Families are all different and there are no universal rules or recipes to deal with the issues that arise within the family, but if we look at our family context as a safe place, where we can question, expose our fears, insecurities, and anxieties, we can grow and develop a good communication bridge between the different elements. The family can be a space for sharing even when it comes to talking about sexuality.
"But why am I going to talk to my kid about sex if they hasn't asked anything?"
Well, first of all, let me tell you that it's impossible to get away from the topic. Even if your child doesn't talk about sex or sexuality, that doesn't mean they has no doubts. Keep in mind that a lack of openness at home can lead your child to look for information in less suitable places or people.
Starting the conversation about sexuality does not lead to an early onset of sexuality. On the contrary, talking about sex or sexuality on a continuum, as doubts arise, allows the adolescent to make more thoughtful decisions and the beginning of their sex life to be more aware and with less risk.
Second, parents or caregivers need to understand that their role is to monitor, listen and be aware. Listening is more important than talking. In the end, it's our teenagers who decide which way they want to go.
Respect and honesty in the face of your children's feelings and doubts is the key to healthy communication - don't forget that opinions should be shared and not imposed!
- "So how can I approach the discussion of topics related to sexuality and sex?"
First of all, get ready and inform yourself!
Try to find out more about some more specific issues, such as contraceptive methods, sexually transmitted infections, laws and consent.
- "How can I conduct these conversations more smoothly?"
Adopt an accepting, non-judgmental stance;
Actively listen, support and validate your child's feelings;
Give them space to express their feelings and ideas;
Try to make these moments informal and natural;
Don't pressure them or force them to talk about it;
Be honest about your own feelings, fears and concerns;
Use the proper names when referring to different parts and functions of the body;
Share correct and adequate information whenever you can.
Don't forget that our teenagers are exposed to sexuality and sex from a very early age - social media and television are just one example, so it's important to understand what they really know about sexuality and sex. It is essential to convey a clear and objective message about the topic.
-"So what are the essential topics I should cover?"
Try to find out what your teen already knows - be interested in their views on sex and try to correct information that isn't correct;
Try to find the right moments to start a conversation - try to find out which are the right moments in everyday life to talk about sex and sexuality;
Emphasize the importance of safe sex - make sure your child understands when and how to use different contraceptive methods;
Be open and available - be available for any question. If you don't know how to answer, look for the answer together, show him how to find reliable and secure information.
Talk about values - Explore your feelings, values, beliefs and attitudes about sex. Explore what sex and sexuality mean to them;
Talk about relationships - sex is a way of relating to others, therefore, it should be based on respect, trust and honesty;
Sex is not the only way to show affection or desire - hugging, kissing, holding hands are also ways to show our affection for another person;
Talk about emotional consequences - address the issue of sexual abuse and the importance of consent;
Reinforce the importance of consent - those involved in the situation must agree with what is happening and that they can stop or change their minds at any time;
Listen carefully - Try to understand your teen's pressure, challenges and concerns before speaking;
Don't just focus the conversation in one direction - share your concerns as well, be open and talkative.
Don't lecture - explain to your child that they will always make the decisions about their sex life. Explain to them the reason for this discussion.
Don't scare them away - a calm, open, and thoughtful conversation goes a long way toward getting your child to pay attention to the message you're trying to get across;
If your child is already sexually active - try to see if their behaviors are safe and encourage them to get a sexual checkup.