As I began to touch on before, educating your children about sex is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. Sex is inevitable, and will happen for your child at some point. And believe it or not, I think that you have more power than you think you do in determining when they become sexually active. You also have even more say in whether they become responsible sexually active people.
Take it from someone who is on the opposite side of this. I’m not a parent, nor do I wish to become one any time soon, so that is not where my expertise lies. Instead, it comes from having a mother who tends to overshare. She likes to dissect the choices she makes as a parent with me, and therefore I have a unique perspective that tends to understand situations from both sides.
It’s funny to me that my mother made a choice as a parent to overshare in every aspect of life: talking explicitly about work, finances and friendships, even romantic relationships to some degree, but the one thing she always left out was sex. I understand that talking to your children about sex is scary, but it is also necessary.
In a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center found that spread out conversations, telling the truth, not assuming and not judging are most effective in creating a healthy active conversation about sex between parents and children. The researcher, Terri Fisher, makes an excellent point though in pointing out that, “talking to one’s teenagers about sex is not necessarily going to discourage those teenagers from having sex, but it does make it more likely that if those teenagers end up having sex, they will do so in a more responsible way.” That’s the thing. The goal isn’t to talk to your child about the dangers and try to persuade them to not engage in sex. Rather, it is to establish a healthy ongoing conversation. You start them young and make it a non-event so that it doesn’t become something forbidden, and therefore more enticing which leads to irrational decisions made in spite.
Studies much like one conducted by National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health find that “adolescents who reported feeling connected to parents and their family were more likely than other teens to delay initiating sexual intercourse.” This is what I mean when I say that sometimes parents begin to feel hopeless that their children are beginning to make choices that aren’t ultimately the best for them, when in reality the closer and more honest you are with your children, the less likely they will seek sexual experience before they are truly ready to do so. But another common misconception is that just because kids are having sex young, let’s say during high school, for example, doesn’t mean that they aren’t ready. Maybe, it’s just that the parents aren’t ready to come to terms with their children growing up.
So, no matter how uncomfortable or difficult it might be, I encourage any parent who reads this to start the conversation. It’s never too late or too early to do so.
In my next post, I will touch on the emotional side to sex. My mother always emphasized it to me, but do you think it’s as important as physical safe sex? Join the conversation and comment below.