How late is too late to talk to your kids about safe sex? How about after they’ve already become sexually active? According to a new study out of Harvard, nearly 40% of parents do just that.
The study surveyed teens aged 13 to 17 to find out about their sexual activities and what issues they had discussed with their parents. The researchers also talked to the parents of these teens to determine what they had talked to their kids about. The surveys were repeated three, six and twelve months later.
What the researchers discovered is that when it comes to talking about sex, many parents don’t go beyond the “what goes where” basics.
According to the responses from both parents and teens, a quarter of girls were not given information about how to resist pressure to have sex. Two in five said they hadn’t even discussed birth control and what to do if a partner refuses to wear a condom. As for the boys, one third of them reported not being taught how to use a condom before they became sexually active.
Interestingly, the 141 parents surveyed could be probably be accurately described as being “motivated” regarding educating their children about sex. Every one of the adult participants were chosen from a group who had volunteered to take part in a project called “Talking Parents.” Do these parents really represent that rest of us?
While the researchers believe a more representative sample would reveal an even larger percentage of parents who put off talking to their kids about these issues, I am not so sure. Participation in such a group could indicate these parents have a higher than average awareness of the importance of preparing teens for sex. On the other hand, they could just as easily represent parents who know they are lagging and are therefore looking for help in talking to their kids.
So, when is the right time to start talking to your kids about sex? According to the experts, yesterday. They say talking to your kids early and often about their bodies and what all those parts are for will make those later conversations less awkward and uncomfortable for everyone involved.
What about you? How do you deal with sexuality with your own children? Are you giving them information as they grow up? Or are you waiting for the right moment to have “the talk?”