Almost half of high school students have had sex, according to a 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Having sex puts teens at risk for unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV. Discussing sex with your teen and staying actively involved in his life can help you encourage your teenager to wait.
Maintain an Open Dialogue
Talking to teens honestly, openly and frequently about sex helps them understand your beliefs and learn accurate information. Instead of covering these issues in one talk, discuss sex and relationships regularly and encourage your teen to ask questions and share her own beliefs or concerns. Don't just focus on the dangers of sex; discuss other aspects teens might be thinking about, such as whether sex will make them feel closer to a boyfriend or girlfriend or how to turn down pressure to have sex. Discussing sex doesn't encourage teens to become sexually active, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
Stay involved in your teen's life. Set curfews and rules for your children and enforce them. Know your children's friends, and arrange to meet their parents, if possible. Pay attention to the movies, video games and other media your teens are consuming, and encourage teens to think critically about how sex and relationships are portrayed in the media. Finally, discourage young teens from dating seriously. Teens in serious, exclusive relationships are more likely to have sex, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Making education a family priority can help discourage teenagers from risky behavior such as sex. Keep track of your teenager's grades, assignments and classes and stay in touch with her teachers and counselors. Help her set goals and encourage her to participate in extracurricular activities such as sports or community service. If your teen works, ensure she has enough time for homework and academic commitments.
Build Strong Relationships
Teenagers are more likely to listen to your advice if you have a strong relationship with them. Although it's best to be supportive and affectionate from a young age, it's never too late to build a relationship with teens, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Praise your teen's accomplishments and avoid teasing them or comparing them to their siblings. Attend their sporting events or other extracurricular activities, learn about their hobbies and eat dinner together as a family. Creating a relationship of love, trust and respect prepares teens to make responsible and informed choices about their sexual health.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Sexual Risk Behavior: HIV, STD, & Teen Pregnancy Prevention
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Tips for Parents
- The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy: Ten Tips for Parents
- Child Trends: Parents Matter: The Role of Parents in Teens’ Decisions About Sex
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