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How to have “The TALK” with your Teenager

Mother and daughter on tablet computer
This generation of teens wants and NEEDS their parents to be honest with them and real. They want more than just communication, they need connection! You have to be willing to share your heart and be sincere. So here are some great conversation ideas and questions to consider:

1. Break the Ice: With today’s social media savvy teens, get in their world and online with them, watch a TV show or movie together and if sex is presented, discuss it! Ask your teen why they think there is so much sexual activity on TV and everywhere around them? Try to lead them to realize that the media is more interested in money… not morality. Help them to understand that casual, commitment-less sex isn’t going to lead to the healthiest relationship nor help achieve their future goals.

2. How can I help my teen deal with peer pressure? Peer pressure doesn’t always have to be bad; it can be positive or negative. Make sure you know your teen’s friends. Don’t be afraid to influence your teen’s relationships. Teens can either talk each other into sex, drugs, alcohol, smoking and other risky behaviors, or they can talk each other out of it. Equip your teen with the risks and consequences of these activities.

3. When is it appropriate to have the “The Talk?” There’s no magical age and there’s not just one talk to have! Discussing the “facts of life” and sharing your values and expectations about love, relationships and sex should be a continuous conversation that starts almost as early as your child’s first words. (Hint: Don’t start the conversation at 15, and expect your teen to suddenly be responsive.) Of course, what and how much you share will vary greatly based on age. You know your child best. Follow your instincts and pay attention to what interests him or her. The younger a child is, the simpler and shorter your answers should be. Get into their life and their world early, and stay there. Care about the things they care about. If you don’t talk to your kids about relationships, love and sex… the media and their just-as-confused friends will. Wouldn’t you prefer they get their information from you?

4. What if I made mistakes in my past and they consider me a hypocrite? If your oldest child was conceived before marriage, eventually he or she may do the math. But whether your child was ‘planned’ or not, no child is a mistake. All children are priceless and have value; this is a message worth repeating throughout your child’s life. You do not have to share your mistakes with your child, but you must share the truth. If your child knows about your sexual past, keep in mind that if you tell them not to do what you do, then you’re a hypocrite. If you tell them not to do what you have done, then you are a teacher.

5. Equip your teen to be able to defend their stance: Don’t just tell your teen, “Don’t have sex.” Equip them with reasons why and provide them with refusal skills, as well as discuss specific boundaries. Teens long to feel grown-up. Don’t act like you know it all and talk condescending to them in any way. Be careful when approaching the topics of love, sex, and dating that you’re not communicating in a way that says that you still see them as just a kid.

6. What if I suspect that my teen is already sexually active? Talk to your teen and reassure them how much you love them no matter what. The best thing to do is to have an open conversation about the risks involved, and possible consequences such as an unintended pregnancy, a sexually transmitted disease, or emotional issues such as heartbreak and regret. Discuss how leaving sex out of the current relationship could actually strengthen it by freeing up time and energy to get to know each other socially, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually – not just physically. You may also explain how dating without becoming physically and emotionally attached through sex is a healthier, happier path to a lasting marriage.