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Talking To Your Middle Schooler about Relationships and Sex

How to Speak to Your Middle Schooler about Relationships and Sex

As parents, we want our children to feel comfortable approaching us with topics relating to sex. Here's how you can effectively educate your adolescent on relationships and sex.

When Should We Talk?

These days, children are overwhelmed with sexually explicit content from television, the Internet and peers. That's why it's so important to address the topic earlier rather than later.

By the time they enter middle school, most children have already - or soon will - reach sexual maturity. In turn, they will develop natural curiosity about their bodies and those of others. Hopefully, by this time you've already talked to your child about certain aspects of sex. If not, it's never too late to start. The following tips can help you educate and guide your children to give them a healthy perspective on their growing interest in sex.

Don't beat around the bush. Middle schoolers should know the basics of sexual intercourse. At the same time, they also need to understand how to manage and negotiate sexual feelings. It's not easy for adolescents to control sexual urges. That's why it's important to educate your child before he or she is pressured to act upon them. In addition to explaining the physical and emotional aspects of sex, you should also explain the many other ways of expressing sexual behavior, such as holding, kissing and touching private body parts over and under clothing. This may seem uncomfortable at first; however, it can help your child make wiser decisions years down the road.

Address the impact of peer pressure. As children become teenagers, they start having interest in dating and physical contact with a partner. By the time they enter 10th grade, about half of adolescents will have had sexual intercourse. In the preceding years, teens face pressure from peers who may already be sexually active. If they haven't had sex, children may feel embarrassed or left out. Address this inevitability with your child by reminding him or her that there's no need to rush. Explain the reasons why many teens decide to wait on sex until they are older. You can also try to create strategies to help the child avoid social embarrassment by coming up with effective things to say when they face pressure from peers.

Be realistic. These days, children are more likely to engage in sex at younger ages. In response, many parents go out of their ways to discourage promiscuity, using scare tactics centered on STDs, religion and social reputation. Some parents also retreat into states of denial, where they do not acknowledge their children's sexual desires and refuse to discuss them openly. Even if you are against the idea of your child having sex, you need to accept the reality that it may happen.

Although it might be a tough pill to swallow, you can help protect your child's future and health by providing him or her with contraceptives. Research suggests that young girls are much less likely to get pregnant or have an abortion when they have access to birth control. There's also no evidence that having contraceptives makes teens more prone to promiscuity.

Don't be judgmental. According to surveys, about half of all teens feel nervous talking to their parents about sex . While much of this is due to uncomfortable subject matter, it also has a lot to do with the fear of being judged. You may know what to say to your child before he or she has sex; but, do you know how you would respond if you found out he or she already had?

Judgmental attitudes don't just make children feel bad; they also cause the children to become secretive about their actions. Studies also suggest that many children opt against birth control, because they worry about being judged by their parents . Understand that everyone makes a mistake or two, especially when they are young. Try to maintain a supportive, empathetic attitude and take steps to make sure your child won't endure lifelong consequences for a one-time error in judgment.

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