It’s awkward as balls to discuss sex with kids. But parents need to talk with their kids about sex. Constantly. If my teen wasn’t in school right now I’d be blathering on about teen pregnancy statistics and why it’s important to respect his female friends. Talking about sex with your teens isn’t always easy. And it needs to start well before they are teenagers.
All of us have different parenting styles. All of us have different morals and personal beliefs when it comes to what we want for our kids. My viewpoint is that all though I’m pro-choice (safe, legal and rare) I don’t want any of my kids to go through abortions, whether they are the patient or by fathering a child. I don’t want my children to have babies before they are old enough. “Old enough” to me means I want them to be in a very committed long-term partnership, married, or have the means necessary to be a single parent. I want them to have their careers underway. I want them to be able to afford a child. I want them to travel across Europe, have their heart broken a few times, fall in love a few times, make stupid mistakes, take chances on happiness, and give back something to this great big world before they bring a child into it. This may not happen, but as a mom it’s a wish that I make on stars before I fall asleep at night.
I cannot guarantee that my kids won’t experience an unwanted pregnancy. But I sure as hell can do everything in my power to help prevent one, including talking to them about sex. A new study by Planned Parenthood and the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health at New York University andÂ Family CircleÂ magazine in conjunction with Let’s Talk Month published a survey with some surprising findings in USA Today:
– 42% of parents say they’ve talked to their teens “many times” about how to say no to sex. But just 27% of teens say parents have talked that often.
– 48% of parents say they’ve talked “many times” to their teens about when sex should or shouldn’t take place; 29% of teens agreed.
– 29% of parents say they’ve talked “many times” to their teens about birth control methods; 35% of teens say their parents “never” or just “once” discussed the issue.
Less than half of parents in this study of 2,000 parents is not enough. It’s not enough if we want to help stop unwanted pregnancies. It’s not enough if we want to help stop the cycle of poverty that goes along with underage single mothers. It’s not enough if we want to keep our kids disease free.
Let’s Talk Month should really be changed to Let’s Talk Day, but the website has some wonderful resources for both parents and their kids about how we can open up a dialogue about sex and sexuality with each other.
- All of us are growing and changing throughout our lives.
- Everyone develops in his/her own way.
- Your way is unique and special and valid.
- Everybody’s body is private and deserves respect.
- Sexuality is a beautiful giftâ€”something to be handled wisely.
There are also downloadables and articles on everything from GLBTQ issues to religion and spirituality. And I think it’s a great website for sharing the conversation with your kids, starting with your toddlers.
I’m not saying talking with your kids about sex is always easy. It can be embarrassing and uncomfortable for both the parents and their kids. But it’s something we need to. It’s part of our jobs as parents. It’s naive to think our kids aren’t curious about sex and that our teens aren’t engaging in sexual activity. We need to make sure they are safe and smart about it.