Why is it important to talk to our children and teens?
As children get older not only are they curious about their feelings and how their bodies react but they are also likely to be exposed to a variety of sexualised content via the media, the internet, gaming and from friends. It is important that your children get the correct information and at a time that is right for them. That said, it doesn’t mean that parents/carers automatically feel confident about discussing such matters as relationships, sexuality, contraception, STIs and pornography. Some of these topics can prove challenging and sometimes uncomfortable however the sooner parents/carers are able to be open about discussing such matters the easier conversations can become as their children grow and enter the adolescents phase of their lives. It is normally at this time when young people become increasingly aware of their feelings towards others and the time when the most challenging developmental stage of their lives takes place.
Good sex and relationship education should not be a one off conversation but an ongoing situation that is built on gradually as children get older. Situations on TV or in films are often good opportunities to establish how much your children actually understand and can be a good point at which to start a conversation. Sometimes it’s easier to have the chat whilst other activities are taking place i.e. car journeys, washing dishes etc. There is evidence that shows that young people who are able to communicate in an open and honest way with parents/carers about sex are more likely to have sex after they reach the age of 16 and not before. It is also more likely that they will be prepared for this experience through awareness of contraception and staying safe rather than taking chances with their sexual partners. It will also help them to build self-esteem as well as self-worth so they are less likely to be forced into doing something with a partner they do not wish to do. Parents/Carers should feel able to talk about consent and body image and help young people to understand that despite portrayal of sexual relationships in pornography it is not like that in the real world.
Your child can get free confidential advice from all of our sexual health clinics. It is illegal to have sex under the age of 16 however we will give contraception and advice to young people under the age of 16 if they seek our help and support. For parents/carers accepting that your children are growing up and becoming sexual beings can be emotionally challenging however reassurance and acceptance from you can make all the difference to them making informed and safe choices.