Teen Behavior Sex Talking

Many parents are hesitant when it comes to talking about sex with teens. They may fear that an embarrassing conversation will create awkwardness. To the contrary, encouraging open and honest communication about sex is an excellent way for parents to build trust with their children and clarify their values about sex and relationships.

Consider the following points when approaching the subject of sex with your teenager:

  • Discuss pregnancy prevention frankly. Educate your teen about birth control and contraceptives in no uncertain terms. Studies suggest that teen pregnancy rates go down when teens receive this kind of education. Even if you view abstinence as the only suitable choice, understanding how pregnancy can and cannot be prevented is important information for all teens to have.
  • Discuss relationships and love. Limiting a conversation to the topic of sexual activity–without talking about relationships, love and values–may turn into a lecture to which your child won’t respond well. Teenagers often have questions about love and dating, too. Make it clear that your teen can come to you with their questions about sex in the context of relationships, love, religion and values.
  • Don’t assume your teen is aware of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Discuss the health risks associated with sex and the importance of condom use.
  • Emphasize that relationships are about respect. Your teen needs to know that they should not allow themselves to be pressured into having sex by a dating partner, and they should never pressure a dating partner to have sex.
  • Encourage discussion. Focus on making the “sex talk” a conversation rather than a lecture. Expressing your views on teen sex, pregnancy and relationships is important, but also listen to what your teen has to say.
  • Let your teen know that having sex too soon can lead to feelings of regret. Also make it clear that just because they have sex with a partner once does not mean they are obligated to do it again. Teach your teen that being pressured by a partner is not OK.
  • Listen to your child. Though it may be difficult, be careful not to patronize your teen’s feelings on romance. You may think your teen is too young to be in love, but your teen probably feels otherwise. Allow your teen to talk about their feelings without judgment.
  • Make discussions on teenage pregnancy part of a larger conversation about life goals. Teens who delay starting a family until they have completed their education have a better chance at accomplishing their life goals. Reiterate the importance of education as often as you can with your teen, not just during discussions about sex.
  • Make sure your teen is aware of the risks of date rape. This is particularly important if they are dating an older or more experienced partner. Explain that they need to be mindful of this dangerous possibility.

Though the media constantly bombards today’s teenagers with sexual images and pressures, polling data indicate that parents play the biggest role in shaping a teen’s views about relationships and sex. Speaking frankly with your teenage son or daughter about this important subject will help keep them healthy and happy.


Palo Alto Medical Foundation. (n.d.). Talking to teens about sex. Retrieved August 26, 2010, from http://www.pamf.org/teen/parents/sex/talksex.html

Palo Alto Medical Foundation. (n.d.). Talking with children about sex. Retrieved August 26, 2010, from http://www.pamf.org/health/healthinfo/index.cfm?section=healthinfo