- Sexual activity may start earlier than you expect. Begin talking about sexuality and your expectations on the topic when your kids are young, and continue the conversations as they grow. It can be tough to start the conversation, but remember that educating your kids early is important for their future safety.
- Realize that “sexual activity” includes everything from kissing to petting to sexual intercourse. Kids often experiment with kissing (closed mouth and open mouth) at early ages.
- Ask your kids about their sexual values. Do they think it’s important to wait until they’re adults before having sexual intercourse? Or until they marry? Talk about sexual values with them, and don’t assume that they have the same sexual values that you do.
- If your child is dating, talk about it. Some kids think the only requirement for having sex is “falling in love.”
- If your child is sexually active and comes to you for advice, listen to what she has to say. Ask questions. Offer your help. You can influence your child, but ultimately she will make her own decisions.
- Educate your child about the dangers of unprotected sex—including early childbearing—and the range of diseases to prevent. If you are not comfortable having these conversations, ask another adult whom your child trusts to address the subject. Sexually Transmitted Infections: Information for Teens from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation contains useful information about sexually transmitted infections.
- Talk about your sexual values and your expectations for your kids. Kids are more likely to follow your expectations—if they know what they are. They’re also more likely to embrace your values if you can make the case for them.