As a parent, you play the most important role in the life of your child. Raising a child is one of the greatest jobs you will ever have–and one of the hardest. We are challenged every day with a wide range of issues that are often hard for children to understand, and for adults to explain.*
Why talk with my child about love, sex and relationships?
Parents should be the main sex educators of their children. Even when you think they aren't listening, talking about love, sex and relationships with your child can:
- Clearly define family values;
- Build communication skills and create a bond between parent and child;
- Help them feel at ease about who they are and their sexuality;
- Help them cope with their feelings and deal with peer pressure;
- Help them take charge of their lives and having loving relationshps;
- Help protect them from sexual abuse.
- Love should make people feel good, safe and wanted;
- Bodies are different sizes, shapes and colors –and that is ok;
- Their bodies belong to them;
- There is a difference between a "good" touch and a "bad" touch.
- How to develop, maintain and end (if necessary) friendships;
- Family members' roles and duties;
- How to be themselves without feeling the need to act a certain way within their gender;
- That people can come from different homes and no single one is the "right" one.
- How to make and maintain friends and relationships;
- What can happen if they have sex including teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs);
- Basic human anatomy, including reproduction;
- About sexual abuse, abusive relationships and ways to protect themselves;
- About family values, community and peer norms regarding dating;
- About puberty and what to expect physically, emotionally and psychologically as they mature.
- It's okay to wait to have sex—not everyone is doing it;
- They are responsible for their choices, behaviors and personal values;
- About birth control options (if appropriate);
- Details about STIs and HIV and how to prevent them.
10 Tips for starting the talk
- Start early. Use this "window of opportunity" and talk with your children early and often about important issues like love, sex and relationships.
- Start the talk. Don't count on your child to come to you with questions—begin the conversation yourself.
- Create an open dialogue. It's up to YOU to create the kind of home in which your child can ask you questions about love, sex and relationships.
- Talk about love, sex and relationships. It is normal to feel uneasy talking with your child about love, sex and relationships. Educate yourself so you can provide accurate information.
- Share your values. When talking with your child about love, sex and relationships, remember to talk about your family's values.
- Listen as much as you talk. Listening carefully lets your child know they are important. This can lead to valuable discussions about a wide variety of sensitive issues.
- Be honest. Whatever your child's age, they need honest answers and information. Honesty will build trust for further talks.
- Be patient. Let your child think at their own pace. Listen daily to what they are saying about people, places and situations they are in that may be unhealthy or give cause for concern.
- Use "teachable moments." Moments in everyday life are a perfect chance to begin talking. Use TV shows and commercials as a way to start a talk about teen pregnancy, peer pressure or relationships.
- Talk about it again...and again...and again. Most children only want small bits of information at anyone time—especially about heavy topics like love, sex and relationships. They will not learn everything from a single discussion—give more than just "the talk"!
Get more tips on how to talk to your child about love, sex and relationships at NotRightNowSC.org/parents.
*Source: Talking with Your Kinds About Tough Issues (2013). Information accessed from www.talkingwithkids.org