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Time to have the sex talk with your teen

Sarah Wassner Flynn is a New York City-based writer. She's contributed to magazines such as CosmoGIRL!, National Geographic Kids, Runner's World, Women's Health, Prevention and MetroSports New York. She is also the author of The Book of ...

Chat about Sex With Your Teen

Think your teen is itching to dive into the dating scene? Then it is definitely time to sit down and have the sex chat. Too often the teens that start dating without getting briefed on the birds and bees - as well as the ins and outs of relationships - are the ones that wind up getting in trouble. Unplanned teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are preventable and less likely to occur if you foster discussion about them.

Mother and Daughter Chatting
Even if your teen is not having sex yet, there is no doubt that the topic is looming ever-present in his or her head. And as a parent, it is your responsibility to have the important (and, yes, even awkward) sex talk. Here are some things to know before you approach this touchy topic.

THE STATS DO NOT LIE

The next time you tell yourself that your teen is too young to be having sex, consider these scary facts. Each year, 2.6 million teens become sexually active, and approximately one in 13 adolescent girls in the United States become pregnant annually.

The CDC reports that at least 25 percent of teenage girls nationwide have an STD, and rates of those engaging in oral and anal sex are also on the rise. Even if your kids are not having sex yet, they may be venturing into some dangerous waters when it comes to dating. Make sure they are well-informed on the dangers of dating and sex to help prevent them from becoming a statistic.

TOP TALKING POINTS

Your kid has probably picked up the basics about sex at school. You will better communicate with your son or daughter if you skip the generic stuff and focus instead on the more pressing issues, like protection
against STDs and pregnancy.

You will also want to open up a discussion about peer pressure and how sex should be a personal choice – not something to do just because everyone else is doing it. While you chat, keep the tone casual without lecturing, and offer to always be there to discuss any troubles, no matter how sensitive the subject.

BE AWARE OF ONLINE ANTICS

Practically everything a teen does today revolves around the web. Naturally, flirting and dating happens online quite frequently. In fact, experts say that it is a trend among teens today to send their crush nude pictures of themselves via instant message, video or picture phone messaging. While your teen may not go to that extreme, chances are he or she is definitely dabbling in some online flirtation – and possibly even posting some provocative pictures.

To help your kids avoid embarrassment or scandal, let them know that anyone has the ability to check out their online activity, including a college recruiter or a potential boss. Tell them they should only post or share pictures and information that they would be comfortable showing a college recruiter or employer – otherwise, they may ruin their chances of landing an internship or getting into a dream school.

SET A HIGH STANDARD

Even if your teen is acting a bit rebellious these days, he or she is still going to look at you as a role model and take your lead on how to get through life, especially when it comes to relationships. It is important that you are setting a stellar standard with your spouse or partner. For example, minimize fighting, maximize communication, and never trash talk your mate in front of your children. Show your teen the core values of a lasting relationship, through acts of respect, compromise and love.

For more parenting tips and advice, check out the Sheknows.com Parenting Channel. And visit these links for extra advice on rearing teens:

Talking to a pre-teen about sex

Tips for Parents: Talkin' With Teenagers

Teenagers and personality: How parents can help maintain harmony

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