Talking to your kids about marriage and sexual relationships can be a little daunting. Every child and every situation is different, but we’ve provided some tips and suggestions to help make your conversations easier.

Ten Basic Tips for Success

Talking to your kids about healthy relationships and sexuality

  1. Start Early
    Be the adult, start the conversation! Talk to your children early and often about tough issues like sex, love and relationships. Don’t count on your children feeling comfortable enough to come to you with questions. It’s normal to feel uneasy, try and overcome your feelings. You can do it!
  2. Create an open dialogue
    It’s up to YOU to create the kind of home in which your children feel like they can ask questions about sex, love and relationships.
  3. Listen as much as you talk
    Listening carefully lets your child know they are important. This can lead to valuable discussions about sensitive issues in the future.
  4. Share your values
    When talking with your child about sex, love and relationships remember to include your family’s values. It is often more successful when you are certain in your own mind about these issues.
  5. Supervise and monitor your children and adolescents
    Establish rules, curfews, and standards of expected behavior, preferably through an open process of family discussion and respectful communication. Know your child’s friends and their families. Friends have a strong influence on each other, so help your children and teenagers become friends with kids and families that share your values. Know what your kids are watching, reading and listening to. The media is full of material sending the wrong sexual messages.
  6. Talk about the future
    Help your children have options for the future that are more attractive than early pregnancy and parenthood. The changes that your children will delay sex, pregnancy. and parenthood are significantly increased if their future appears bright.
  7. Be patient and honest
    Let your child think at their own pace. Listen to what they are saying daily about people, places and situations they are in that may be unhealthy, or give cause for concern. Whatever your child’s age, they need honest answers and information. Honesty will build trust for future talks.
  8. Use “teachable moments”
    Moments in everyday life are a perfect chance to begin talking. If you can’t think of how to start the conversation, consider using situations shown on television or movies as conversation starters for teen pregnancy, peer pressure and relationships.
  9. Discourage early, frequent, steady, and older dating
    Group activities among young people are often fun, but allowing teens to begin steady, one on one dating much before 16 can lead to trouble. Take a strong stance on your child not dating someone significantly older than them. The power differences between younger girls and older boys or men can lead to risky behavior and unwanted sex.
  10. Repetition is key
    Talk about it again and again! Resist the idea that there should be only one conversation. Most children only want small bits of information at any one time-especially about serious topics like sex, love and relationships. Give more than just “the talk.”

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So when is the right time?

Topics to discuss…

3 to 5 years

  • Use the correct words for body parts, such as penis and vagina.
  • Love should make people feel good not bad.
  • Bodies are different sizes, shapes, and colors.
  • Their bodies belong to them and their private parts are private.
  • There is a difference between “good” touch and “bad” touch.

5 to 7 years

  • Simply explain the anatomy of where babies come from without the detail of reproduction.
  • Tell your child what to expect during puberty.
  • Do not reprimand your child for exploring their genitals—it is a natural part of growth.
  • Begin talking with your child about when and where it is appropriate when it comes to touching themselves.

8 to 12 years

  • A basic understanding of intercourse and oral sex—discuss male and female reproductive parts and the purpose of each.
  • Discuss your family values, community and peer norms regarding dating and relationships.
  • What can happen if they have sex, including pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Talk about sexual abuse, abusive protect themselves.

13 to 15 years

  • It’s okay to wait to have sex—not everyone is doing it.
  • They are responsible for their choices, behaviors and values.
  • Continue to reinforce the lessons you have taught them thus far.
  • Discuss in more detail preventing sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy.
  • Answer open and honestly any relationships and ways to questions your child asks you about the mechanics of sexual intercourse.

16 + years

  • Talk with your child about hormones and their sexual feelings. Let them know they are normal.
  • Pay attention to what your children are saying about their peers and sex.
  • Continue reinforcing the lessons and values you have taught your child.
  • If they have chosen to be sexually active, talk to them about how to prevent STDs and pregnancy through abstinence and birth control.
  • The most important thing is to not avoid the conversation!

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