How to talk to your family about sex

Tuesday, January 4, 2005
A young man and woman
Ways to approach your parent/carer
If you have an open and honest relationship with your parents or carers, you are lucky. If possible, it is a good idea to talk to them first – they have been through it all before!

Sometimes, however, parents/carers aren't comfortable talking about sex, or puberty because they are too embarrassed; or they don't know how to bring up the subject; or they think they don't know enough to answer all your questions; and so on. So sometimes it is up to you to bring up the topic and ask away! If your parent/carer/s don’t know the answer, you could suggest that you find out together.

Sometimes it is really hard to ask a question without your parent/carer thinking that you are having sex already or even thinking about it – when all you really want is some information or to get some things straight. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions around and it is difficult to get a straight answer. You could approach your parent/carer and say "I heard someone at recess/morning play say……. What do you think?"

If you are unable to approach your parents/carers, you should find someone whom you trust to answer your questions.

Some tips for initiating communication about sex with your child or parent

  • Leave books or leaflets around the house
  • Watch and discuss TV or video programs together
  • Visit the zoo or other places where people can observe animals. Watching animals is a good way to start discussing topics such as why babies feed from nipples, or why female animals' bellies get rounder when they are pregnant.
  • Casually discuss magazine or newspaper stories
  • Visit libraries together as a way to find out what your child is interested in
  • Check out your local museum or community centres
  • Discuss the pregnancy of a friend or neighbour

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