Have you had The Talk with your teen yet?
I hope so! I sincerely hope that you haven’t waited until puberty to broach the subject.
Because it’s tricky, even with a well-prepared child. A three-year-old can happily chatter about private parts; a 13-year-old, who may have been having some seriously heated daydreams about those very parts, will be a little less... forthcoming.
I’ll assume that by the time your child is 11 or 12, they know the names of their parts and the basic mechanics of sex. This is not really The Talk, you know. Those are just preliminary details that must be communicated before you can have The [REAL] Talk.
The Real Talk, where you address the fact that your child will at some point choose to have sex. They will, you know. The average age for first intercourse is 16.9 years in the US, and 17 in Canada, where I live.
You may prefer that your child wait till they are much older. You may believe that sex is best saved for marriage. As a responsible parent, you will convey these values to your child. But this doesn’t mean you don’t discuss how to stay safe and healthy, because no matter when your child makes the decision to have sex - 15 or 35 - they will need that information.
Which is why, when my kids were 14-ish, I pulled them aside and had A Talk with them. By then they knew the how-to’s of sex, and that sex is a beautiful thing when shared between respectful, loving, committed people. They also knew that I thought they were too young yet. We’d talked about all that, in many little conversations over the years.
They also knew that, whatever my opinion, this was a decision they would make for themselves.
You know what? As a mother, I don’t much like that. This is Real Life, with Big Consequences! I’d like to be able to protect them from a foolish decision made too young. But I give them the information anyway. By withholding it I ensure they have inadequate facts and guidance. Do I want my child making this decision with half the facts? I do not.
A teen who knows this is their decision and no one else’s is also less likely to be pressured into it before they’re ready.
So, when each was getting interested, but before they’d acted on it (I hoped!!), when they were not dating anyone, I would show them the little blue cosmetic bag on the shelf outside the bathroom.
The little blue bag with the condoms in it. I showed them, told them it would always be kept full, and they’d never be counted.
Not because I wanted them to skip right out, grab the likeliest partner and try one. Not because I expected them to need it in the immediate future. But because they were old enough to be thinking about it - and I wanted safety, self-respect and good health to feature in those thoughts.