What to Tell Your Teen About Sex

Find tips that can help you raise the subject of sex, express your views, and present important information to your teenager.
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What to Tell Your Teen About Sex

Info Flash

53 percent of high school students say they've had sex. This means that your teen may have sex, regardless of the values you've conveyed. It is vital to talk to your teen about safe sex.

If you're dead-set against sexual activity before marriage (or during the teen years), you can say, “I am opposed to sex for teenagers because I think that a sexual relationship should be saved for when you're older. However, I'm not an idiot, and I know you may disagree with me. If you should get to this point, please take precautions to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.” (You will, of course, have explained STDs and talked about “precautions” before this.)

How do you feel about sex and your teenager? Perhaps you hold a very strong religious or moral opinion on the issue. If so, then this is what you'll convey to your teen.

Or maybe you feel that expecting you teenager to wait until after marriage to have sex isn't realistic. Yet you want guidelines and suggestions on how to make your teen wait as long as possible and to take good care of himself or herself (physically and emotionally) in the process.

Or perhaps you don't really know. You may simply feel confused, or you may have issues in your own life (a bad experience in your past or a troubled relationship, for example) that hamper your ability to be clear on this issue with your teen. Don't blame yourself; it isn't an easy issue for anybody.

Okay, let's add to your confusion (before giving your some answers). Consider the following questions:

  • Do you believe it's okay for him to have pre-marital sex by the time he's in college?
  • Well, if having sex at age 18 is okay, what's wrong with 16?
  • How do you feel if he's had sex without protection?
  • And if he becomes sexually active in middle adolescence, are you at all concerned with how many sexual partners he may have over the years?

And what if all the above pronouns were replaced with “she.” Do you feel differently?

Even if you don't know exactly how you feel about your teen and sex, you surely have strong opinions about relationships. Talking to your teen about what constitutes a positive marriage or long-term liaison is a very important piece that needs to be conveyed to your teenager.