I don’t know about you, but “back in my day” (never thought I’d find myself using that expression) the early 60s–my parents weren’t too keen to discuss sex with us kids when a pamphlet would do. So, when we became sexually active we were pretty much left to explore and discover on our own. Condoms were a second thought if that.
I know a lot has changed since then, but as always, teenagers are master’s of deception and what is really going on in their lives eludes many of today’s parents. The way I see it, grandparents are a great backup in case the first line fumbles the ball, so it behooves us grands to stay in the game with our eyes and ears open. Many times teens will open up to grandparents when they can’t talk to mom and dad.
To help get the “crucial sex conversations” with teens started, the folks at LifeStyles offer the following tips for parents and grandparents.
- Encourage conversation. Many teens will never ask about sex, so it’s important you approach them before a crisis arises. Think through your own values about sexuality: What messages do you want to give your children about love, gender roles, pregnancy, etc?
- Be aware of outside influences. What are they teaching your child at school, church, or youth groups about sexual education? It may provide a springboard for your conversations, and make things go a lot easier.
- Share your feelings. In addition to giving facts, share your feelings, values, and beliefs about sex.
- Be sure to tell your child why you feel that way. Telling children the “why” behind values teaches them to think. And when they share their feelings … listen closely.
- Balance the positives with the negatives. While it’s important your child knows the negative information about sex (i.e., sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and unwanted pregnancy), you should balance your approach with positive information. Tell them sexuality is natural and healthy, and in loving relationships, intimacy can be a wonderful part of adult life.
For further stats and recommended reading, please visit LifeStyles’ “Tips for Talking.”
Emily Morse is a sexologist, host of the Sex With Emily podcast, and co-founder of Emily & Tony. She has a doctorate in human sexuality and is the author of Hot Sex: Over 200 Things You Can Try Tonight and a weekly cohost of the nationally syndicated radio show Loveline With Dr. Drew Pinsky. Dr. Morse has been voted the #1 dating and sex expert for DatingAdvice.com and the #1 dating and sex expert to follow on Twitter.