The stats don’t quite add up:
- 78% of teens say they have all the info they need to avoid an unplanned pregnancy but 34% said “it doesn’t matter whether you use birth control or not, when it is your time to get pregnant, it will happen” and 49% said they know “little or nothing” about condoms and how to use them.
- 46% of teens say parents influence their decision about sex while only 20% said their friends do.
- 80% of teens said it’s easier for them to delay sexual activities if they could have more honest conversations with their parents.
- 63% of teens said that they don’t use contraception because they are scared their parents will know.
- 18% of teens want more info about birth control and 9% want more info about abstinence.
- Most parents want their teens to learn how to use condoms (85%), how to use and where to get other birth control (84%), abortion (79%), sexual orientation and homosexuality (76%), HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (98%), the basics of pregnancy and birth (90%), how to deal with the pressure to have sex and emotional issues and consequences of being sexually active (94%), and how to talk with a partner about birth control and STDs (88%)
What all of this tells us is that there are a lot of teens (maybe you’re one of them) who want to know more about sex and who want to be able to talk to their parents about it. And most parents want their kids to have information too, but the conversation doesn’t seem to be happening. We get it. It’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable. What if you start The Talk with your folks, and they freak out, or worse, get judgmental? Say, “don’t have sex” and end the conversation right there?
Parents are human, which means they’re flawed too. But if you talk to them like they’re rational people, usually they’ll talk to you that way too. Here are some suggestions for ways to talk to your parents about sex:
- What do you want out of the conversation? Do you want them to:
- listen and understand what you’re going through without offering their own opinion?
- give you permission or support for something?
- offer you advice or help?
- guide you back on track if you’re in trouble?
- The reason to think about the questions in #1 is so that when you talk to them you can explain exactly what it is that you need from them. When it comes to sex, most likely you want their advice or help. But maybe you want to talk to them about birth control and whether they’ll give you permission to get on the pill, purchase condoms, or talk about options with a medical professional. If you come to them with a well thought-out, rational idea of what you need and want, they’ll have an easier time being calm and rational with you. But be prepared for their answer. It may still be no, but at least this way, they may tell you why.
- If your feelings are making it hard for you to talk to your parent(s), try to put those feelings into words. “Mom, I want to talk to you about something, but I’m nervous and afraid that you won’t really listen to me.” Being honest about your nerves may break the ice and allow for more open conversation.
- Make sure you pick a good time to talk, like on a drive or a walk.
- Write down your thoughts to better organize what’s important to you.
- Communicate clearly and directly, don’t argue or whine, think about things from their point of view, and honesty really is the best policy.
- Pick your battles. Accepting a no once in awhile with little complaint will ensure more yeses in the future.
- Try having many little talks, rather than one big one. Having honest communication on a day-to-day basis is really the way to go. When you have a question, ask it.
- If there’s no talking, reasoning, relating with your parents, chances are that there are other adults who can give you advice. Try an aunt or an uncle, a teacher, maybe even an older cousin. The important thing is to find an adult you trust to give you the facts.