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Talking to your teens about sex

May 1st, 2008 / 12 Comments


A mom asked me, “How do I talk to my daughter in college about sex?”

This mom wanted to warn her daughter not to have promiscuous sex.

As with many subjects that we want our kids to learn, a straight lecture is usually not the best method. Don’t we simply tune out people that we don’t want to listen to?

A better way to approach talking to your teen about sex is to ask questions. I don’t mean a lecture in question form like, “Don’t you know you can get STD if you have sex?

If we are good listeners and really ask questions that seek to understand them, our children will begin to open their hearts to us. Just remember don’t act shocked at what they might tell you!

Here are some questions to start the conversation. Follow each question with a why or why not.

  • What’s the pervasive attitude of sex among your friends?
  • Are your friends having sex?
  • Is anyone you know pregnant or had an abortion?
  • Have you ever been pressured to have sex?
  • How do you say no to that pressure?
  • Do you think it is unrealistic for a young person to remain a virgin until marriage?
  • What do you think makes a person ready to have sex?
  • Do you think sometimes people have sex just to impress friends?
  • Do you think it is important to save yourself before marriage?
  • Would you want your future spouse to have had sex before marrying you?

What other questions have you found to be useful?

Photo by desi.italy

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  1. Well, I must say that I would have many conversations at all different ages before college. In fact we used the whole JamieLynn Spears thing as a conversation starter. My 10 year old was adamant that teenagers should NOT be making babies ESPECIALLY if they aren’t married. So, we had a discussion about choices people make and what we think is right for our family.
    But, other things I would clarify would be basically, “What is sex?” There is a trend that it’s not sex if it’s oral. The teens would need to realize that they are still in danger from disease and emotional issues from this too.

  2. Good points, Nikki. And good for your 10-yr-old! She is more mature than many adults, like Spears’ mom!

  3. I agree that the discussion of sex should start way before college, but these are great questions to add to that discussion with your child matures. I’m also a firm believer that the greatest way to guide your children toward making good decisions about sex is to raise them to respect themselves and their bodies. Then they won’t view sex as a way to validate themselves or to make someone else like them.

  4. I beleive teaching kids about subjects like sex and drugs starts long before you start trying to teach them about such things. Teach them right from wrong at a young age and lead by example. I will never be a ‘do as I say not as I do’ type of parent.

  5. Attitudes and values are definitely taught throughout their lives. My daughter is in college now, and I am blessed that she does have her head on straight. I use those questions to open up dialogue to keep communication open and help her to keep strong.

  6. Well, I haven’t started asking questions yet, because my oldest is only nine. But, I’m going to start these conversations (and asking questions) early.

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  8. Well i believe that if you are an teen and you are having sex its kind of difficult to talk to your parents about sex because how can you let your mother know that your sexually active…..

  9. Jasmine: You are right. If the teen’s mom at least begins the conversation, I hope that maybe she might give you something to think about, what do you think?

  10. Jasmine, totally. I would never have talked to my mom about it. Shoot, I’m an adult and I still don’t want to talk to my mom like that and I have 2 kids. However, why do I feel that way? Because my parents just brushed all that aside and didn’t give me the feeling that I could talk to them about things. I’m hoping that my child will be able to be open. Not necessarily saying, “Hey, I had sex.”, but to at least come to me and say that they really feel strongly about this person and go from there. I don’t WANT all the details of it, but if they want to talk about it, then I need to be available.

  11. I love the suggestion to ask real questions, probably the best way to end up having a real conversation. I think it’s great advice on an issue you want to discuss with your child, not just sex.

  12. Gigi: Thanks. We parents have a tendency to lecture. So asking questions are a good way to start conversation.
    nikki and Jasmine: Yes, if our kids are willing at least to talk to us around the subject, that’s a start. Those questions in the post are aimed to be more impersonal so the topic is approached from a distance. Hopefully our teens will at least talk to us in some general way about sex.


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