October is “Let’s Talk Month” -- a month that encourages parents, caregivers, and other trusted adults to talk with the young people in their lives about sexual health. You don’t have to wait for an adult to have a conversation with you, use this time to start a conversation with the adults in your life! Chances are you as a teen have the same concerns as your parents or caregivers when it comes to starting a conversation:
- “Should I talk with them about it?”
- “Will this be awkward?”
- “How will they react?”
No matter how weird it might seem, these are conversations worth having. Adults have tons of wisdom and experience to share, so if you feel safe talking to them, here are some tips on how to start the conversation. If you don’t feel safe or comfortable talking to your parents, you can talk with another trusted adult like an older sibling, family member, your friend’s parent, a mentor, a coach, staff at your school. These tips will work with them, too!
Think About Timing and Location
Finding the right time to talk is critical. You want to choose a private setting, somewhere where both you and your parent/s or trusted adult are comfortable and can talk without any interruptions. You can also think about times where you’re talking next to a person instead of looking directly at them, like when you’re in a car, walking the dog or washing dishes. This can make things feel less awkward because you’re not looking eachother in the eyes.
You and your parent might have different views on sex and the topics that surround it and that’s perfectly fine. It is important to listen to one another, as well as acknowledge each other’s views and concerns. Try your best to be polite, to listen, not speak above one another, and to be honest. Listen to what your parents have to say; you may learn something from their point of view. You may even find out you agree more than you thought.
Try a Conversation Starter
Talking about sex with your parent shouldn’t be a one-time thing– it’s an ongoing conversation. To start things off you can use the world around you, like referring to things in the media or stuff your friends have said. Consider these as possible conversation starters:
- “I saw _____ in a (movie, show, web page), what is that?”
- “Did your parent/s talk with you about sex?”
- “How/When did you first learn about sex?”
- “____ started using birth control, what do you think about that?”
Teach Your Parents
A teachable moment is when someone uses what is going on around them to teach a lesson. For example, if you see something on TV or in a movie, ask your parents what they think about it.
If your parent uses a word of phrase that is not accurate or outdated, let them know and talk to them about why it is not accurate. For example, identities and words for identities are constantly changing. If your parents use a word or phrase to refer to a group of people that you know is outdated, you can nicely let them know what word would be better and why.
If you are not sure why, you can you can look it up together. You may also know more about things like birth control methods that have changed and advanced over time. Teach your parents something new or research birth control options together on TeenSource!
Although you have the right to make personal and private decisions about your sexual and reproductive health without parental consent, whenever possible, it is a good and helpful practice to involve your parents or other trusted adults in your life when you have health needs or questions. If you feel safe starting the conversation, you may find that they are glad and relieved that you are being open and came to them with your questions. That can go a long way. You can also direct your parents or care givers to Talk With Your Kids, a website where they can get more information about how to start a conversation with you or your sisters and brothers – in an open, informed and non-judgmental way.