Mom and Dad, it’s hard to talk about — well, you know — that.
Just try to be casual about it and see how the S-E-X conversation goes over with your kid. Chances are, your beloved offspring will inwardly cringe and beg to end the discussion.
But if you don’t talk about it, you know who will monopolize the message? Miley Cyrus. And what parent wants that?
So, just in time to rescue everyone from getting educated by the twerking, tongue-thrusting former teen pop stars of the world comes new “Let’s Talk” mobile apps and videos offered by Planned Parenthood. The free digital tools are intended to make it easier for both parents and teens to bring up life’s most interesting subject.
Parents can watch a sample conversation tailored for children in their early or late teens, as well as for teens who are already sexually active.
The message? It’s OK to talk about sex. And parents can give you the best advice and guidance. And that’s even though parents and kids have a tough time asking each other questions about it.
Tyrone Potts Jr., male services manager for Planned Parenthood of Southern New Jersey Inc., knows how hard that can be.
At a recent parent-teen educational event, he asked parents to sit on one side of the room and their kids on the other. Then he turned out the lights and asked everyone to write down an anonymous question relating to sexual health they had been burning to ask but weren’t sure how.
The questions were illuminating. Are you having sex? Is everyone else having sex?
“Everyone enjoyed it and parents walked away with good information,” said Potts. There was so much dialogue back and forth that he plans to host a second installment.
But if you don’t have the advantage of getting Potts to lead “the talk,” try bringing it up casually when you and your teen watch something together on television.
Talk about sex as it relates to a provocative music video, song lyric or news story. Ask your child, “What do you think about that?”
Or use the digital tools to launch your discussion, suggests Planned Parenthood’s director of education, Luis Valentino Al Rio Dey.
Apps for younger teens offer quizzes on subjects like whether parents are ready to talk about dating and sex, how a teen can handle pressures at a party and how to plan for the future. Older teens can use apps to figure out which birth control method is best, or take a relationship quiz.
Videos for parents offer scenarios on how to talk with their kids, including teens who are gay, lesbian, transgender or questioning. There are resources, too, for parents explaining puberty changes and how to help kids delay becoming sexually active.
Be sure to help teens understand the possible outcomes of sexual activity, including pregnancy, disease and unhealthy relationships. Share your personal beliefs and values about sex and when you think it’s OK to become sexually active.
Ask about their goals in life and what they want to achieve. Talk about how an unexpected pregnancy can affect those goals.
Believe it or not, says Al Rio Dey, teens name parents as their biggest influence on their decisions about sex.
Even bigger than Miley.