How to have 'the talk' with your teenPosted: November 03, 2017
Le Bonheur’s Be Proud! Be Responsible! Memphis! is a teen pregnancy prevention program that collaborates with community centers, schools and churches. The curriculum, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is designed to empower teenagers to develop a sense of pride, self-confidence and self-respect through sexual disease education, safe-sex practices and life skills-building activities.
Below are 10 tips for talking about the facts of life from experts at Advocates for Youth, along with additional information on how to elaborate and start a discussion with your teen from a Be Proud! Be Responsible educator.
- First, encourage communication by reassuring your teen that they can talk to you about anything.
“What I have found as an educator is that if you tell children that they will not be judged by what they tell you, they are much more likely to be open and honest,” educator Briana Woods said. “If they are constantly afraid that anything they say will be scrutinized or they will be somehow punished for it then they are more likely to shut down and omit information. This does not allow for an open dialogue and therefore shuts down the pathways to information.”
- Take advantage of teachable moments. A friend’s pregnancy, news article or a TV show can help start a conversation.
“Setting a good example using a negative influence can become a great way to set expectations and help them make good decisions,” says Jennifer L. Taylor.
- Listen more than you talk. Think about what you’re being asked. Confirm with your child that what you heard is in fact what he or she meant to ask.
Educator T’Andrea Sain says, “You have to seek to understand before you can seek to be understood. I have always been told that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. In order to get your child to see your point of view, it helps to be open to listening and understanding theirs. Listen to learn, not to respond.”
- Don’t jump to conclusions. The fact that a teen asks about sex does not mean they are having or thinking about having sex.
“Allow teens the opportunity to be open and free when asking questions,” said Tony Banks, Jr. “We want them to feel comfortable enough to ask us anything and know that we won’t judge them. Be prepared to listen before reacting to any question.”
- Answer questions simply and directly. Give factual, honest, short and simple answers.
"When answering simply and concisely, the element of confusion is eliminated. Do not beat around the bush, because you want to deliver an answer that is factual and honest We’d rather have our children learn about sex from us rather than from an incorrect or mistaken source." – Bandar Khattab
- Respect your child’s views. Share your thoughts and values and help your child express theirs.
“Proper communication with anyone requires respect. Adults sometimes forget their children have feelings and opinions, too,” Brieana Driskill said. “Allowing your child to express how they feel and allowing them to have their own personal views will open the door to being comfortable enough to speak to you about any topic, especially sex.”
- Reassure young people that they are normal - as are their questions and thoughts.
“It is normal for children to experiment and be curious about any and everything. It is up to the parents to be aware and be there for their teen. If a parent provides his or her teen with support and helps them feel that they are not judged, they are more likely to open up and share more.” – Christen Dickerson
- Teach your children ways to make good decisions about sex and coach them on how to get out of risky situations.
“Although it may be a sensitive topic, learning and hearing suggestions from parents could lead to children making better choices, which can lead to better outcomes,” Kedra DeBerry explained. “Ultimately, it could lead to children being much more comfortable confiding in parents instead of outsiders when it relates to these topics or risky situations.”
- Admit when you don’t know the answer to a question. Suggest the two of you find the answer together on the Internet or in the library.
“One way of finding a solution to a problem is to do a little research. It may help to go to a library or log on to your computer to find a credible source that has been published by an expert on that subject. You don’t want to give your child the wrong answer and research is something you can do together!” – Gregory Weaver
- Discuss that at times your teen may feel more comfortable talking with someone other than you. Together, think of other trusted adults with whom they can talk.
“There have been many times students have told me they can’t talk to their parents about certain subjects, sex being one of them,” Derrick Squaire said. “Students say their parent will make the subject uneasy to discuss by questioning them and not listening to them. I try to encourage children to find someone older and trustworthy who can steer them in the right direction when it comes to discussing those sensitive subjects. Students often go to their friends for advice, but their friends are around the same age and really don’t know much more past their own experiences. I try to encourage them to speak with a trusted aunt, uncle, older cousin, teacher, counselor, older siblings or their doctor.”