|Parents talking about sex to their children
Mar 16, 1999
Why are parents so afraid to talk to their children about sex?
| Response from Mr. Sowadsky
Thank you for your question. It is true that some parents are very afraid (even terrified) of talking to their children about sexual issues (pregnancy, birth control, safer sex, HIV/STDs, sexual orientation, etc.). This is for several reasons:
1) Some parents feel very uncomfortable talking about sex in general. Many people have no problem engaging in sex, but have a great difficulty talking about it.
2) Some parents incorrectly believe that just talking about sex will make their children have sex. Actually, there is no data supporting the belief that talking about sex makes children have sex any sooner than they normally would. In fact, children who have open communication with their parents about sexual issues tend to be at a lower risk for unwanted pregnancies, HIV, and other STDs.
3) Some parents do not know the answers to their children's questions, and prefer to avoid the subject, rather than admitting that they do not know the answer. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you do not know the answer to a question.
4) Some parents believe that the responsibility of sex education (and related subjects) is the responsibility of the schools, rather than the parents. Actually, it is the responsibility of BOTH the schools AND the parents.
5) Some parents are in denial about their children being sexually active. For some parents, pretending that their children are not having sex is their way of coping with sexual issues. For some people, if you do not talk about it, it does not exist.
6) If sexual issues involve alternative lifestyles (homosexuality, Gay issues, etc.), parents often have an especially difficult time discussing this subject. This is especially true when Gay youth "come out" to their parents. Talking about alternative lifestyles will not turn a child Gay. If Gay issues are brought up, and the parents do not know how to handle the situation, they may want to contact their local chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).
For information on the topic of discussing HIV and STDs with children and teens, read the posting, Educating children and adolescents about safer sex. I also encourage parents to spend time with their children online to help teach them about sexual issues. By spending time together online, parents and children can both learn more about HIV, STDs, and other sexual issues. At the same time, parents can warn their children about the numerous porn sites that are found all throughout the Internet (these sites have material that is usually not appropriate for minors).
If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).
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