parents & carers
Helpline: 07736 955 219 (Mon - Fri 1.00pm-2.00pm)
The transmission through the teenage years is not easy for all concerned. Engagement and conversation on any issue can be difficult and embarrassing for parents and carers, particularly sex and relationships. Equally it can be embarrassing for teenagers to have their parents/carers talk about the subject. You may feel that your child receives enough information from various sources like school, TV, books, magazines and films. However, talking to your teenager about sex and relationships can be a positive experience and help them to develop into confident independent young people, who can make informed choices regarding their sexual health.
Talking and being open with your teenagers can mean they have sex later and are more likely to have safer sex. Not talking to your teenagers about sex and relationships could affect them for the rest of their life as they may pick up the message that somehow sex is wrong or should be kept a secret.
Television, magazines, newspapers, films etc all seem to suggest that everybody is having sex and sex is freely available to teenagers. However, the majority of people under 16 are not having sex and a high proportion of those who do have sex before they are 16 regret it.
The Sexual Health D&G works in partnership towards supporting young people in delaying early sexual activity. However, it also recognises that some young people will start having sex before they are 16 and it is important to meet their safer sex needs.
Sexual Health D&G has a network of specific youth drop-in's across the region called C2U which offer advice and information on a range of issues that affect young people. There is also 'C' Card scheme C4U (condoms for you) which apart from young people being able to access free condoms is a vehicle to educate young people in sexual health issues and sign post appropriately and where relevant explore related issues such as negotiating skills, peer pressure, self esteem and alcohol. It is becoming increasingly apparent that alcohol is playing a relevant part in the poor sexual health of young people.
- Most teenagers want basic information and not a biology lesson but want to talk about their feelings, how they cope with them and if they are normal.
- It is probably easier if you have started young talking to your child about their body in a simple and honest manner.
- A good idea is to raise the issue when you are watching TV together. The TV soaps always have topical teenager issues featured in them. However, try not to be judgmental and reassure your child that you would always listen to them.
- Just because they may be embarrassed or may be arguing with you it doesn’t mean they are not listening. They may take the message away and think about it later.
- Try not to preach but to explain your own values and principles around sex and relationships.
- Listen first and then talk as this will enable trust to be built up. Also you will learn how much they know and how much information they are looking for.
- If you don’t know be honest but say you will find out for them
- Don’t just say 'if you want to know anything just ask' – this is avoiding the issue and not a successful way of engaging with your child.
- Most Teenagers balance taking risks with being responsible and it helps them to be independent safe and healthy if you talk to them.
- Research suggests that young people want to be able to talk to their parents and care what you think (even if they don’t admit that to you).
When you talk make it as natural as you can and this will reflect that sex and relationships are a natural part of all our health.