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Talking to Your Child About Sex and Relationships [web resource]

healthconnectedlogo429Many parents feel anxious about talking to their child about sex and relationships, particularly given the wide ranging images and messages we receive on a daily basis about gender roles, relationships, and sexuality. Here are a few tips for parents from Health Connected, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help young people feel confident and supported to make informed decisions about their own sexual health.

Start (or Continue) the Conversation

Sexuality education is not one “big talk.” It’s an ongoing discussion with your child(ren) that starts with simple concepts and gains complexity and detail as the child ages. Start as early as you can, but remember, it’s never too late to bring up a discussion.

  • Educate yourself! There are many resources, such as books for children, books for parents, trainings, and websites. Visit your local library or bookstore with your child and pick out books together.
  • Use “teachable moments.” When you’re watching TV or a movie that includes a sexual topic or listening to a song with lyrics about sex or gender roles, use it as an excuse to start a conversation. “Do you know what ____ means?” “What did you think about…?”
  • Learn from your own sexuality education. What was your experience growing up?  How would you like your own child’s sexuality education to be similar or different?
  • It’s OK to be nervous. Explain to your child “I know it’s difficult sometimes talking about these things, but they’re important. I love you and I care about you. I want to make sure you are getting your questions answered and you know that you can always come to me with any questions or problems you might be having.” If you expect that the first few conversations might feel a bit awkward, try talking in the car or while making dinner, so that you don’t have to make eye contact. Later on, when you’re more comfortable, you’ll be able to speak more directly.
  • Clarify your child’s questions. Make sure you understand your child’s question before answering. The classic example is a young child who asks “where did I come from?”  The parent gives a long explanation of pregnancy and birth, and the child looks puzzled. The child says, “Well, Timmy said he came from Michigan.  Where am I from?” Once you’ve confirmed the question, determine if your child is asking for facts, asking about values (what’s right or wrong, and why), or asking “am I normal?”
  • Talk to other parents for their advice. If friends have talked to their children about sex, what worked for them? What did they find difficult? Look to one another as a support system.

Want even more guidance?

Lets-talk.how – a project of Health Connected – is a comprehensive hub of information specifically designed to support parents and guardians as they support their kids through adolescence. Through Lets-talk.how, we offer parents detailed tips on talking to their kids about sex and relationships, links to the latest research in adolescent sexual health, an inside look at Health Connected’s curricula, and more! Check it out today!

Source: Health Connected | Talking to Your Child, https://www.health-connected.org/talking-to-your-child© 2014 by Health Connected

About Health Connected

Health Connected (formerly Teen Talk) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Redwood City.

Health Connected provides education about sexual health through three programs: Youth Services (puberty and sexual health education in schools), Parent Services (workshops on parent/child communication about sexual health), and Training & Technical Assistance for education professionals.


Do you need someone to talk to? CHC can help. We invite you to call or email our Care Managers at 650.688.3625 or caremanager@chconline.org to set up a free 30-minute consultation.

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