Even in modern times like these, sex is still an evasive subject in many homes. Many parents avoid talking to their teens about sex, leaving them to find this information from the internet, peers, and other media sources.
In 2019, 38 percent of high school students had ever had sex. Even though this was a decline compared to the previous years, sex is still a major issue among teens. Given that the use of condoms stood at 54 percent in the same year, teens risk experiencing serious health risks, such as STDs and early pregnancies.
As such, parents need to identify the right approach to talking to their teens about sex, sexual health, and relationships. This is vital to provide them with valuable information on sex. As a result, they’re more likely to make informed decisions about their relationships and think about their own values.
Read on to learn more!
Sexual responsibility means making safer choices and informed decisions on sex. While abstinence is part of this, it should be voluntary. Abstinence can have adverse effects on mental health if it’s involuntary.
Therefore, it’s easy to identify sexually responsible teens through their actions, decisions, behaviors, and principles. They understand that they have the choice to be sexually active or not. If they choose not to, they have a reason for that.
Sexually responsible teens communicate with their partners about their choices and desires in matters of sex. This includes giving consent every time their partners what to engage in sexual activity.
They also understand the types of sexual activities, sex methods, and contraceptives they need to use. Most importantly, they understand that no one should persuade or force them to engage in sexual activity against their will.
While sex education is offered in schools, parents shouldn’t count on classroom education alone. Bringing sex education at home is essential to help your teen understand sex and sexual health. You should aim to equip your teens with valuable information based on your experiences.
It’s also vital to understand that sex education is always a parent’s responsibility. By providing essential information to your teens right at home, it’s possible to prevent them from falling victim to the widely-believed misconceptions about sex.
Here are the benefits of sex education:
Teens tend to talk to different people, including browsing the internet, to understand more about sex and sexuality. This puts them at risk of contrasting information and views. By establishing yourself as the central source of sexual information, you can help your teen make better decisions and avoid misleading views.
Talk to them about condoms, contraception, and sexual activities to help them understand their options when they decide to be sexually active. Encourage them to delay sexual activities until they’re ready. Also, remind them that abstinence is the best method for preventing STIs, HIV, and unwanted pregnancy.
Today, relationships have been normalized in teens’ lives. As such, your focus is to educate them on maintaining a healthy relationship whenever they opt to get into one. About one in 10 high school students usually experience physical violence from their partners.
They need to know how to deal with partners who get violent when denied sexual activities. Teens should be able to identify and understand unhealthy patterns in a relationship and determine if the relationship is safe for them. Additionally, they need to know how to handle people who get violent when rejected.
An essential part of sex education is helping teens understand their bodies. It’s vital to help them understand the basics of puberty and the changes they will experience. This allows them to be ready for the changes in their body image, which are likely to come with even more attention.
Remind that that crossing the puberty stage comes with even more sexual advances. They need to know how to say no to unwanted sexual activity without offending the other party. Most importantly, teens need to learn how to value their bodies.
Sex education aims to inform teens about the negative consequences of sexual activity. It helps them understand that making the wrong choices in sex can lead to different outcomes, such as STIs, HIV, and teen pregnancy. It might also affect their academic success and performance in school.
Nearly 3 in 10 American teens become pregnant before the age of 20. About 82 percent of these cases are unintended. Also, youth aged between 13 to 24 years account for 21 percent of new HIV infections, and most of them get it through sexual transmission. Parents need to help their teens understand how such consequences can affect the quality of their lives.
Parents must also accept that their children can be involved in sexual violence and other activities that cause humiliation to others. In the US, girls aged between 16 and 19 are four times more likely to be victims of sexual assault.
As a parent, you can teach your children how to respect others while emphasizing the elements of sexual violence. Remind them that engaging in any kind of sexual violence is wrong and that it’s not okay to force anyone into a relationship or sexual activity against their will.
Also, it’s essential to help teens that have been victims of sexual violence. They need to know how to respond to perpetrators of sexual violence and how to seek help.
Nowadays, sex is a staple topic in entertainment, news, and advertising. Parents must acknowledge that sex is an everyday topic that’s hard to control or moderate. Therefore, identifying the right approaches to sex education is key to enlightening teens and neutralizing the effects of misleading information.
