Why is it so hard to talk with teens about sex?
By Beth Olson
How did you learn about sex when you were a kid?
I love the way adults laugh and respond to this question.
“I just remember my parents leaving a book in my room.”
“Our football coach taught us … kind of.”
“I didn’t learn anything!”
Then I ask …
Raise your hand if you wish your parents or another trusted adult had talked with you more about sex?
Almost every hand goes up.
And how many of you are comfortable talking to teens about sex and sexual health?
Almost every hand goes down … very quickly.
What is it about sex that makes even the most supportive parent (or other trusted adult) freeze up? You love your kids. You want them to be healthy adults. You equip them with the values and skills needed to navigate so many complex situations. Yet, somehow, the simplest anatomy question can stop Super Mom in her tracks.
Because it’s hard to talk about sex when we have no frame of reference for how the conversation should go.
You’ve been taught your whole life that sex is not an acceptable topic of conversation. It’s private, and it’s not polite. Your parents probably didn’t talk to you about sex. Or if they did, it felt like an awkward scene from an ’80s sitcom. Adults don’t even talk to each other about sexual health. Think about it. When was the last time you casually chatted about birth control side effects at a nice dinner party?
Simply put — we don’t get much practice saying sexual things out loud.
So, let’s change that. Over the next few months, I’ll explore effective ways to talk with teens about sexual health, boundaries, and relationships; how to build trust with young people; and address questions parents often have about sex education.
Together, we can create the first generation of adults who will proudly raise their hands and say, “My parents and mentors worked together to teach me about sex.”
Beth Olson is director of adolescent health initiatives for Prosper Waco.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].