Sex is a taboo topic no more, this is a topic that all parents need to address with their children. What’s happening these days? How aware is your child? What are your child’s friends discussing? Is your child negatively affected by peer pressure? What happens if your child is forced to give in? You need to be the sounding board for your teen and have these difficult conversations before it is too late. This topic covers how you can have these chats in the right way, at the right time. Here is a four-stage process of how you can do this. 

  • When – talking about sex can never be too early and there is a danger you maybe be too late. Best to err on the earlier side. You don’t have to start from the day they were born but you do need to make them aware of their private organs and “good and bad touch”. Your children need to know what is correct and inappropriate behavior and don’t underestimate their level of understanding of the basics. As they grow older, around ages 6 – 8, you must check with the school if they have already covered this topic and then expand on it. If the conversation happens around the same time, the child will not feel overwhelmed. There may be several questions the child as if the topic was raised in a classroom environment but they may feel afraid to ask for fear of being laughed at or ridiculed. However, when you know that this topic has been opened by their school (as all schools should cover) you may invite them to another conversation, say a follow-up or a more intimate “QnA” session. This way, the child has a comfortable and safe environment to ask questions. No question is too silly or too bold and you should not hesitate to answer it as honestly as possible. Keep sentiment and emotion out of the way and answer as factually as can be. Remember your child may discuss what you share with his or her friends so best to report the facts and withhold judgment until they are mature enough to have that conversation, at a later stage. 
  • Where – any location and every location is OK as long as you are not interrupted. This could be in the privacy of your home or at your local café over breakfast. You may choose to begin by expanding on the topic and checking to see if they are already aware or not. Don’t be surprised if your child feigns complete ignorance or claims they know it all. At times, children may feel shy and not want to broach the topic altogether. However, you need to ensure they understand the basics and who they can speak to if and when they have any doubts about sex. You may also choose to connect with another parent and take your kids out on a play date and discuss this. It helps your child to bond with their friends so they may not feel alienated. It also helps as now your child has two sets of parents they can speak to in case they are too shy or embarrassed to come to you with a problem. 
  • How – talking about sex needs to be as casual as possible so as not to overwhelm your teen. However, they need to realize this is an important topic and the reason you are doing this is that they need to be aware of all the facts. You may quickly want to cover the basics, same as what may have already been covered at school so your child is clear on the basics. It is important to make the child understand the basics of sex – the physical act and the body and genital functions. It is also important to cover the moral values that are associated with sex. This is a tricky area and best explored when you feel your child mature enough to understand the softer nuances. So you may temporarily leave the higher-level communication on the morals and values around sex for a later stage.  
  • Why – Once you have briefed your child all about sex, you can open up another conversation where you can share your own experiences, depending on your comfort level. This can be amusing anecdotes on how you found out about puberty or your helpless ways of exploring sex. You can tell your child how things have changed and more importantly, how attitudes have improved towards sex and how things don’t have to be kept in the dark. This will encourage them to come up and talk to you whenever in doubt if they ever need your help. Your stories and experiences can be shared at any time and its best you do this as often as possible until your child feels it is healthy enough to talk about sex. 

There are instances when, despite you talking to your teen, they may still get pregnant or contract a sexually transmitted disease or worse. You need to manage the damage. This means no blame, no guilt. Your teen is already affected by what has happened. They now need to understand the extent of their choice, the responsibilities that come with their actions and make them take charge of the situation. You need to seek medical help immediately and make them aware of all their choices. You may only guide them but the decision should be theirs and the responsibility of the action too. This is the only way they can learn. At the end of the day, it is important to understand that no matter how cautious and careful we may be, things do happen which are out of control. Your teen will be able to manage everything provided you are there to support them in all their decisions and guide them as you have always done. This can be especially traumatic for your child as they may have a completely different vision of their future so don’t make them feel worse than they already do. There is always a bright side to every situation, you only need to find it.