How to Talk to Your Teen Son About Sex
For boys, keep it short, to the point, and specific when it comes to sex information.
When my brother-in-law's dad took him to college in 1962, he asked his son,
"You know about girls, right?" Paul Soglin answered, "Yes." His
father said, "Good," gave him a hug, and drove off. That brief
conversation at 17 was the long and the short of the sex talk Soglin, today a
62-year-old management consultant in Madison, Wis., got from his parents.
Nowadays, experts advise there is no one "big" (or, as in Soglin's
case, small) sex talk. Teaching teens about their bodies and
sexuality is best when it's an ongoing dialogue, starting in childhood.
Specifically for parents of teen boys, an effective strategy is to
"bottom line" their communications and then go on to talk about their
values, advise Amy Miron, MS, and Charles Miron, PhD, authors of How to Talk
With Teens About Love, Relationships, and S-E-X. That's because boys are
more likely to be comfortable and pay attention when their parents keep the
message simple and direct. "Many men are action-oriented in terms of verbal
communication, and it often works best to cut to the chase," says Charles.
Adds Amy: "You can say, 'Use a latex condom properly every time,'
and then fill in the details with discussions of values, respect, and
Teach Your Teen Boy to Wait for Sex
Also important for boys to hear is something about social attitudes toward
sex, especially since the double standard, while perhaps somewhat watered down
from Soglin's day, still persists. "Men are supposed to be the hunters and
go after anything and not care. They 'score,'" says Charles, so some
parents may be tempted to give their boys a wink and a nod while telling their
girls to wait to be sexually active.
But boys, like girls, need to be pulled back and given a reality check. They
need to hear what their parents think about love and intimacy and be given a
chance to talk about their own ideas.
Talk to Your Teen Boy About Sexual Values
Parents should also talk to their sons about how the sexual activity they
may be involved in -- be it oral sex, intercourse, or kissing -- might mean
something very different to the girl they're with. And because many teens have
been exposed to pornography, it's important to reinforce that what they see --
sex for sex's sake -- is usually different from reality.
Be sure to ask your son his own thoughts and feelings about relationships
and sex. But remember to also articulate your own values: "I'd like you to
wait until you're in love or you're engaged or you're married" or whatever
your values are. Let your son know that everyone has to explore his sexuality,
it's normal, and you love him no matter what.
"The biggest thing -- and this is the same message we give boys and
girls -- is that the first time you're sexually active you're going to remember
until the day you die," says Charles Miron. "In other words, you're
writing your own personal history, and you want to make sure you're going to
read it and feel proud of it."