Parents are the best sex educators
By Kidspot Team |
In this highly digital age, it’s never been so easy for kids to access information about sex – yet it seems kids still look to their mums and dads for guidance first and foremost.
In fact, say many experts in the area of adolescent health, it’s this hyper-availability of information on sex – not all of it good, healthy or factual – that makes the role parents play so important, and it’s not just about what parents say.
What parents can do
- Understand your own feelings about sex. Your emotions can affect how you talk about things.
- If you have a partner, talk together about how you’ll approach things to make sure you’re on the same page.
- Think about the values and messages you want to pass on.
- Know what you think about topics such as masturbation, homosexuality, rape, contraception, abortion and sex outside a relationship.
- Learn about the sexual issues young people face today by watching what they watch on TV, reading books, magazines or searching the internet. Talk with other parents to get helpful tips about how to discuss things.
- Young people get embarrassed very easily. If your child doesn’t want to talk to you let him or her know where else they can source information.
- Don’t just focus on the ‘act’, but also highlight the importance of feelings, being caring and respecting others as well as themselves.
- Teach sexual responsibility – this includes the ‘safe sex’ message as well as self-protection behaviours.
And don’t leave the conversation too late, says Family Planning NSW’s Senior Health Promotion Officer Rob Hardy.
“Starting a conversation early with children develops a foundation for ongoing discussions throughout the child’s development and prepares them for independence in adult life,” he says.
“Parents can take advantage of these ‘teachable moments’ that pop up in every day life (in TV shows or the news) and provide the opportunity to talk about a range of sexuality issues.”
Proof of parental influence
A Canadian study involving more than 1100 families found that 45 percent of teenagers consider their parents to be their sexuality role model.
The findings have shattered the long accepted stereotype that when it comes to sex, kids are mostly influenced by their peers and celebrities; less than one-third were influenced by their friends and only 15 percent were inspired by celebrities.
The landmark survey also revealed that most of the teenagers who looked to their parents lived in families where sexuality was openly discussed, and that these kids had a greater awareness of the risks and consequences of STIs, linking good communication between parents and kids with more responsible sexual behaviours.
Other studies have found that children who are well informed and comfortable in talking about sexuality with their parents are the least likely to have intercourse when they are young adolescents.
- This article was written for Kidspot and is based on an article originally posted by Fiona Baker on parenting.kidspot.com.au
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