What to Talk About
What Should We Talk About?
First decide on How to talk about it. Have some agreed upon rules for the talk: it's confidential, you can speak honesty without fear of consequences and you have the right to "pass" on a question. Take advantage of natural chances to talk: if you are watching TV and sex comes up, ask them what they think. It helps them to see you aren't planning to lecture, but are genuinely interested in their opinions.
Opening Questions to Ask
- What's most important to you in your life now?
- What do you like the most about being a teenager? What's the hardest part?
- What are some of the things you look for in a friend? In a romantic "friend"?
- What do you wish we could talk about more openly together?
- I can't believe how tall you've grown already! Have you noticed other changes in your body? What do you like or not like about the physical changes in your body?
- When do you think a person is in love?
- When do you think a person is ready to have sex?
- When do you think a person is ready to be a parent? What kind of person do you think should be a parent?
- Anatomy and physical changes (puberty, hormones, menstruation)
- Your family's values and beliefs around sexuality
- Abstinence and healthy choice-making
- Sexual intercourse, how pregnancy happens
- Sexual responsibility
- Refusal skills: saying no to unwanted sexual behavior
Key Concepts & Talking Tips
- Start talking early-this can help in delaying early sexual behavior
- Listen, don't judge
- Maintain confidentiality
- Be open and provide accurate information
- Don't try to make teens feel guilty - this will only backfire
- Discuss respect, self-worth and self-esteem
- Discuss consequences of actions and choices
- Promote responsibility for behavior and obligations, answering to your actions
- Encourage honesty - telling the truth and meaning what you say
- Don't ignore embarrassment! Encourage your teen to verbalize feelings.
- Keep it "conversational". Don't make it a "big sweaty palms" talk. This keeps channels open for ongoing conversation.
- If a teen brings up sexuality anytime, address it. That may be your chance.
- Start out with what they already know. Ask them!
- Stay concrete. Teens are basically concrete thinkers.
- Try not to say "You're not old enough to know that" or "What do you want to know that for?" You can always say: "Well, that's embarrassing, but let's talk anyway" or "Give me some time, that's a tough one!" That way you aren't closing off the conversation.