What is “The Talk?”
Some call it the tale of the “birds and the bees;” Others call it “the talk.” Regardless of what you call it, it is almost always associated with feelings of awkwardness, anxiety, and uneasiness. “The talk” consists of a discussion between parents and their child(ren) about sex and sexuality. This discussion can and should include different conversations (over a period of time) about sexual activity, the importance of sex, the appropriate time to begin engaging in sexual activity is, and safe sex.
Preparing Yourself for “The Talk.”
Preparing for the talk can be stressful. Begin by taking a deep breath and thinking about what you want to take away from the conversation. Maybe you want dating advice or perhaps you would like help accessing birth control. Even if you want basic information, planning ahead can help you guide your conversation such that you get the most out of it. It might even be helpful to jot down some of your questions on a notepad or on your phone so that you can make sure all of your questions are answered1.
It is important to also remember that your parents were once in your shoes! They can understand the confusion that comes with early sexual activity1. Your parents are probably just as nervous as you are to have this conversation. Thus, our parents will be thankful that you helped start the important dialogue!
What to Talk About
This is your conversation. You should focus on what you would like to discuss.
Some topics that may be important to discuss with your parents are:
- What age your parents are comfortable with you starting to date.
- What age your parents think is appropriate to begin engaging in sexual activities1.
- Different sexual orientations1
- Birth Control1 and contraceptive options
- Different methods of safe sex1
- How to know when to add sexual intimacy to a relationship2.
- Sexually Transmitted Infections1
- Your parent’s values 2
- Your religion’s values 2
How to Pick the Right Time
Timing is everything! Choose a time when you are alone with your parents. It might be wise to strike up the conversation when you are relaxed and not doing anything time-consuming or distracting2. Such options include while you are watching TV, cleaning up the kitchen, driving somewhere together, or even on a relaxing walk. Make sure to pick a time that will be free of interruptions.
How to Start the Conversation
Now that you have considered what to talk about and when to talk to your parents, it is time to initiate the conversation! There are many ways to start this conversation to make it go as smoothly as possible.
Here are a few ways to break the ice:
- If you are watching TV, use the characters on the show as a way into the topic.
- Choose a movie or TV show to watch together that you know will spark the conversation. For instance, “Juno” or “Teen Mom,” are good options if you want to start discussing birth control.
- If you are not by a TV, start by talking about different couples at school. Then, go on to ask what age your parent started dating.
- Mention something that your sex-ed teacher talked about (if you have one) and tell your parent that you have a question you would rather ask them2.
- Mention that you feel a little uncomfortable but you would like to have an honest conversation2.
- Use http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/sexinfo/ as a way to move into the conversation. It might be helpful to send your parents a link that you found interesting and discuss an article with your parent.
Listen to Each Other
You may not see eye-to-eye with your parents all the time. No matter your relationship, it is important to listen to their input during this type of conversation. Remember we discussed that they have been in your shoes before! Thus, they have more experience, and therefore may be more knowledgeable about the topic than you give them credit. You may find that some of what they are saying may actually be incredibly useful and valuable information. In order to have a proper conversation, you have to be willing to respect and listen to your parent’s opinions3.
If there is something that your parents say that you disagree with, let them know your thoughts on this issue, but continue to value and respect their opinion Having a difference of opinion is okay and may help remind your parent’s that you are mature enough to make your own decisions about your body.
Always remember that even though your parents may give you valuable insight about important topics, your body is your body. Ultimately, only you can decide how to live your sex life.
But What if I Cannot Talk to My Parents?
All families are different. Some parents will not talk to their children about sex and sexuality because of traditional or religious values, or because they do not believe in pre-marital sex. Children from these families were raised to believe that sex is a taboo topic that should be avoided at all costs. Other parents may have a difficult time confronting the fact that their children are sexually active. These parents choose to avoid discussions about sex because they do not wish to see their children in this light.
If you come from this type of family, it might be wise to avoid conversations about sex with your parents as its initiation might lead to an argument2.
Although it is always great to have open discussions about sexuality with your parents, you may choose to seek assistance from another source. Perhaps you have an older sibling or relative who you can confide in. If not, there may be a teacher who you feel particularly close to who you can have this discussion with. Guidance counselors, social workers, and school nurses may also serve as useful resources to have mature conversations about sex and sexuality with2.
There are some people who may not have any adult individual in their community who they feel closely connected to. If you are someone who feels that they cannot have this discussion with anyone in their community, feel free to reach out for hotlines who can assist with any questions and curiousity. For example, certain Planned Parenthood clinics have a sexual health hotline you could phone to get guidance on issues such as birth control, emergency contraception, pregnancy options, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), and other topics about reproductive and sexual health.
Don’t forget that the Sexpert team at SexInfoOnline would love to provide support and answer any questions you have! Our website offers an abundance of information related to topics on sexual health, love, and relationships. Do not hesitate to reach out to us if you are struggling to find answers to any questions or relevant concerns. We want to make sure that any questions you have about sex related topics are answered, especially if you find that all your other resources are lacking. To submit a question or concern, please visit our question forum here: Ask the Sexperts.
- “Talking to your parents about sex." girlshealth.gov. Office of Women’s Health. May 2015. Web. 15 Jan. 2017.
- “Talking to Your Parents." iwannaknow.org. American Sexual Health Association. August 2013. Web. 15 Jan. 2017.
- “Parents & Teachers: Tips & Advice for Talking to Teens About Sex." pamf.org. Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation. August 2013. Web. 15 Jan. 2017.
Last updated February 7, 2017