It is normal to feel awkward or unsure when talking with your child about sex. Young people need accurate information about sex to negotiate sexual relationships safely and responsibly. Sexuality education should cover a broad range of topics, including the biology of reproduction, relationships, making decisions, sexual preferences, contraception and STIs.
The most influential role models for young people are their parents. Research shows that young people want to talk with their parents about sexual health. Many parents are unsure of where to start or may feel uncomfortable about having these conversations, but avoiding the subject will not stop their children from having sex or keep them safe.
By being honest and open, your child is more likely to turn to you for accurate information and answers to their questions, reducing their risk of being in an unhealthy relationship, experiencing unwanted sex or an unplanned pregnancy, or getting a sexually transmissible infection STI.
Young people are exposed to images and stories about sex through the media and online that can be confusing and confronting. They may also talk with their friends or look online for answers to their questions, but the information they take away will not always be accurate, positive or age appropriate.
Most young people look for information about sexual health at some stage, with most turning to their mother 36 per cent or a female friend 41 per cent , using their school sexual health program 43 per cent or the internet 44 per cent , or talking to their doctor 29 per cent or teacher 28 per cent. Research shows that talking to young people about sex does not encourage them to experiment sexually. It also shows that young people who receive comprehensive sexuality education have a lower risk of experiencing unplanned pregnancy and are more likely to delay their first sexual experience.
Parents may want to know about the specific content and messages that are delivered. They may, for example, ask whether or not the program is pro-choice or if it delivers sex-positive messages.
Research shows that school-based sexuality education improves sexual health outcomes for young people. Sexuality education is a way of providing children and young people with the skills and knowledge to manage their sexual wellbeing. It can also provide them with the fundamental tools they need to have healthy, responsible and satisfying sexual lives.
How and when to start sex education It is normal to feel awkward or unsure when talking with your child about sex.
Most adults feel this way when they start having these conversations, but you will become more confident with time and practise. The easiest way is to start from a young age by using the correct names for body parts. You are not expected to have all the answers. If you cannot answer a question, you can suggest finding the information together. Remember to keep the answer age appropriate and short, as your child can ask more questions if they need to.
Preparing yourself for talking about sex The first step in talking to your child about sexuality is to prepare yourself. You are not alone if you feel unsure, as many adults have not had comprehensive sexuality education. Ways to prepare yourself for talking with your child about sex may include: Try to use everyday moments as opportunities to start talking about sex.
Television shows, news stories and radio topics can all be great starting points. Contraception It is important to talk with your child about contraception and how to practice safer sex. The reasons some young people do not use contraception include: Gender roles Gender roles are a key part of sexual relationships. Young people learn about adult relationships by watching how their parents interact, which can then influence their own sexual relationships.
Young people need to learn that in a relationship, contraception is the responsibility of both partners. Young men and women should be given accurate information about contraception, STIs and unplanned pregnancy to help them make informed decisions.
Making decisions about sex Young people need to learn how to negotiate sexual experiences positively and responsibly. Ways to help your child make safe and informed sexual decisions include: Ground rules at home Most young people will become sexually active at some stage.
Not allowing them to have sex at home will not stop them from having sex. You will need to decide on the ground rules about sexual behaviour in your home, which could include whether or not your child is allowed to have their partner in their bedroom or to stay the night.
The best time to decide on these rules is when you are talking openly about sex and before the situation arises. Sexuality education should cover a broad range of topics, including the biology of reproduction, relationships, making decisions, sexual and gender diversity, contraception and STIs.