Anna Kashner, sex educator and advocate: “All parents want their kids to be safe and healthy and many of us feel unsure about when and how we should talk to our kids about sexuality and reproduction. But here are some things to know: Teens often name their parents as the biggest influence in their decisions about sex. You don’t have to be an expert—you can learn with your child. Build your child’s trust in you by listening and answering questions honestly. Share your and your family’s values—your children will consider these when they make choices in their lives. Look for teachable moments—you can start a conversation about an unsupportive relationship you see on a show, or a current event involving consent, or someone you know who is pregnant. Share medically accurate facts about bodies and growing up with kids of all genders about all genders. Find a healthcare provider you trust and normalize conversations with them about puberty, changing bodies, and sexual health. And above all, let your child know that you love them no matter what and be clear that people deserve love and respect no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Just keep talking! Multiple small conversations over time are better than one big “Talk.” The good news is that there are many amazing age-appropriate resources that can help you start and continue the conversations starting at any age. Some of my favorites are….