Parents often worry about not saying enough when discussing sex with their teen, but how do you know if you have said too much? Is there such a thing? Let's look at three questions to ask yourself when preparing to talk about sex.
What is age appropriate? If you have children varying in ages 3-18, you certainly are not going to
sit everyone down at dinner and discuss sex. There will need to be conversations with each child. At
their level of understanding. The conversation with a middle school aged child will look different than a Sophomore in high school. You know your family, you know your children, and you know their different personalities. Each child will need you to communicate on their level. You don't want to tell them more than they need to know, but you also want to be sure you say enough.
What do they know? If you have children who attend public school who provide sex education, it will be helpful to find out when they are discussing it, what curriculum/videos they are showing, and what information they are disseminating. This will take action and follow through to be sure you know what is being taught. You can ask to see text books before your child is informed. You can have the conversation before their teacher has it. Also, ask them what they know before you get started. You don't want to sound off a barrage of facts, but you want it to be a conversation. This can help to correct misinformation and avoid sharing more than what they are ready to know.
Are they overexposed? Teens are exposed to more media than ever before. Kids and teens have easy access to videos, movies, YouTube, text messages, etc with one touch of button. Sometimes the worry isn't have you shared too much but-- has outside influence shared too much? It is imperative you
heavily monitor your teen. Parents may feel teens are entitled to privacy, but privacy with unregulated access to media could be dangerous. They could be watching things way above their maturity level.
Please keep a monitor on their media and technology use. It will help to filter the information so you can be sure the information is coming from YOU. Although you cannot control everything, you can do your best to help the information to come from you. Knowing more about sex than what is age appropriate could be damaging to your child. Get in the conversation. Let them hear from you first!
A Positive Approach to Teen Health (P.A.T.H) is a 501(c)3 organization that reaches seven counties throughout Northwest Indiana. Since 1993, A Positive Approach to Teen Health has been working to empower teens to make healthy choices regarding drugs, sex, alcohol, and violence.