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    Talking to Your Kids About Sex

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    What Do I Say?

    Focus on the facts about sex. Consider using the following list of topics as a guide:

    • Explanation of anatomy and reproduction in males and females
    • Sexual intercourse and pregnancy
    • Fertility and birth control
    • Other forms of sexual behavior, including oral sex, masturbation, and petting
    • Sexual orientation, including heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality
    • The physical and emotional aspects of sex, including the differences between males and females
    • Self-image and peer pressure
    • Sexually transmitted diseases
    • Rape and date rape, including putting oneself in a high-risk situation such as being intoxicated (drunk or high), accepting rides or going to private places with strangers or acquaintances, and not traveling in groups or double dating with friends
    • How choice of clothing and the way you present yourself, including body language, sends messages to others about your interest in sexual behavior

    How Open Should I Be When We Talk?

    Some parents are uncomfortable talking to their kids about sex. It may help to practice what you are going to say before you sit down with your son or daughter. Be sure to pay attention and listen to what your child says and asks. It may be helpful to have both parents present for support.

    Some kids may be embarrassed to talk about sex or to admit they don't know something. So they may not ask direct questions. Look for opportunities to bring up sexuality issues with your children. Opportunities may come from a scene on TV or in a movie, a book or an article, or the appearance of visible changes in your son or daughter, such as the growth of breasts or facial hair. Explain the physical maturation process and the sexual arousal process. Remember to respect your child's privacy and try to show that you trust him or her to make good decisions. Give them the confidence to grow and mature.

    Teen Sexual Rights

    When talking with your teen, consider the following teen sexual rights, which were developed by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). Let your child know these rights belong to him or her and no one else has the right to take them away:

    • The right to accurate information about sexuality and HIV/AIDS
    • The right to stop being physical or sexual with a partner at any point
    • The right to say "no" to an unwanted touch of any kind
    • The right to make decisions about sexuality, in your own time
    • The right to express your sexuality safely, without risk of pregnancy or STDs, including HIV/AIDS
    • The right not to be pressured into being physical or sexual
    • The right not to express your sexuality unless you want to

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Amita Shroff, MD on February 20, 2017
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