4teenz has been developed by Open Doors Counselling and Educational Services as a source of information and support for young people aged from about 11 – 16.
Information is presented from a value base that promotes the healthiest option for young people, that of postponing sexual activity as a teenager.
As the parent of your child, your role is the most important one in this area. Your children learn from what you say and what you stay silent about. Staying silent sends a message that you are not prepared to talk about this topic with your child. Your child will look elsewhere for information and values, like friends, magazines and the internet. These other sources may not be accurate or present the values you feel comfortable with.
Parents need to establish a pattern of good communication about sex, right from the start. This is a vital part of helping your child avoid undue risk taking in later years.
Talking to your child about sex
When is “the right time” to talk about sex?
There is no right time, or right age.
It’s more a matter of responding in a natural way to the questions your children ask, from toddlerhood up.
Kids are full of questions about everything. Don’t let sex be the topic they learn not to ask you – their parent – about.
If you lay the groundwork when they are little, the element of embarrassment or hesitation can be overcome.
It has been said that the media – who loves your children the least – tells them the most about sex; while you – who love your children the most, often tell them the least…
Children learn best about sexuality when –
- information is given within a warm, healthy, parental relationship
- questions are answered naturally according to their stage of development
- information and values go hand-in-hand
Give enough information to satisfy their curiosity. If they want to know more they will ask further questions.
Some children don’t ask or will reject a parent’s attempts to talk about these issues due to embarrassment or anxiety. Let your child know that feelings of embarrassment are natural and okay; that as a parent you do need to make sure they understand certain things; make information available that they can read/watch at their own pace; find other ways to convey information for example – ask an older sibling to assist if that is appropriate; give your child a notebook that he/she can write questions in and leave for you to write your reply.
If children ask at inappropriate times, or if you don’t know the answer, tell them you will get back to them on it – and always do so! Look up information in a book together, or watch a dvd.
Take the lead
Your children and adolescents need to hear what your values about sex and relationships are.
This does not mean they will agree with you on all things! But bouncing their own opinions off a solid adult “wall” helps them refine their own developing value system.
Open up the line of communication early, before the issues get trickier, and before adolescent reticence sets in.
Censor inappropriate media content for young children and teens. Look for opportunities to discuss lyrics, tv shows, social media, fashions, etc as they become older.
Check out what they are reading, viewing on the net, discussing in class, listening to on the ipod.
“Young people with a strong sense of connectedness to family, school, church and community are more likely to postpone sexual involvement”
Helpful Resources from Open Doors
Conversations With Your Child dvd for parents.
Ideas and encouragement for talking to your children and young teens about babies and birth, puberty, teen issues.
Resilient Kids – interactive CD ROM for primary and secondary ages
Teaching the skills of bouncing back from disappointment and preventing depression.
Counselling and Support Services for crisis pregnancy and pregnancy loss (including post abortion loss); grief and loss, peri natal depression and anxiety, pregnancy support, couples and relationships.
Educational Services for schools – resources, programs, presentations.
Further reading –