Are you dreading the moment when your child becomes sexually active?
You’re not alone. Many parents don’t know how to approach the topic, but you should start thinking about it sooner than later because it will come up eventually.
Finding out that your child may be sexually active isn’t easy for a parent, but this is when parenting is most important. This day is going to happen, so it makes sense for you to prepare and know how to deal with the situation, especially when your child is still a teenager.
Here are tips for parenting sexually active teenagers.
1. Begin the conversation early on
There is no reason why you should wait until your teen is sexually active to start talking about sex. It pays to initiate the conversation when your child is younger. Most parents start talking about that to their kids and at the end of elementary school.
First, explain what sex is. Your child might be confused by information acquired from their peers. Let your kid know that you’re open to talking about sex. This is a smart move because once they become sexually active, you will already have established an honest relationship and they might talk to you before they decide to have sex for the first time.
2. Ask questions
If you suspect that your child may be engaging in sexual activity, it’s time to start the conversation. You can do that by asking open-ended questions, for example: “Could you tell me more about your relationship with X?”.
This is a much better approach than being judgmental. If you find evidence like condoms in your child’s room, accusing them in the vein of “How could you have done that?” makes no sense. Make sure that you know the whole story before offering your perspective.
3. Control your emotions
This is a difficult moment for all parties involved, so do your best to get emotional distance from the situation. You may want to respond right at the moment when you find out that your teen is sexually active, but that might not be the best idea.
You have a lot of feelings and thoughts running through your head, so it’s best that you take some time to think things over before addressing the subject. If you do that, you’ll manage to stay calm and sensibly talk to your kid. This is an emotional issue, but emotions should be left out of the conversation.
4. Express your values and beliefs
When talking about sex with your child, tell them what your values, expectations, and beliefs are regarding that area of life. Talk about your family values and how they are involved in the choices your teen is making right now.
For example, you can say something along this line: “In our family, we consider that type of intimacy as something serious. There are serious natural consequences that may occur from the choices you make here. But we care about you, and we want to make sure that you know how to make right decisions”. Show your stance, but also show support.
5. Be direct when talking about sex
There is no better way to indicate that you’re willing to have an honest conversation about sex than being direct. That’s how you show your child that is important to speak openly about the topic.
For example, if you learned that your teen is having sex with their partner, tell them that you’re aware of that and that you need to know that they are using some form of birth control.
Let your child know that you’re there for them if they ever need to talk. Be sure to educate your child as well, for instance, let them know that oral sex is sex too and carries some risks as well.
6. Let them know about medical consequences
This is the most important part of your conversation.
Make sure that your child has had access to a doctor who can test them for STI’s, help them obtain a Pap smear or a pregnancy test – and, most importantly, birth control. Your child should know that they can rely on a healthcare provider in this area.
Educate your child about sexually transmitted infections. Tell them that many diseases don’t show any symptoms. Let them know what the best way to protect themselves from such diseases is too. Your teen may have access to the Internet, but you have no guarantee that they are looking at the right resources.
7. Provide your kid with birth control
Make it clear that your child needs to use birth control if they’re sexually active. If you provide it, you can be sure that your child and their partner is safe. Even if you don’t agree with their choice to have sex, you should do your best here: for example, give them condoms. It doesn’t matter whether they are male or female, anyone who is sexually active should have access to some form of birth control.
If your daughter is having sex with her boyfriend, it’s a very good idea to take her to a doctor and get prescription birth control. The doctor will help your child decide what type of birth control would work best for them.
8. Set boundaries
It’s a great idea to talk openly about sex with your teen, but that doesn’t mean you’re no longer in charge of what’s happening in your household. Be sure to give your child boundaries to help them learn responsibility and respect.
For example, you can tell your child that they’re not allowed to have sex in your house. You can keep enforcing curfew too. Just because your child is sexually active, it doesn’t mean that they’re adult and can choose whatever they want to do.
9. Be open-minded
Even if you don’t agree that initiating sexual activity is the right thing to do, put your personal feelings aside and discuss sex with your teen in an open way. You can say that you don’t personally agree with their decision to have sex, but that you love them and will support them no matter what. Try to keep an open mind and be understanding. Just because you chose to wait for marriage, it doesn’t mean that this option is realistic for your teen.
Use these 9 tips to talk about sex with your child and create an open channel of communication that is based on honesty and trust.