Photo: Valery Kenski
Justin Hancock, author of Talking To Teens About Sex, explains how to avoid awkward conversations about the birds and the bees with your child
Lots of parents worry that they'll have to reveal information to their kids about their sex life or sexual history. You really don’t have to (sex educators don’t) and your kids probably won't want to hear it. Would you expect your teen to tell you everything about their sex life?
Talk about other people
A great way to make talking about sex and relationships easier is to talk about other people. This means talking about the sex lives and relationships of people on soaps or celebrities. Making it not about you or them is a really useful approach.
Listen hard and talk soft
All parents want their teens to be safe, but sometimes the anxiety about them staying safe can lead to lecturing them and telling them what to do without actually listening to what they're saying. For sex talks to work they have to be engaged conversations, which means with real communucation. This involves body language, partly, but also it’s about not being afraid of awkward silences. Also try asking open questions (questions which you can’t answer with a yes or no) and really listening to the responses.
You both may find face to face chatting difficult, so maybe you could leave a book or two in their room. Or leave useful web addresses around (there are links to good sex ed sites at bishUK.com).
Just do it (little and often)
A big mistake that a lot of parents make is to think of this as one big sex talk. Little and often is best. Once you’ve started it gets a lot easier and eventually you’ll be able to talk about sex and relationships in the same normal way you'd talk about anything else. In the car, whilst washing the pots or whilst watching telly offer great opportunities for chatting - not least because you don't have to look at each other.
More advice from Bish for parents.
Leave relevant web pages you think will be helpful open on a shared family computer. They will be able to look at the information on there if they are curious.
The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or CEOP.
First published: May 2014
Updated: May 2018