The best approach to sex education is to cover tough topics that confront teens every day. It’s easier for them to make informed decisions when they have the right information at their fingertips.
Many teens turn to early sex due to different reasons, including loneliness, curiosity, and peer pressure. Teens need to know that any sexual activity before the age of 15 is considered early. While engaging in sexual activity while 15 to 19 is deemed to be normal, they have the option to wait.
Remind them that there’s no rush in engaging in sexual activity. In fact, they’ll be able to make sound decisions the longer they wait. Also, they need to know that sex is not the only way to show affection or prove love in a relationship. There are other ways of expressing affection, such as spending time together with your partner, holding hands, taking long walks, dancing, hugging, and kissing.
Most teens are forced to engage in early sexual activity due to fear or obligation to their partner. You need to tell them that no one should ever force them to engage in sexual activity if they don’t want to. They must understand that any forced sex is rape.
Therefore, if they have decided to abstain from sex, they need to inform their partners and give them their reasons. Loving and tolerant partners will be okay with their decisions, and they will be willing to support them as well as respect their decision.
Teens need to know that no always means no. Additionally, advise them that drugs and alcohol impair their judgment, leading to unintended sexual activities. So, they should be careful whenever they’re at social gatherings where alcohol is available.
At some point in life, many teens tend to question their sexual orientation. In most cases, this is usually a personal affair, and they find it challenging to share with anyone. Help them understand that it’s okay to question your orientation when just beginning exploring sexual attraction.
Let them know that such feelings can change over time, and if they don’t, then it’s okay. Don’t be negative when they tell you that they’re gay. Many LGBT youths lack family acceptance, and this affects their mental health, putting them at risk of abuse, depression, and suicide.
You must show teens that no matter what, you’ll always be there to support them.
Since teens spend most of their teenage lives in school, education institutions play a crucial role in developing sexually responsible teens. They provide health services to teens, and this includes sexual health services (SHS).
Schools have direct daily contacts with more than 20 million teens, making such institutions vital in delivering sexual health services. One way is through the Condom Availability Programs (CAPs), which began in the early 1990s. By making condoms freely available to teens, it’s possible to prevent unintended pregnancies and STIs.
In addition to schools, several organizations provide sexual education for teens, including:
Encouraging teens to join such organizations can improve their focus on productive activities, such as education, sports, and music. That way, they’re unlikely to experience distractions that will eventually lead them to early sexual activity.
Sex education for teens is a continuous topic until they become adults. Therefore, it is impossible to address everything in one long “sex talk” and be done with it. It’s vital to regularly talk to teens about challenging and uncomfortable topics, such as pregnancy, pornography, and musterbation.
What matters is how you approach them. As a parent, it’s vital to make it comfortable for teens to share their experiences and thoughts on sex. Getting them to speak up eases conversations on sex, making it possible for you to guide them accordingly.
Whenever you’re talking to teens about sex, keep in mind that sex is still a sensitive topic. They’re likely to open up when you speak to them in private. So it’s essential to find the right place and time for such conversations. You just can’t confront them anywhere and expect them to be responsive.
As noted before, teens engage in certain activities due to a variety of reasons. In cases of early sexual activities, it’s easy to be quick in judgment before listening to their opinion. Be considerate and let them share their story or what they feel about their actions or sex in general.
Remember, a “sex talk” is not a lecture. Even though you might have a lot to share with your teens about sex, don’t overwhelm them with long hours of conversations. Keep your talks simple and straightforward. When they ask a question, be upfront in your responses to help them find the right answers to their questions.
The truth is, it’s still uncomfortable for many parents to talk about love and sex with their teens. However, keep in mind that failure to do so makes it impossible for you to protect your children from misleading information.
Even with sex education in schools, it’s vital to understand that children might not have other reliable information sources. The quality, availability, and accuracy of sex education vary across different schools. As such, you need to have these conversations at home.
Raising sexually responsible teens is simple when you create an enabling environment for sex conversations. Make it possible for your children to approach you on matters of sex. Most importantly, provide them with accurate and insightful answers to their questions.
Remind them that sex is a huge responsibility, and it comes with different consequences. You should also stress the importance of safe sex. Your support and guidance are vital in raising a sexually responsible adult. Always be candid about your feelings and speak honestly when you’re engaging your children in sex talks.