Talking About Sex to Teens

Dear Sharon,
Talking sex with teenagers is never easy. Is there a way you would recommend to approach the subject? We are very interested in instilling in our sons responsibility for their actions regarding birth control and respect for girls. We are convinced that boys need a lot of education on the subject of responsible sex behavior but we are having a difficult time talking to them about it and getting them to listen to us without embarrassment. They tune us out in the usual way whenever we try to broach the subject.

Dear Parent,

You are right – talking to teenagers about sex is never easy but always important.

1.If it is time to talk to your teen about a difficult topic like sex it is always best to do so in a tension free setting, preferably one that involves several hours or even a day or weekend of high quality one on one time.

2. It can be good to have a man talk to a boy about sex and girlfriends. A dad, uncle or older cousin might be able to go on an outing with your teen and in the course of a relaxing day of hiking, fishing, sports, or general fun they might talk about lots of things including the complications of relationships. It can even be useful for the adult to share a few of his own teen stories. Of course all of this will go much better if the man involved has a good ongoing relationship with your son.

3. Women can also make an invaluable difference to their sons, nephews and young male friends. When a teenage boy has a close and open relationship with his mom and other key women in his life it can go a long way toward helping him understand relationships with girls. It is very important for mothers to take time to “hang out” with their teenage sons. Having raised three boys I have spent a great deal of time watching movies I would never choose to see, playing video games that made no sense to me and looking awkward and incompetent in a variety of sports activities. All of this “play” time has helped open communication channels about all kinds of topics including sex and girls. I also learned that car and train rides and late evening hours can be times when a boy slows down enough to talk. I have usually had to listen to my sons a lot before talking myself. (Often I listened to things I knew nothing about) When and if your boy does “open up” don’t be afraid to ask questions about girlfriends.

4. Pediatricians that specialize in adolescent medicine can be helpful. Parents can let the doctor know that they would like some discussion of safe sex, birth control, etc. Often teens and doctors can openly talk about sexual practices and discuss important information.