Three tips for talking about sex with your teenager

Photo by Daria Tumanova on Unsplash

Many parents wonder what attitude to adopt towards their teenager to address issues related to sexuality. How to talk about it with him? Inform him of the risks? At what moment ? Should we wait for the young person to talk about it spontaneously or, on the contrary, take the first step? Some questions, among others, that parents dread. However, the educational role of the adult is also to be able to provide answers to young people in this area of ​​life.

Sexuality exists and begins at the beginning of life.

The various manifestations of adolescence (puberty, new discoveries, particularly sexual ones) suggest, wrongly, that sexuality begins at this time.

On the contrary, it evolves from the birth of the individual, and will continue to evolve throughout life, depending on age and the events encountered by each person during their personal history.

From the age of three the child manifests a sexual curiosity. He becomes aware of the anatomical difference between the sexes, that is to say the presence or absence of the penis. He caresses his penis during games, baths, etc. Often, moreover, the parent does not want to see him or punishes the child. However, it is from this age that the adult has an educational role to play with the child, an important role for the continuation of the latter’s learning.

It is during adolescence that both physiological and psychological changes take place that will be necessary for the young person to move from infantile sexuality to that of adult. Childhood sexuality is essentially auto-erotic, it is not yet turned towards the other, it will be in adolescence, from puberty. This passage is a transition, which can last several years, according to the rhythm of each one.

It should always be borne in mind that infantile sexuality, and even that of the 17-year-old adolescent, is different from that of the adult. Questions, emotional needs and desires are not the same.

1) Do not interfere in the privacy of your teenager

You should not provoke discussion about sexuality with your teenager, but rather be attentive, listen to him and know how to seize the right moment. We can, for example, already ask him what he knows about sexuality. It is important not to be intrusive, this would have the opposite effect expected and the teenager would risk completely closing himself off.

Teenagers need, to build themselves, to have their secrets and sexuality is one of them; you have to respect that by not asking to know their sexuality.

However, it is important never to evade a question about sexuality asked by a child, even very young, in order not to dramatize the subject but rather to tell the child that he has the right to talk about it. and that his questions are legitimate.

2) Never talk about your own sexuality

As the media child psychiatrist, Marcel Rufo, reminds us: he is strictly forbidden to talk about your own sexuality with your child and intimacy is the key to sexuality.
It is important that children ignore the sexuality of their parents, and this, at any age! One cannot share his sex stories with his teenager, nor let him tell his own.

A young person discovers sexuality with another young person of his age and not through the stories of his parents. On the contrary, the discovery of sexuality must be an extra-familial transgression.

You have to trust teenagers, they already know a lot about sexuality! And above all, we must not try to “blur” the differences between generations: our children are not our friends!

In addition, parents need to be careful not to project their own anxieties or fears or bad experiences onto their children.

3) Don’t feel obligated to talk about it if you’re not comfortable

A parent who feels uncomfortable with their teen about sexuality issues should not feel compelled to talk about it with him, for several reasons.

First, the adolescent will feel the parent’s embarrassment, which may have repercussions on his representations of sexuality (taboo? something dangerous? etc.).

The adult could have a negative reaction, which could lead to later difficulties for the teenager if one day he needed to share with his parent a serious situation (particularly sexual assault) that he was going through.

Sometimes it happens that one of the parents feels more comfortable than the other, depending on the gender as well (dad/boy; mom/daughter). It is a discussion to be had at the level of the couple in order to be able to provide an answer to their child when the time is right and simply direct them to the parent most inclined to the discussion.

Offering teenagers a dedicated space, with people outside the family circle and able to answer their questions, is quite conceivable. The child and the parents will then feel more at ease. The important thing is to hear the request of your child and to offer him a space adapted to his needs to know at the time.

However, if all else goes well, it is not necessary to offer the adolescent a meeting in private consultation with a specialist (sex therapist or therapist who, generally in a practice, deals with sexual or relational difficulties) but to offer him a family planning meeting, for example. These are resource places dedicated to the sexual education of young people and can answer their questions related to sexuality; they offer several meeting arrangements: in groups, individually or simply information with brochures, books, films etc. Family planning is also authorized to deliver contraception.

To remember

  • Human sexuality is an apprenticeship and the adult has a major educational role to play with young people. It is necessary to sensitize children early on to sexuality, with a discourse adapted according to age. It is a question with the youngest of laying down the basic notions of respect for others, tolerance, consent.
  • Concerning adolescents, they must be mobilized on sexual health issues in order to avoid the risks of unwanted early pregnancies as well as sexually transmitted infections.
  • Sexuality education helps to fight against sexual violence.
  • In order to protect children against sexual violence, it is necessary to remind children that their body belongs to them, that no one has the right to touch it, not even a loved one. The child must also know how to name the different parts of his anatomy.

Stay informed about sexual health

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