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How to Talk to Your Parents About Sex

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Mother and daughter having an argument
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Having the "sex talk" with your parents might be awkward, but research shows that teens who talk to their folks about sex are more likely to make smarter decisions about sex, like having it safely and with the right kinds of partners.

Plus, even if it grosses you out to think about it, your parents know their stuff when it comes to sex - and they're a lot easier to get in touch with than Dr. Drew. So when you feel ready for it, find your mom or dad and strike up a conversation.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 10 or 20 awkward minutes

Here's How:

  1. Know the facts about sex. The main reason your parents want to talk to you about sex is because they want to make sure you know the basics. Read up on this sex guide so you can honestly say "yes" when your folks ask you if you know this or that.
  2. Pick a parent, any parent. Not all parents are created equal when it comes to the "sex talk." You'll probably feel more comfortable talking to the one who's the same gender as you, or the parent you're used to sharing the most personal information with.
  3. Pick a place. The best place to have the sex talk is in a comfortable spot, like on the couch, or in the kitchen, where no one else is going to interrupt you or bother you.
  4. Come bearing questions. Your parents can tell you whether something you've heard about sex is fact or fiction, and they can offer you advice about sex, but they're not mind readers. If there's something specific you want to know, bring it up! Ask your questions directly, with as many or few specifics as you feel comfortable sharing.
  5. Know that there are some things your parents shouldn't have to hear. Asking your parents advice about birth control and safe sex is fine, but describing your favorite way to put on a condom is not. Your parents want to help you make good choices about sex, but they don't want to picture you doing it any more than you want to picture them.
  6. Show your parents how mature you are. Maturity goes a long way with parents. It helps them loosen their reins on you and treat you more like a fellow adult. Initiating a sex talk is great proof that you're more mature than a lot of teens. Even better: showing your folks that you know about the risks of sex and the measures you can take to reduce those risks. (If you don't know that stuff yet, learn about it.)
  7. Know that this is just as awkward for your parents as it is for you. In fact, it might even be more awkward for them, because they're the ones who are supposed to be in control and have all the answers. Admit to them that this isn't easy for you. It'll put you both at ease.
  8. Realize that the conversation might end badly. Some parents don't even want to think about sex in the context of their kids, let alone talk to them about it. If your parent is being irrational or refuses to offer up any good info lest they pollute your virgin ears, politely end the conversation.

Tips:

  1. You don't need your parents' permission to learn about sex. If they'd rather withhold information from you, be sure to get advice from someone else (besides your friends) - like your health teacher, another relative or the Teen Advice forum.
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