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A Parent's Guide
Talking to Kids about Sex

This page is a guide for parents as well as health care providers talking with parents on how to discuss the topic of sex and STDs with children.

Talking about sex with your child is an important part of growing up. As children go through puberty and their bodies begin to change, they become naturally curious about these processes. In addition to receiving information from parents and teachers, children and teens depend more on their friends, classmates, TV, and social media for information, which may or may not be scientifically accurate. It's important for parents to know the facts about sex and STDs and to start the conversation when the time is right.

We understand that talking with your children about sex can be difficult and often uncomfortable. There are resources available to help provide parents and guardians with tips and tricks to have "the talk" with their kids.

It may not be easy and it may feel strange at first, but being ready ahead of time to discuss sex, STDs, and pregnancy will help make the talk easier. However, talking to your children about sex may not always go as planned. It's important to not only start a discussion with them, but also to actively listen to their questions and comments. Think about what questions or concerns you had at their age and be ready to discuss this.

Here are some general tips to guide parents along in the discussion about sex:

  • Teach yourself. Learn the latest on sex, STDs, and pregnancy - visit a local health department, library, or visit reliable sources on the internet (such as the ones below) to aid in your research.

  • Use movies/TV/music. If you are with your child and sexual content appears on TV or other media, use this as an opportunity to begin talking about sex with your child (For example, a show has a teenager who is not using a condom during sex…ask your child if he/she has learned about this in school or what he/she thinks about the teen not using condoms and what this might imply).

  • Be honest. If you are uncomfortable, say so! If you are open and honest with your child, they will likely respect this and it will be easier to discuss the topic.

  • Do things together. Bringing up the challenging topic of sex might be more comfortable if you and your child spend time with one another. See a movie, shop, play sports, or go out to lunch. Even riding in a car together could ease the tension, because direct eye contact with one another is difficult to achieve here and might making talking about sex easier.

  • Talk with, not at them. Don't feel the need to lecture your child about sex. Make sure that the talk goes both ways. Share your past experiences with them and let them ask questions.

Below are some additional resources to help make discussions easier. You will find information on adolescents and STDs, along with tips for how to talk with your child.

Resources:

CDC

Going Beyond "The Talk"

Adolescents, Technology and Reducing Risk for HIV, STDs and Pregnancy

Adolescent HIV/STD Prevention

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Know The Facts First

A Guide to Discussing Health Relationships

Michigan Department of Health & Human Services

Tips for Raising a Sexually Healthy Son or Daughter

Office of Adolescent Health

Tips for Parents

Information on STDs

Talking with Teens

Conversation Tips

Futures Without Violence

Teen Dating Violence

Planned Parenthood

Peer Educator and Teen Responses - What Teens Want You to Know






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