How to have the STD talk with your child

How to have the STD talk with your child

Shelby County is currently no. 1 in the nation for cases of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea in teens 15-19 years old.  Our county also leads the state in the number of teens diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) each year. One in four boys in Memphis have sex before the age of 13, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. With the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in our community, as well as the young age at which teens are becoming sexually active, it is necessary to have conversations with your child about STDs and how they can avoid them.

Below are five tips from the educators of our Be Proud! Be Responsible! Memphis! Program. They work to help empower teenagers to develop a sense of pride, self-confidence and self-respect through sexual health education, safe-sex practices and life skills-building activities. 

1. Get Informed

Become familiar with the facts about STDs. Fact sheets for many STDs are available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website in both English and Spanish. Talk with your child’s pediatrician about the process of getting tested and communicate that with your child. The more you know, the more confidence you will have for these discussions. If they ask a question that you don’t know, admit to them that you don’t know. Then you can use this as an opportunity to find out the answer together.

2. Be Direct and Simple

Give factual, honest, short and simple answers to questions. There is no need to have a long discussion. Having several short discussions will be more effective than having one long talk.

 3. Reassure Your Child

While adolescents navigate their teen years it can be difficult for them to approach you with questions. Reassure them that it is normal to have questions about safe sex and STDs. Encourage your child to come to you with their questions instead of relying on friends and Google.

4. Be Open to All Discussions

It is important to share your beliefs about sex with your child, but it is equally important to be open to all types of dicussions with your child. Be approachable, and do not overreact or shame your child if they are considering a different path. Equip your child with all the information they need so that they can eventually make informed decisions.

5. Take Advantage of Teachable Moments

If you struggle to bring up the conversation about STDs and safe sex, wait for an opportunity. When you’re watching a movie or you see a news article involving the topic, take advantage of the moment to discuss this issue with your child. If your teen brings up a friend’s relationships problems, that could also be a great teachable moment.

It is never too late to have this conversation with your teen—even if they have already had sexual experiences. Providing this information and support can empower your child and also improve your relationship as they feel heard and understood.

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