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How Can I Talk to My Parents About Sex?

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If you’re a teenager, you may be considering talking to your parents about sex. This can feel uncomfortable or embarrassing, but you may find that they can be a great source of support and knowledge. Your parents may be just as hesitant as you are to start the conversation. Once you get it started, they may be grateful that you did.

Should I talk to my parents?

Talking to your parents about sex is a personal decision. It can depend on things like your relationship with them, how comfortable you are with talking about sex, their attitudes toward sex, and more. Queer and trans teens may also have to think about how their parents may react to different parts of their identity.

There is some evidence that talking to your parents about sex can decrease the chance of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and teen pregnancy. Your parents may be able to help you get birth control or find a clinic for STI testing. They may also be able to give you advice on your current or future sexual relationships.

How do I start the conversation?

Starting the conversation may be the hardest part. But once you get started, it’ll probably get easier. Here are some tips for starting the conversation:

  • Bring up something that happened on a TV show you both watch or in a magazine article you read
  • If you and your parents communicate mostly through text or email, ask a question that way
  • Give them a heads-up for the conversation: let them know that you want to speak privately with them
  • Have some specific questions ready
  • Make sure you catch them when they have time and space to speak with you

Your parents may be just as uncomfortable as you are at the beginning. You can help make the conversation easier by being honest and respectful, and listening to their opinions.

What if I can’t talk to my parents?

Some parents have a hard time talking about sex with their children. In some cases, parents may punish or shame their children for bringing it up. It’s important to consider your own safety when it comes to talking to your parents.

If you feel that your parents may react poorly, there may be another adult in your life that you can talk to. This could be a relative, teacher, someone in your religious community, or family friend. There are also counsellors available at youth clinics like Heads and Hands, or organizations like ACCM.

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