10 Tips for Parents :: TIP 2
The SRA (sexual risk avoidance) community has reviewed research about parental influences on children's sexual behavior and talked to many experts in the field, as well as to teens and parents themselves. From research, it is clear that there is much parents and adults can do to help their children choose sexual integrity.
Many of these ideas presented in this blog series will seem familiar because they articulate what parents already know from experience, like the importance of maintaining strong, close relationships with children and teens, setting clear expectations for them, and communicating honestly and often with them about important matters. Research supports these common sense ideas. DCO hopes that these tips can increase the ability of parents to help their children choose sexual integrity.
So for the month of October, we will be releasing blog post titled 10 Tips for Parents throughout the month! If you have somehow stumbled across this blog, today is TIP TWO.
Talk with your children early and often about sex, and be specific
Teens have lots of questions about sex, love, and relationships. And they often say that the source they'd most like to go to for answers is, in fact, their parents. Start the conversations, and make sure that it is honest, open, and respectful. If you can't think of how to start the discussion consider using situations shown on TV or in the movies as conversation starters. Tell teens candidly and confidently what you think and why you believe waiting until marriage is the healthiest option. If your not sure about some issues, tell them that as well. Be sure to have a two-way conversation, not a one-way lecture. Ask them what they think and what they know so you can correct any misconceptions. Ask what, if anything, worries them.
Age-appropriate conversations about relationships and intimacy should begin early in a child's life and continue through adolescence. Resist the idea that there should be just one conversation about all of this - you know, "the talk". Think an 18 year conversation. The truth is parents and kids should be talking about sex and love all along. This applies to both sons and daughters and mothers and fathers. All teens need large amounts of communication, guidance, and information about these issues, even if sometimes they don't appear to be interested in what you have to say. Because the truth is they will either hear it from you, or from someone else. By having regular conversations, you won't worry so much about making a mistake, because you'll always be able to talk again.
If you are worried about what this looks like, there are many inexpensive books and videos to help with any detailed information you might need, but don't let your lack of technical information make you shy away from having these conversations. Kids and teens need as much help in understanding the meaning of sex as they do in understanding how all the body parts work. Tell them about love and sex, and what the difference is.
Be an "askable parent" Here are the kinds of questions kids say they want to discuss:
How do I know if I am in love? Will sex bring me closer to my boyfriend/ girlfriend?
How will I know when I am ready to have sex? Should I be waiting until marriage?
Will having sex make me popular? Will it make me more grown-up and open up more adult activities to me?
How do I tell my boyfriend/girlfriend that I don't want to have sex without losing him/her or hurting his/her feelings?
How do I manage the pressure of having sex?
Are condoms and birth control safe?
Can you get pregnant the first time?
Be a parent with a point of view. Tell your children what you think. Don't be reluctant to say, for example:
I think having sex in high school is not safe, and there are too many risks. Waiting until marriage is the best decision.
Finding yourself in a sexually charged situation is not unusual; you will need to think about how you will handle it in advance. Have a plan. How will you say no?
You don't have to have sex to keep a boyfriend/girlfriend. If sex is the price of the relationship, find someone else.
Research shows that talking to your children about sex does not encourage them to become sexually active, but instead helps them fully understand the depth of making that decision.
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