Health

Do I Need to Talk to My Children About Sex?

Let's face it: children today are constantly exposed to sexual messages. As your kids get older they are going to have questions about sex, sexuality and healthy relationships.

Talking with your kids about sex can be difficult and uncomfortable - not only for them but for you too. For some parents, it's easier to simply avoid the conversation altogether.

But consider this: the average age Canadians have sex for the first time is 16.5. By some estimates, more than half of all teens will have had sex by the time they finish high school. Talking to your kids about sex can arm them with the information they need to protect themselves and make the right choices.

The Sex Education Myth

Talking about sex with friends can be embarrassing enough for kids, let alone asking their parents about it (gasp!). They may feel that you would be upset with them for bringing it up, or that there's something wrong with them for thinking about it. With all the risks out there such as diseases and unwanted pregnancies, having your child's questions go unanswered can be dangerous.

Myth: «If I talk to my children about sex, they will become sexually active.»

Reality: Research on sex education actually reveals the opposite. Teens whose parents engaged them in sexual education tend to postpone becoming sexually active, have less sex and have more responsible sex (i.e. higher rates of using contraceptives) than those whose parents were non-communicative.

Role of the Parent

While it may be hard to believe, mom and dad are the first sources of information about sexuality. Research shows that teens still want supportive advice, information, and guidance from their parents. So keep the following in mind:

Developing a basic knowledge about issues such as dating, contraception, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and the human body can prepare you for conversations with your kids.

You don't need answers for every question! If you do not know the answer to a question your child asks, don't hesitate to say so - offer to find out and get back to them.

Establishing a line of communication with your children so that they feel comfortable talking to you about sex is what is important. Creating an environment of trust and support and engaging them in a two-way discussion, rather than simply imposing your views, is the best way to reach them.

There is no way of knowing how much your children know - or don't know - about sex unless you talk to them. One thing is certain: not knowing about sex does not prevent teens from having it. Offering your guidance and support ensures that your children have the information they need to be happy, healthy and responsible.

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC)

Founded in 1944, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada is comprised of over 3,000 professional members, including gynaecologists, obstetricians, family physicians, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals. A leading authority on reproductive health care, the SOGC produces national clinical guidelines for both public and medical education on important women's health issues. For more informations on sexuality, visit Sexualityandu.ca.

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