I remember my first “serious” relationship as a teenager, thinking that I knew what love was and all of that good stuff. I was able to go to my mom and talk with her about what I was experiencing in my relationship, emotionally and physically. Now that I am older, I cannot imagine how scary it must have been for her youngest daughter to come to her and ask the questions that I did! With that said, I hope this blog can help parents and kids feel more equipped when having the long awaited “talk.”

Is there a right time?

From the first moment you meet your child, you are witnessing first-hand the developmental stages they are traveling through. The conversations about sex are going to develop alongside the age of your child. In early development, using terminology that accurately describes their body parts is really important!

Starting the conversation of boundaries with their bodies part is also a really good idea, because curiosity is on the loose at this time! As a parent you might feel like the early years are a bit easier in terms of having conversations about sex and their bodies, although the adolescent years are vastly approaching. By normalizing conversations about their bodies and sex in their earlier years, “the talk” might seem a bit less daunting.

If you do have an adolescent, you know that one of their least favorite things is when they feel like they are being lectured. Rather than lecturing, have a dialectical conversation with your adolescent. Allow them to ask questions, have a conversation about consent, what safe sex looks like, and provide resources to guide them on this journey.

How do you have the conversations?

You might feel like you have to have a sit-down family meeting to have “the talk.” Rather than turning the conversation about sex and relationships into a formal, strict gathering, allow you and your adolescent to take time. For example, like I stated above I was able to go to my mom and ask her about having sex for the first time. I remember it like it was yesterday! We sat on my bed and she listened to the questions I had. Like was it going to hurt? How do I have safe sex?

This is not to say that all parent child relationships are like mine was (and that’s okay), the point is to normalize the conversation rather than applying so much pressure to it. Check in with your kids, let them know that it is okay to talk sex and relationships with you.

How can you prepare yourself for the questions?

First, give yourself a pat on the back because your child is coming to you with questions! Some of the questions your child or teen asks you may include the following: When can I have sex? Can I get birth control? Will I get pregnant if I have sex? What is masturbation? It is totally understandable that these questions may seem quite daunting! With that said, if you are uncomfortable chances are your child is too and that’s okay.

Allowing them the space to ask you these questions is the first step. Try to avoid being judgmental or making assumptions about why they are asking you. Be honest with them! Chances are that if they are not asking you, they are going to get the information from elsewhere. Being honest and sincere in your answer will only help build trust in your relationship.

The truth is, it’s complicated.

Not all these conversations are going to look or feel the same for everyone. You and your child might feel awkward having these conversations, or you may feel totally comfortable. As a parent, try thinking of how you felt as a teenager embarking on sex and relationships. As complicated as the conversations may be, they are really important to have. You want your child to be fully equipped for the journey that they are on, which may seem nearly impossible as a parent.

Continue the Conversation

Being honest about consent, sexual health and what a healthy relationship looks like is a great start for helping them. There may be times that you do not know the answer to the questions that they ask, and that is okay. There are so many resources that we can provide for you and that are at your fingertips.

This conversation with your children will be one that evolves based on how old they are and what they understand. If you start having conversations early, you will continue to have more developed conversations as your child gets older. This continued conversation will allow you to share what is appropriate for their age, but also continue to leave the door open for more conversations as they get older.