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Teens want their parents to talk to them about love, healthy relationships, and sex.

Having these talks with the youth in your life can help them be prepared to make healthy choices and plan their entire future, but 50% of Tulsans think local parents and guardians are uncomfortable talking to teens about sex (2019 Public Perception Polling, Amplify + Strategies 360).

Inform your child if they are not comfortable talking with you, you can help them find another trusted adult to talk to. Additionally, you might consider skipping the intimidating face-to-face conversation; teens will open up more to their parents if it’s a relaxed, casual conversation.

  • Know where your child is receiving their information
  • Know what health messages your teen is learning and if they are medically accurate and factual
  • Research for yourself what you think they wants to know so you can be prepared to answer their questions 
  • It’s never too early to start having these conversations
  • Have age-appropriate conversations about the developing human body early in life and continue through different life experiences
  • As they grow older, inform them about safe sex practices to prevent unplanned pregnancy and STIs.
  • Have open communication with the young people in your life. Let them know they can come to you with any problems they are facing, whether it’s about their relationships, sexual health, or their sexual preferences 
  • Do not be judgmental when they are being honest with you about themselves, you want them to trust you and come to you with any problems they are facing
  • It’s okay if you don’t know all the answers yet. You both can research to find out the correct information 
  • Respect young people’s views and beliefs by listening. Share your own throughout these conversations.
  • Reassure young people there is no bad question and you are glad they came to you to talk.
  • Initiate the discussion – Finding the right time and place is essential—without phones, siblings, or other distractions. Talking while walking the dog, cooking, or riding in the car can feel less threatening.
  • Find and use teachable moments – Look out for TV shows, movies, podcasts, songs, or news articles that can springboard conversations about consent, healthy relationships, decision-making, and sex. Use the music of the moment by asking your child an open-ended question like: “What do you already know about…?”; “What have you heard about…?”; “What do you think about…?”; “What do your friends think about…?”
  • Empathize with your young person – It feels uncomfortable to talk about sex—for parents/ guardians and teens. Being honest about your feelings and using empathy creates a safe and supportive environment that opens the door for these critical discussions.
  • Listen without judgement – It is important to feel heard and not judged. Parents/guardians want to protect their teens, and teens want independence. This can cause conflict, but you are more likely to understand each other when you ask open-ended questions and listen. If your teen senses they will be teased, punished, or silenced for having questions, they may be less likely to come to you with questions or concerns in the future.
  • Plan ahead – Discussing risky situations before they happen allows the opportunity to talk about motivations for risk reduction or avoidance and think through ways to stay safe. Teens are more likely to make healthy decisions when weighing risks, pros, and cons beforehand.
  • Answer what’s asked, not what you think is asked – For instance, if your child asks if birth control is dangerous, ask what they have heard or already know to get more information about what they are asking. Please don’t assume they are asking because they want to use birth control.
  • If you sense there’s a question behind the question… – Go ahead and carefully try to give your emotional support. Don’t close the door – there’s usually a reason why the real question wasn’t asked directly, and your child may ask later if you indicate your openness.
  • Recognize what you don’t know – It is okay not to have all the answers. If your child asks a question that you don’t know the answer to, you can say, “I hear your question, and I don’t know if I have the answers right now. Let me try to find the best answer for you.” Amaze.org is a fantastic online resource for questions about sexual health. 
  • Be the louder and more influential voice – Please talk with your child about what media & social media portray and what you think about it. Please encourage your children to think critically about the streaming, music, and social media they see and how to set their own limits.
  • It’s okay to try again – No one always gets things right the first time. If you think you missed the mark or didn’t get across what you wanted to when talking about relationships or sexual health, it’s okay to let your child know and try again. Imperfect conversations are better than no conversations.
  • Leave the door open for future discussion – This isn’t just one talk! The goal is to have lots of small conversations over time, and every conversation is an opportunity. Let your child know you are a trusted support to them, no matter what their question or concern may be.
  • Don’t panic! – When young kids ask questions about sexual health, bodies, or relationships, it is common to feel uncomfortable or to attempt to avoid the subject. How we react to questions from a child can influence whether they continue to come to us in the future. When they bring questions to you, they signal that they trust you. Avoid panicking so that you can respond intentionally. 
