Let’s face it, talking to your teenager about sex is A-W-K-W-A-R-D. To help you out, here are my answers to the three most common questions parents ask me about their teenagers and sex:
1. When is it okay for my teenager to start having sex?
When they meet someone they care about, it’s an exclusive relationship and they’re old enough to drive. But encourage them to wait until they’re over 18. The most common age for teens to lose their virginity is 17-19. Tell your teen that most of their peers are lying about sex. Boys lie about having more and girls lie about having less. In other words, they shouldn’t believe what they hear.
You can use humour to lighten the mood during these awkward conversations. Never tease them about sex or relationships as this will ensure they turn to their peers for advice instead of you.
Here’s how I used humour when my kids asked me how old they should be to start having sex. I said, ”Wait until you’re 50 as hopefully I’ll be dead by then”. My son came back with, “How about if I kill you off when I’m 15?”
2. Should I offer to supply my teenager with birth control? Isn’t this just a “go” sign for sex?
Yes, offer to buy them anything and everything right from the age of 14 or 15, depending on their social habits and friends. Having your parents a part of the decision to have sex usually acts more as a “stop” than a “go”. Sex is nowhere near as taboo or rebellious when Mommy & Daddy are discussing it with them. It also shows you trust and respect them. This will encourage them to talk to you and even include you in their decision which will ultimately be a much wiser one.
3. How do I prevent my teenager from having promiscuous and irresponsible sex?
When talking to them about sex always include emotions and feelings in the mix. This makes it harder for them to view sex as nothing but a physical act. Once emotions and feelings are associated with sex, they will automatically start making wiser decisions. Just knowing they can talk to you and trust that you won’t lecture them, they are unlikely to do anything stupid, and that goes for everything, not just sex.
Remember to listen more than you talk and never lecture. Try to stay calm and level headed when discussing sex, or anything else with your teenager. Their world is all about black and whites, i.e., extremes. They need you to be their calming influence, their grey.
Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach
BratBusters Parenting Services Inc.