This post is made possible by support from the We Can Stop HIV One Conversation at a Time campaign. Read on below for more information on how to start a conversation with your kids.
The Sexual Health of Your Loved Ones Matters
In life, there are easy conversations…and then there are the ones that make us want to run and hide. For most people, talking about sex is one of those topics that makes us squeamish. Whether we’re talking to our kids, family, friends, or even our partner, it’s important to address concerns and share the knowledge that is needed to protect the ones that you love. But it’s not always easy.
As a mom, I’ve had numerous conversations with my (now 7 year-old) daughter about her body and the changes that will come. We’ve talked about where babies come from and all the strange bodily functions that are part of becoming a woman. As my son grows and begins asking questions, we’ll be having those talks together too.
I’m not afraid to admit that I was nervous about some of the conversations we’ve had, but I know I’m making the right choice in having these tough conversations. I know that my parents didn’t have these talks with us as kids, teens, or even as adults. And as a result, I didn’t always feel confident enough to assert my voice or speak up to ask questions about my own sexual health.
It doesn’t have to be this way for our kids though. Instead, we can build a relationship with them that allows us to advocate for their sexual health and set values with them that create positive sexual experiences, where they are knowledgable and in control.
It starts with one conversation. Just one.
You can start small. Don’t think you have to tackle everything at once. The concept of a single “sex talk” has been uncovered as a failure. That’s never worked. Sexuality and sexual health are a long-term conversation.
Think about it this way…when we talk about college with our kids, we give them encouragement, check-in on their grades and do online research to look into their top choices for schools, we take them to the campus to ask about financial aid and set them up with a guidance counselor. My point is…it’s a process.
In the same way, talking with your children and teens about their sexual health is a long-term process. This is how you build trust with them. It’s how you help them to get the right information and make better choices for themselves. It’s how you make a lasting impression that let’s them know this issue is important and that they have the power in their hands to take control of their sexual health.
So, how do you get started?
If you have concerns, don’t be afraid to make them known. There are ways to do it without being pushy, intrusive or awkward. Just letting your child know that you’re there to talk if they need you can be enough. And when they’re ready to talk or ask questions, you can keep the conversations light and judgement free. Just listen. Lend your ear. It’s important to remember that you don’t always need to “fix” everything. Sometimes it’s just a matter of being there, listening, and being ready once they do ask for help.
This let’s them know that they’re loved and that they can come to you when they need you.