Talking to your teenager about Sexuality & Sexual Health
A Guide for Parents & Caregivers
Part 1: Growing up sexually healthy & let's start talking!
For children and young people, sexuality is shaped by the family and society. It includes: values, attitudes, behaviours, physical appearance, body image, feelings, personality & spiritual beliefs.
The term sexuality is more than just sexual intercourse or being sexually active!
Your role as a parent/caregiver
As a parent, you may be fearful about talking to your teenager about sexuality because:
Young people who discuss all aspects of sexuality with their parents tend to delay being sexually active.
You may not be comfortable. This is okay! Sex may not have been a topic your parents discussed when you were growing up.
You may have concerns that talking about sex with your teenager may encourage them to experiment. In fact, the opposite is true.
You may not be sure what your teen already knows or needs to know.
Helping your teen grow up sexually healthy
- Does my teen know what I believe?
- Have I talked with my teen about sexuality and our family's values in an honest way?
- Choose a quiet time (not when everyone is rushed!)
- Treat each other with respect
- Really listen to each other
- Be honest
- Share reasons for your beliefs
As a parent/caregiver, ask yourself:
A few tips before talking about sexuality with your teen:
Help your teen to grow up to be sexually healthy by:
Encouraging them to feel good about who they are and about their body
Helping them express their feelings
Talking about what makes any relationship a healthy one
Help them develop a personal value system, and accept that it may be different from yours! Ultimately, show that you trust and respect them as a person.
Remember: Be patient and ready to hear what they have to say.
Talking about sex with your teenager
This might happen when you and your teen are watching TV, reading a magazine, or listening to the radio.
Yes, it feels awkward and embarrassing. But accept this and do it anyway!
Be sure to let your teen know that sexuality is also about feelings and how other people are affected in relationships.
Be sure there are books, videos or pamphlets in your home that provide accurate information. Even if they do not want to talk, your teen can view these on their own time.
Be aware of moments that arise when you can share your views.
Accept the awkwardness.
Include the feelings.
Have resources on hand.
Inform yourself. You don't have to be an expert! But, you may need to get more information. Answer questions in a direct and honest way, without judgement.