Today’s children live in a highly sexualized society where they are exposed to sexual language, and behaviours even before they are developmentally prepared to handle them. Sex education for teenagers is a very challenging thing than you think because teenage is a very crucial stage. Educating them about sex life needs a lot of patience rather than just speaking. It is more important to give them a confident platform where they can express freely. Moreover, it is always important to get the right information from a trusted source than misleading stuff from friends, magazines or websites which can have lasting impacts.
What is sex education?
Sex education gives people the necessary information, motivation, and skills to make healthy decisions about the sex life. It teaches a wide variety of topics related to sex and sexuality and explores values that are needed to navigate relationships so as to manage one’s own sexual health.
The importance of sex education for teenagers
Sex education for teenagers is very important. It influences sexual behaviour and can achieve positive health impacts on teenagers. It aims to reduce the main risk of negative outcomes from sexual behaviour such as unwanted and unplanned pregnancy. Also, comprehensive sex education will help prevent sexual diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhoea, pelvic inflammatory diseases, and non- gonococcal urethritis.
How to break the ice?
As a parent, you should:
- Prepare yourself
Before you start discussing the topic of sex with your teenage child, it is very important to prepare yourself. It would be best if you talk about this with your partner and then decide what all messages and values you need to communicate. Keep yourself updated about the current sexual issues. Try to find an appropriate sexual development book to read with your teen.
- Consider your teen’s point of view
While giving sex education to your teen, listen carefully and never discourage him. You should consider his/her point and never discourage them. Try to understand his concerns, pressures, and challenges.
- Be direct and honest
Never hesitate to share your feelings about particular sex-related issues directly to your teens. Tell them the risks of sex objectively, such as sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancy, and emotional pain.
- Invite more discussion
Encourage your child to discuss about sex with you whenever he/she has questions or doubts. Always welcome the question, by saying that you are happy that your child came to you.
Do’s and Don’ts
Given below are some do’s and don’t’s that parents should be aware of while educating their teens about sex.
Make yourself available
Whenever there comes a problem or an issue, children look for their parents first. They start depending on others only when their parents don’t seem approachable. Create a comfort zone between you and your child because the best way of being a good sex educator is being someone that they are comfortable talking with.
Keep it casual
Never talk to your teen in such a way that sex is something complicated. Make it easier for them to understand.
Keep eye contact while talking with your teens
Keep eye contact with your child whenever you are talking. Avoiding proper eye contact suggests that you are embarrassed or in a state of discomfort. If your child believes that you, as a parent has discomfort in talking about this topic, he may think that talking or learning about sexual issues is a taboo.
Remember that sex education is more than just ‘sex’.
Sex education is not just talking about how to use contraception or the basic mechanics of intercourse. As a parent, you should explain their values, including compassion and responsibility as they relate to all aspects of life. Make sure to teach your kids to apply these values to their sexual decisions as well.
Don’t use pet names for private parts
When you use nicknames to mention your teen’s private parts, they might think that their private parts are places that shouldn’t be talked about. This could lead your child to believe that they must keep an inappropriate touch as a secret. Using the exact names for body parts helps you to create comfort with one’s own body as opposed to shame.
Don’t try to back out of an uncomfortable talk
Every parent wants their children to approach them first if they want to talk about something. But when your child approaches you to have a conversation about sex-related topics, never back off as changing the subject or stonewalling just sends the opposite message. Instead of doing that, admit to your child that you feel nervous talking about sex, but you will do your best to answer all questions.
Don’t criticize or get angry
A child can turn out into a sexually responsible adult only with the help of his/her parent. Be honest with them and speak from the heart. Even if your teen doesn’t show any interest in what you have to say about sex, say it anyway. Don’t criticize or get angry with your child when he or she raises a question or shares concerns
As a parent, you should talk to your child about topics such puberty, menstruation, sexually transmitted diseases, reproduction, contraception, unplanned pregnancy, abortion, premarital sex, and homosexuality Always remember that sex education is an ongoing process, short and frequent conversations are better than the long ones.