  • Initiate the discussion – Finding the right time and place is essential—without phones, siblings, or other distractions. Talking while walking the dog, cooking, or riding in the car can feel less threatening. Think about what you want to share with your child beforehand. You can practice the words you want to use before you bring up a particular subject or situation.
  • Find and use teachable moments – Look out for TV shows, movies, podcasts, songs, or news articles that can springboard conversations about consent, healthy relationships, decision-making, and sex. Use the music of the moment by asking your child an open-ended question like: “What do you already know about…?”; “What have you heard about…?”; “What do you think about…?”; “What do your friends think about…?”
  • Get curious (not investigative) – Now that you’ve established with your child that you appreciate their questions/thoughts, you can send curiosity back by asking questions like “What have you heard about…?” or “What do you think it means when…” This can give you a few moments to gather your thoughts and learn more about the context of their question or statement. Avoid accusatory or investigative questions that can cause a child to feel like they are being punished, attacked, or shamed. Steering away from questions that begin with “Why…” is one way to minimize this.
  • Plan ahead – Discussing risky or unsafe situations before they happen allows the opportunity to talk about motivations for risk reduction or avoidance and think through ways to stay safe. Talk with your child in advance about issues they may encounter, such as bullying, peer pressure, and internet safety. Make sure your child knows who to go to at home and at school if they ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe. You can help you child practice the words they might use if they need to seek your help or help from another trusted adult.
  • Answer their questions – Keep some considerations in mind, such as their age, unique personality, and the setting you’re in at the time. The information you give a six-year-old will be different from what you give a twelve-year-old. Some kids love the detail and long talks, while others lose interest quickly. Your response can be anything from simple to scientific to anecdotal. You can choose your own adventure in the way you wish to connect and support your child’s curiosity.
  • Keep it simple – As adults, we sometimes overcomplicate answers to our child’s questions. Provide as much information as is needed to answer the question, but remember to keep it simple.
  • Recognize what you don’t know – It is okay not to have all the answers. If your child asks a question that you don’t know the answer to, you can say, “I hear your question, and I don’t know if I have the answers right now. Let me try to find the best answer for you.” Amaze.org and Amaze Junior are fantastic online resources for questions about sexual health. 
  • Be the louder and more influential voice – Talk with your child about what media & social media portray and what you think about it. Encourage your children to think critically about the streaming, music, and social media they see and how to set their own limits. Reinforce who they can talk to if they need help understanding something or to talk something through.
  • It’s okay to try again – No one always gets things right the first time. If you think you missed the mark or didn’t get across what you wanted to when talking about a sensitive topic, it’s okay to let your child know and try again. Imperfect conversations are better than no conversations.
  • Leave the door open for future discussion – This isn’t just one talk! The goal is to have lots of small conversations over time, and every conversation is an opportunity. Let your child know you are a trusted support to them, no matter their questions or concerns.
  • Download our Consent and Sexual Health Conversation Starters
  • TeenSource.org
  • TalkWithYourKids.org
  • Talk With Your Kids (PDF)
  • Talking With Your Teens (PDF)
  • Amaze Junior: Little kids have big questions. Amaze Jr. brings parents age-appropriate sex-ed resources about talking to young children and fun videos to share with your children.
  • SexPositiveFamilies.com: Melissa Carnagey’s book is a bestselling comprehensive guide that helps caregivers create the kind of bond that keeps kids safer, informed and empowered in their sexual health. The book walks you through over 150 conversation starters, reflection exercises, and activities you can implement at every age and stage on topics such as bodies, feelings, safe and unsafe touch, consent, relationships, menstruation, pleasure, online porn, gender, sex and more.
  • AmplifyTulsa.org: Amplify Tulsa has a free lending library, in addition to book recommendations broken down by age range on their website. Books are a fantastic tool for talking with your child about sexual health, consent, safety, puberty, and relationships.

Amaze.org has with videos to help support your conversations with young people. Amaze jr. even has videos for young children in your life to learn about their bodies, how babies are made, and more! Check out some of their playlists below.


Our Ages and Stages guide can help you talk with young people of any age about sexual health topics and navigate child development at every stage.

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