Discussing the Birds and the Bees

sex talk

The Sex Talk: How to Talk to Your Teen

“So when should we talk to our child about the birds and the bees?” As a parent, you have likely asked your partner or yourself this question. The answer varies with each situation, however, the earlier you start age-appropriate discussions on sex, the more likely your teen will feel comfortable coming to you with their sex-related questions.

Even if you have been talking to your teen about sex since they were young enough to start asking questions about sex, here are some tips to helping your teen understand the consequences of sex and how to have healthy teen relationships.

First, determine your own values and views on sex. Understand that your teen may not believe the same way, but if you are prepared to explain why you feel the way you do, it can come across as a discussion instead of a lecture. If you need to, read some books beforehand or discuss your own feelings on sex with your partner or a trusted friend.

Second, understand that the setting may be important. One idea is to take your teen out to a secluded nature area or park. It helps to not have distractions. Also realize that the sex talk will likely not be just one talk, but many. Make sure your teen understands that the door is open for further questions or discussion.

Third, as part of the discussion, invite your teen to explain their ideas and ask them what they know. A few questions could be

  • Are your friends having sex?
  • Do you understand the consequences of having sex?
  • What do you think makes a person ready to have sex?
  • Is anyone you know pregnant?
  • Do you think it would be hard to be a pregnant teen?
  • Do you think that having sex just to impress friends is important?
  • Have you ever been pressured to have sex?

Fourth, explain how talking about sex can be uncomfortable. But also show them that you want to be able to talk with them about it. Have books of websites ready for your teen to go to if they want more information on sex. Be prepared to follow it up.

Fifth, do not only discuss the biological description of sex, but explain the emotional consequences of sex and how it affects relationships. Show how pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases are a real risk. Be prepared with actual studies and statistics. Explain that they can say no, that they should never be pressured into having sex, and that they can control their own body.

Having the sex talk with your teen can be daunting. But with some preparation, a nice setting, and an open discussion, you can hopefully help your teen understand sex and its consequences.

Discussing the Birds and the Bees Sources:

  • Sexuality and U, “Talking Contraception and Sexuality with Your Child, Discussing Sex With Your Teenager,” [online]
  • Talking With Kids, “Talking With Kids About Sex and Relationships,” [online]
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Teen Chat: A Guide to Discussing Human Relationships,” [pdf online]