The Talk

Be encouraged parents, teens say you still are the most influential person in talking to them about sex, love, and relationships. Despite what you may think, your influence has not been lost to friends and popular culture. Your guidance can help them successfully navigate the minefield of relationships and save them from making unhealthy decisions.

Here are some suggestions from The National Campaign that we think might be helpful in conversations you should have with your sons and daughters.

First and foremost- you matter more than you know.
Be approachable and honest with your teen. Allow them to share, while you sit and listen.
Remember it matters what you do, not just what you say.
Actions speak louder than words. If the relationship you have with your spouse is one that is respectful, rich in communication, and filled with trust and love, your sons and daughters will notice.
Who's in charge?
Remind young people that they are in charge of their own life. Tell them not to let anyone pressure them into being in a relationship until they are absolutely sure they are ready. And remind them that they can always change their minds if they make a choice and realize later that they regret it. In other words, saying ‘yes’ once doesn’t mean you can’t say ‘no’ later.
How to deal with pressure.
Lots of teens say that they feel pressure in their relationships to have sex. In fact, many think that having sex is the price of entry for a relationship or the thing that will keep a relationship together. As adults, we know that this is both untrue and, even worse, extremely unhealthy thinking. Your advice should be direct: If sex is the price of a relationship, find someone else.
Be respectful and talk honestly about relationships.
One of teens’ consistent gripes over the years is that parents don’t take teen relationships seriously. Over and over again teens have told us that they want parents to know that just because they are young doesn’t mean that they can’t fall in love. They want parents to know that the feelings they have are very real to them. Let them know that you hear them and that you are respectful of the feelings they have. At the same time, don’t be shy about telling them what you think and why you think the way you do. Remember though, it should be a conversation, not a lecture.
Remember, it's not just what's "safe", it's what's right.
Help young people understand that in addition to the potential physical consequences of sex-you might get pregnant or contract an STD-they should carefully consider the potential emotional consequences of sexual activity. Be worried about pregnancy for sure, but also be mindful of your heart. Let your teen sons and daughters know that six in ten sexually experienced teens say they wish they had waited until they were older to have sex. It is a known fact that more then half of the teens in the United States are not sexually active. Also reiterate to them that just because they’ve said ‘yes’ before, doesn’t mean they can’t say ‘no’ now.
Let them know you are on call 24/7.

To circle back to where we started-teens really do want to hear from their parents about relationships, even if they do not always act like it. And it’s never too late (or too early) to start these conversations – there are appropriate messages and conversation-starters for every age group. Make sure that your sons and daughters know that you are always there for them, that you always have a sympathetic ear, and that no topic is off-limits. Never underestimate the great need that children feel-at all ages”for close relationships with their parents and for their parents’ guidance, approval, and support. This may mean some extremely awkward or difficult conversations. It may mean resisting, with all of your willpower, the urge to cover your ears and pretend your child did not just ask you that question. But know that it’s just as awkward and difficult for them to broach the subject as it is for you to hear it. Address their concerns and questions with respect and sensitivity and, over time, both you and your teen will become comfortable having these conversations.

Find the complete article on The National Campaign – Parents