Hey parents, let’s talk! It’s hard to come by a conversation with your kids that involves dating, sex, and safety when this is a conversation that might not have been brought up frequently when you were younger. Or maybe you’re nervous that you might not say the “right” words. Just remember, you are the primary sexuality educators for your children and—believe it or not–they want to hear this information from you.
Let’s Talk Month
October is “Let’s Talk Month” making it the perfect time to have a conversation about healthy and safe relationships. Research shows that 57 percent of Nebraska teens have sex before graduating from high school. And 16 is the average age Nebraska teens are having sex for the first time.
Young people want to communicate with their parents, but it’s important to know that threats or warnings are not effective. Instead, provide your child with thoughtful, open, and caring conversations that show them how much you care. If you’re clear and honest, they are more likely to listen to you and see you as a credible source.
These conversations (because it should be ongoing and more than just “the talk”) should include discussions about consent and healthy relationships in addition to safer sex resources and dating. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends talking to youth about sex as early as age 9 or 10 with discussions about healthy relationships even earlier. The sooner you implement messages that prevent unhealthy relationships, the better.
Messages that encourage healthy relationships
Here are some messages that you can use with your children to encourage healthy relationships from an early age:
- “You don’t have to kiss or hug anyone you don’t want to.”
- “Good friends are nice to each other and take turns talking and listening to each other.”
- “People who care about each other treat each other with respect, even when they disagree with each other.”
- “In a relationship, it’s never OK for one person to pressure the other to do anything they don’t want to do.”
- “Consent is how you and your partner both know that anything you do together is OK and wanted by both of you.”
- “You can always come to me for help.”
Your kids will thank you
Young people want these conversations with their parents, even if it can be uncomfortable at first. Your kids will thank you later when they realize that you care about their feelings and thoughts surrounding all parts of their life and their overall health and well-being.