As a parent, you know it’s important to talk to your children about preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). This is especially true when they become teenagers.
What about sex education your teens receive in junior high or high school? While some schools offer it, many do not. Either way, you should plan to discuss your values and beliefs about sexual behavior with your children—along with the facts.
What topics should you cover?
You might be embarrassed to start the conversation about sex. You also might worry about covering too much information at once. The good news is you can talk about sex in several small conversations over several weeks or months.
Take advantage of one-on-one time in the car or during meals. Make it easy for your child to ask questions, and let them know they can confide in you without fear of judgment. Make it a discussion—not a lecture.
Some topics to include:
- Defining healthy relationships. What does it mean to be in a happy, respectful straight or LGBTQ relationship? What should romantic partners do and not do?
- Defining consent. Consent means asking for, getting—and giving—permission. Teens should understand what it means to have boundaries around kissing, hugging, and other kinds of touching.
- Your values and expectations. What are your hopes for your teen when it comes to sex? Do you want them to be out of high school, in a committed relationship, or married before they have sex? What can you share about your own relationships, and what you would change—or not change—if you could go back in time to your teen years?
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). According to the CDC, youth ages 15-24 account for one half of all STD cases. Some of the most common are:
- hepatitis B virus (HBV)
- herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2)
- human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Preventing pregnancy. Teens who talk to their parents about sex and birth control tend to have sex later and use protection when they do. Birth control can include everything from abstinence to condoms, diaphragms, and birth control pills. There are many resources in Texas for no-cost birth control, pregnancy tests, and other family planning services for teens. Learn more.
Help your teenager by setting boundaries for them
As your teen learns how to navigate the highs and lows of their first relationships, you can help them to avoid risky situations.
A few ideas for setting limits include:
- giving your teen a curfew
- knowing where your teens are at all times
- discussing ways you can help them get out of difficult situations (for example, by calling or texting you with a code word or phrase)
- getting to know your teen’s friends and their parents
- limiting the amount of time your teen can spend alone with boyfriends or girlfriends
- discouraging them from having friends who are much older than them
Need a healthcare provider?
Check out the Parkland Community Health Plan Provider Directory.
You’ll find information on all of the doctors in our network, including those who:
- are accepting new patients
- have later office hours
- speak languages other than English
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