfectly fine. Use this opportunity to find the answers together and talk about what we’ve learned.
· Look for “teachable moments.” Every day, life provides lots of opportunities for talking about sexuality. When listening to the radio or watching television, we are offered opportunities to discuss romantic situations or images. Having a conversation starter can make the conversation seem more natural.
· Make the conversation age appropriate. Providing children with information that is age appropriate makes it easier for them to understand that sex and sexuality are a natural part of human and emotional development.
· Spend more time listening than talking, and get to know the world our children live in. Listening to children shows that we’re interested in and respect what they have to say. We don’t always have to agree with what we hear, but it is important to pay attention to what they say, and try to understand their world.
· Try to understand what motivates teens. It’s important to communicate with youth about the importance of delaying sexual behavior until they are old enough to protect themselves and their partners. To do that well, it’s helpful to understand and keep in mind the reasons teens give for having or delaying sex.. We can talk with our teens about what motivates them around sex so we can better understand how to help them make the best choices for themselves.
The month of October marks “Let’s Talk” month. Together, let’s start talking and creating an environment where frank, open conversations about sex and sexuality are the norm.
For more information and for resources to help you be a better sexuality educator to your children visit: http://bit.ly/Pzsr5N