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Initiating conversations about the facts of life may be difficult for some parents because they did not grow up in an environment where the subject was discussed. Some parents may be afraid they do not know the right answers or feel confused about the proper amount of information to offer. To help, here are 10 tips from the experts at Advocates for Youth:
- First, encourage communication by reassuring your children that they can talk to you about anything.
- Take advantage of teachable moments. A friend’s pregnancy, news article, or a TV show can help start a conversation.
- Listen more than you talk. Think about what you’re being asked. Confirm with your child that what you heard is in fact what he or she meant to ask.
- Don’t jump to conclusions. The fact that a teen asks about sex does not mean they are having or thinking about having sex.
- Answer questions simply and directly. Give factual, honest, short, and simple answers.
- Respect your child’s views. Share your thoughts and values and help your child express theirs.
- Reassure young people that they are normal—as are their questions and thoughts.
- Teach your children ways to make good decisions about sex and coach them on how to get out of risky situations.
- Admit when you don’t know the answer to a question. Suggest the two of you find the answer together on the Internet or in the library.
- Discuss that at times your teen may feel more comfortable talking with someone other than you. Together, think of other trusted adults with whom they can talk.