One of the core aspects of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is encouraging you and another to have a conversation! In this case it’s you and your teen, or maybe it’s you and your partner in how to talk with your teen about sex. In its essence, dialectical means a combination of opposites. In this case, as a parent you are recognizing that your teen is changing, and you are working towards accepting that.
There are five specific skill sets that are presented in DBT: Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation, Walking the Middle Path, Distress Tolerance, and Interpersonal Effectiveness. In having conversations regarding sex with your teen the three skill sets that will be most beneficial are: Mindfulness, Walking the Middle Path, and Interpersonal Effectiveness. This is not to say that the other two are not valuable!
Being mindful of where you are emotionally or even physically when your teen comes to you with these questions will be helpful! For example, say your daughter comes to you and asks how she can start birth control. You just closed your computer after a long day at work, you may be feeling tired or stressed. Recognizing that you may not be in the right state to have this discussion with your daughter is okay! Your ability to be mindful with where you are is going to help in having the conversations when you are focused on the moment at hand, not distracted by what else may be going on.
Keeping with the example above, it’s okay to say that you are not ready to have the conversation at that exact moment. Although, it is important that you make time and space to go back to have the conversation. This is part of the Walking the Middle Path skill set. By utilizing this skill set, in the moment you could say something along the lines of “I just finished work, can we have this conversation after dinner tonight?” The key is making sure that you do have the conversation. When you do follow through and having the conversation, you are building trust with your teen and validating their needs at the same time!
Interpersonal Effectiveness skills are about maintaining yourself respect, maintaining your relationship with others, and problem-solving. This is going to be huge when having conversations about sex with your teens. As a parent being aware of your values and how you view sex is important and at the same token recognizing that your teen may hold a different view or experience. This is where the dialect comes in! It’s okay for you to have different point of views and validating that is key.