Talking to Teens About Sex

September 10, 2012, Parenting Success Network

The teenage years are typically characterized by intense emotional ups and downs,  rapid physical growth and development, a yearning for independence, and the need for consistent parental guidance and support through it all (most teens, however, would not admit to the latter). During this time teens begin to acknowledge their changing bodies and those of their peers. And their feelings about their developing bodies and sexuality are oftentimes shaped by their peers, experiences, and the larger society in which they engage. Did you know that parents can also be an important factor in the healthy sexual development of teens? Teens want and need to be able to talk to their parents (or other trusted adult) about sex and development. Talking to parents about sex and sexuality provides teens with a safe place to discuss and ask questions about what they are feeling, experiencing, and observing.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that “Parents have a strong impact on whether a teenager makes healthy decisions for himself or herself. Research shows that teens who talk with their parents about sex, relationships, birth control and pregnancy—

  • Begin to have sex at later age.
  • Use condoms and birth control more often if they do have sex.
  • Have better communication with romantic partners.
  • Have sex less often.

Taking the time to have conversations about sex, development, and relationships really pays off. As a side benefit, parents will also strengthen the bond with their teen that will be present even when they are not. So that when faced with challenging relationship situations, your teen’s decisions will be impacted by your discussions rather than peer pressure alone. This notion is worth it’s weight in gold and will last a lifetime.

For more information on talking to your teen about sex and relationships check out the Center of Disease Control and Prevention Parent and Guardian Resources page.