How to Talk to Your Child about Sex

  • Be an Askable Parent

    As a parent or caregiver, it is very important for you to be askable.  What does that mean? How do adults become askable?

    To be askable means that young people see you as approachable and open to questions. Being askable about sexuality is something that most parents and caregivers want, but that many find very difficult.  Adults may have received little or no informationa about sex when they were children.  Sex may not have been discussed in their childood home, whether from fear or out of embarrassment. Or, adults may worry about:

    • Not knowing the right words or the right answers;
    • Being ouf of it in the eyes of their young people;
    • Giving too much or too little information; or
    • Giving information at the wrong time.

    Being askable is imporant. Research shows that, when teens are able to talk with a parent or other significant adult about sex and about protection, they are less likely to engage in early and/or unprotected sexualt intercourse than are teens who haven't talked with a trusted adult. Research also shows that youth with the least accurate information about sexuality and sexual risk behaviors may experiment more and at earlier ages compared to youth who have more information.

    Because being askable is so important and because so many adults have difficulty inititianting discussions about sex with their children, adults may need to learn new skills and become more confident about their ability to discuss sexuality. 

     

  • 4 Steps to Answering Tough Quesions

    1. Normalize the question. For example, say: “That’s a really good question.” Use a warm tone of voice.
    2. Ask “What makes you ask this question today?” or “What do you think?” Asking for more information gives you a sense of what your child already knows
    3. Answer the question. Share accurate information and your values.
    4. Check if they understand your answer. For example, say: “What do you think about my answer?” or “Does that answer your question?”