Our parents are often the natural choice to turn to when we have big life questions. As we get older, these questions may become a tad more intimate, but knowing our parents have our backs on the difficult stuff can help us navigate the crazy complexities of human intimacies.
Sex is a perfectly normal and natural part of life. Chances are your parents have already been through most of what you’re experiencing. They can be priceless sources of information and, more importantly, support. That said, broaching the subject can be kind of awkward.
Embrace the awkward
Chatting to your parents about sex can feel embarrassing but no one ever died of awkward. A conversation may feel uncomfortable when it starts, but if you remind yourself that you’re going to be okay, you may find that it becomes a little easier as you get going.
Remember that your parents might be feeling a little nervous about broaching the subject too. Saying “I feel a little awkward talking about this” has a way of making it not so uncomfortable.
What if they start the conversation? If you don’t feel ready to discuss it with them because you’ve been taken by surprise and don’t know how much you’re willing to share, try saying something like, “I know you’re concerned and want to talk about this now, but I’d like to have some time to think about it before we dive in. Could we talk about it tomorrow?” Prepare your thoughts and sit down with them the next day. Avoiding the conversation will probably make it more awkward.
‘My parents don’t get it’
Some parents are very open to all sexual discussions whereas others are more reserved, maybe due to religion, culture, embarrassment, or just the way they are.
Most parents would prefer to be included anyway, even if they’re uncomfortable with the topic. Perhaps lead with a more low-key question or issue around dating and see how they respond, before heading into a detailed discussion about sex.
It’s important to remember that your parents want what is best for you. By including them in this area of your life they can also be assured that you’re being sexually safe and responsible.
Where else can I turn?
If you can’t talk to your parents about sex, then consider others in your family, friends, school or an adult you trust: someone who seems reasonable, and is able to communicate well.
If that’s not an option for you, you can always talk to a doctor, nurse, or social worker at a sexual health clinic. They will be able to guide you about relationships and safe sex.
Why do I need to talk about it?
Knowledge is power! The more you know about sex the easier it will be to decide when you are ready to have this kind of relationship. It’s also important to be educated about safe sex – what this actually means and how to practice it.
Talking is a way of having a sounding board if you’re unsure whether something feels safe, or is in line with your values. Talking about your values, hopes, fears, and expectations is a really effective way of working out what they actually are and who you are.
Also, talking about sex is a great way to dispel the kind of embarrassing belief that no one else thinks about sex like you do, and talks like this make it all kind of normal.