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Season 1: Episode 4 “Oh S*%#! My Teen wants to have SEX!
We know it is scary, uncomfortable, and weird, but you have to talk to your teen about sex waaaaay before they are interested. We tackle the signs your kids might show when they are interested in sex, how to manage your reactions and ways to do the deed (talk to them).
Your kids may tell you; however, it is way more likely that they are going to show you! Get prepared, you are going to see their clothes change; underwear gets fancier and smaller, Hanes and Fruit of the Loom are no longer acceptable. Kids that were not at all interested in their appearance are suddenly spending more time in the bathroom and on their appearance than you previously thought possible. They might change how they talk about those that they are interested in. All of a sudden you hear the same name over and over, or you no longer hear about kids you used to hear about…Pay attention your kid is getting ready.
Your Response is Everything
Pretend your child just asked you a question or you “caught” your child “messing around.” What emotions do you imagine you would feel? Your response in these “big” moments is so important. Your child is making determinations about whether you are safe or not by your micro expressions! I know it’s scary, but you’ve got this! If you are nervous or a bit embarrassed about sex yourself, it is so important to practice ahead of time. Our responses and reactions to our teens are a part of the foundation of healthy or unhealthy sex as an adult.
Talking about Sex
I always wanted to believe that schools are giving our kids what they need, but we all know that kids are not certain how to ask questions at school. Not only that, but Sex Ed in public schools is very heteronormative. This is what we have learned. Be specific, your kids are not going to make the connection between “body fluids” and sex. Their brains are not ready for that type of work. It might even help to ask them the terms that they use!
We have heard from other parents that they have been nervous about asking questions about sexual topics because they will say things wrong. Many parents have had experiences using terminology incorrectly and feeling ashamed of other’s reactions. Reach out and ask professionals that are trained to educate you. They will help you learn and may have tips for how to learn more. We have provided some great resources for parents below. By parents, we mean parts of straight kids, gay kids, nonbinary kids, all the kids.
Expectations are Key for YOU and THEM
Choice-based education is best! Don’t offer threats that you cannot serve logical consequences for; such as “You are going to get an STD from having sex”. They may view that as an opportunity to check and see. Teach them about sex and consequences before they are even interested. Set your expectations long before kids are ready. If they know what you expect from the get-go and it was shared with them at a neutral time, they are way more likely to make healthy choices. The whole goal is to help your kids learn, so they can make their own choices. If you see that it is incredibly difficult to trust your teen. That may be more about you than them. If so, reach out to friends, support systems, and/or a counselor.
Talking to your kids about sex
Gender and Sexuality
Parenting LGBTQ+ Youth
Resources for our academic audience
Roffman, D.M. (2011). A review of talking to your kids about sex: Turning “the talk” into a conversation for life. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 6, pp. 326-328.
Telingator, C, & Webster, C.R. (2019). The birds and the bees: Speaking to children, adolescents, and families about gender and sexuality. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 58, pp. S10.
Bersamin, M; Todd, M.; Fisher, D.A.; Hill, D.L. Grube, J.W; & Walker, S. (2008). Parenting practices and adolescent sexual behavior: A longitudinal study. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70, 97-112