May is National Adolescent Health Month, a good reminder to take care of our health. Conversations about sexual health can also happen at home! That’s right. A parent or trusted adult in your life can answer your questions or be a really good source of information. Remember, they were once your age and, while it may seem awkward, they may be more helpful than you think.
Who is a trusted adult?
A trusted adult is someone older, who you trust to be open, honest and helpful. This might be a parent, grandparent, older sibling, another relative like an aunt or uncle, a friend’s parent, coach, or a teacher. It’s best to have a conversation with a parent, but if you feel you can’t talk to them, for whatever reason, seek out another trusted adult you can confide in to have these conversations. Think about the adults in your life who have supported you and who you would trust to talk to about personal things. And remember, you can always be open with a doctor or clinic staff.
How do I start a conversation?
- Prepare. Before you start a conversation with an adult in your life, think about what you want to say. Maybe you have questions about a relationship, or maybe you aren’t sure if you are ready to start birth control. One conversation won’t give you enough time to cover every single topic, so you might want to start with something small or easier to talk about, then work up to the big stuff.
- Acknowledge if you are uncomfortable. Say something like, “this is uncomfortable” or “I am not sure how to ask this but …” Chances are the trusted adults are a little bit uncomfortable too, so calling out your discomfort can help ease some of the pressure. Humor helps, too.
- You don’t have to make it about you. You can say something like “a lot of kids at school are starting birth control and I am not sure what I think about that,” or “someone in my class came out as gay.” Making your conversation about someone else can help take off some of the pressure, and allow you and the trusted adult in your life to explore your shared values and ideas in a more comfortable way.
- Make it about them! Ask adults what they think. Ask them about their personal values. You can also ask them about what things were like when they were your age. Listening to their ideas, values, and experiences can help you better understand your own.
What else can I do?
- Share resources! There are a lot of great resources for parents like Talk With Your Kids, which was created in partnership with TeenSource.org.
- Talking is Power. May is also Talking Is Power Month and Power to Decide has resources and videos for trusted adults to help them talk to the young people in their lives. Share these websites with the trusted adults in your life and help them start the conversation with you.
Are you thinking about going to a health center but, for whatever reason, can’t bring an adult with you? It’s ok. In California you have a right to get condoms, birth control, STI tests, and more without an adult present- and you do not need permission. It’s always a good idea to involve your parent(s) or a trusted adult. But if you can’t, be sure you know your rights!