You, Your Grandkids and the New World of STDs

Talking to your grandchildren about safe sex and STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) prevention might not be at the top of your “bonding with my grandkids” list of things to do, but it is necessary and appropriate in 2011. HIV and STDs are more prevalent than ever, and although having “the talk” with your grandchildren might be uncomfortable, it could save their life.

Grandparents have an “in” with their grandkids in a way that parents don’t. Grandparents are the ones who love more than they reprimand, and the generation gap alone gives your stories and lectures an angle that can capture their attention while allowing you to implant some wisdom in their minds that will stick with them in the future. Use your age to your advantage — you have the wonderful gift of history, out of which you can tell stories to your grandkids that are absolutely foreign to them.

For example, one of my clients recently said his grandson had complained that condoms “didn’t feel good” during sex. To which my client replied, “If you think they don’t feel good now, you should try the condoms we used to have in the ’40s: rabbit skins and rubber bands!” Can you imagine the shock on his grandson’s face? Regardless of the humorous response, it was a bold statement that will stay with his grandson forever.

So what’s appropriate, and how do you approach this kind of conversation? You approach it the same way you approach any advice-giving conversation: Level with your grandkids. Don’t overload them with information (details about your sex life aren’t necessary). Keep the conversation normalized and never tell them more than they’re interested in. Just make sure to focus on these three main points:

• Nobody is too special, too perfect or too beautiful to catch an STD. Typically it’s those who don’t think they can get it and don’t take the precautionary measures who end up with an STD.

• You’re not telling them not to have sex; you’re teaching them to be smart and proactive.

• Condoms are a must — to protect against not just STDs but pregnancy too. And the life they save may be their own.

Bottom line to the conversation: You can’t stop your grandkids from playing, but if they’re going to play, they need to play smart.

“Where can I get the best info?

CDC.gov/std/stats/: STD statistics

STDHELP.org: STD prevention, education programs, resources and community forums

TalkWithKids.org: How to talk to kids about various topics, including sex, HIV/STDs, and violence

• And as always, you can submit questions through DrDorreeLynn.com!

Dr. Dorree Lynn is a psychologist and life coach committed to helping people have better relationships and fulfilling sex lives. Dr. Lynn is AARP’s “Sexpert” and has
appeared on Good Morning America, MSNBC, CNN, PBS and other national programming. Her book, Sex for Grownups, is available on Amazon. Visit Dr. Dorree’s online library at FiftyAndFurthermore.com, and follow her online at DrDorreeLynn.com and Facebook.

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