Talking to your children about sex can help prevent sexual abuse because they will be better equipped to understand setting boundaries and respecting those boundaries in themselves and others. Researchers say that conversations about sexuality also lead to less risky sexual behavior, should teenagers choose to engage in sex. The following information is from the “Take Action” section of DECIMOS NO MÁS, a sister campaign to NO MORE that provides guidance to Latin@ parents so they can have meaningful conversations with their children about healthy sexuality, communication, and relationships.
In order to have honest and insightful conversations with your children about healthy sexuality, first educate yourself so you can answer appropriately the inevitable string of questions they will have.
Learn about the various methods for pregnancy prevention and their respective rate of effectiveness
Learn how STDs are transmitted, how to detect them, and how to prevent them
Learn more about how to have a healthy relationship with one’s own body and sexuality in a way that reflects your values.
It’s worth it to take the time to learn about the different aspects of healthy sexuality so that your children do not walk away with myths or misinformation. See this page for resources on how to further your personal education.
Share your knowledge
Think about ways to impart your knowledge, formally or informally. Prepare yourself to recognize seemingly innocuous moments that open the door to educate your children about healthy sexuality. For example, if your child comes home from school and tells you that school officials made some classmates change their clothes because their attires were inappropriate, you can ask for your child’s thoughts about the school officials’ actions, and how those actions tie to a person’s sexuality.
Alternatively, you can talk with your children about healthy sexuality through “formal” time set aside to sit down and discuss it. Some parents find it easier to go into the conversation when both they and their children are expecting what the conversation will entail.
Take a step
If you were to consider running a marathon, you would first think about what you need to do – what kind of training schedule you will follow, what type of shoes will maximize your speed, how you will track progress, and how you will hold yourself accountable to accomplish your goal. The same concept applies when you prepare to talk with your children about healthy sexuality. For example, before you explain to your daughter the importance of scheduling an appointment each year with a gynecologist, you should first talk with her about her vagina. Taking the first step in conversations about healthy sexuality may mean practicing in the mirror or talking to your partner about it. The point is simply taking that first step.