When it comes to teens and safe sex, an ounce of prevention can go a long way.I know you may be uncomfortable broaching the topic of condoms and safer sex with your teens. As a mom myself, I can tell you we've all been there.
Most parents are not comfortable thinking about their teens having sex, much less talking to them about it. Also, social norms and religious beliefs make things more complicated and more emotionally charged. However, I cannot stress this enough that this may be the most important conversation you will have with your teens ... because it has the power to truly save their lives. Also Read: 3 Tips For Talking To Your Kids About Sex
As responsible and caring parents, we share our opinions on a range of topics. We monitor media, teach healthy eating, and immunize our babies. But, once our children hit the teen years, a lot of parents clam up and don't know what to do or when to do it. It makes perfect sense, as very few if any of us were ever properly educated on condoms and sexual safety ourselves. But, it is up to each of us to break this pattern and the overall health of the next generation truly depends on it.
Now, you need to realize that you cannot rely on your child's school to talk to your teen about condoms and protecting themselves. And, avoiding talking about safe sex is not going to keep your teen from having sex. So, the best gift you can give is to arm them with the best information possible.
Here are three statistics you should know:
1. Most teens think that you can visually tell if someone has a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), which is not the case.
2. One out of every four sexually active teens currently has a STI.
3. One in every two sexually active youth will contract an STI by age 25.
If you are struggling with your own comfort, my first suggestion is to make the conversation as non-personal as possible You will have an easier time talking to your teen about condoms and your teen is going to have an easier time listening if you are speaking in general terms.
Second, focus on the health aspect and impart information. If your teen isn't comfortable or ready to talk about this, save the need for dialogue for a different day. Below is an example of what I mean. Please take this concept and customize it for your own situation. I will use the name Tom, but in choosing a son, I'd like to add that this conversation is just as important for daughters, as females are often on the receiving end of guys' excuses about why they don't need condoms. I also recommend making notes, or at least have bullet points, so you are sure to cover all of the points you want to make.
Tom, I read something really surprising today and I want to share the information with you. I'd just like you to hear me out. I am open to answering your questions if you have any, but mostly, I'd just like you to hear what I have to say. I am sure that you have heard it is important to use a condom. Also Read: 9 Things I Wish I Had Learned In Sex Ed
Then you would discuss the statistics I provided. For instance:
I was really surprised to learn that most teens think that you can visually tell if someone has an STI. This is absolutely not the case. Further, one out of every four sexually active teens currently has an STI, and one in two sexually active youth will contract an STI by age 25.
When I was young, most STIs could be treated with antibiotics, this is no longer always the case. Your generation is going to have to be very aware condoms and how to properly use them more than ever before.
Now, a recent international study by the Kinsey Institute found that 80% of condom users are improperly using condoms. I didn't even know that was possible. But it is pretty important to know, because if a condom user isn't wearing a condom properly it defeats the purpose.
The study also stated that the most common errors include putting on the condom too late and taking the condom off too soon, not leaving space at the tip, and using a non-compatible lubricant. I also learned that many of the errors are related to wearing the wrong size condom. I never knew there were three different sizes of condoms; I always thought one-size-fits all. Also Read: Weird News: Sex With A Teddy Bear? You've Got To Be Kidding Us
Anyhow, if the condom feels loose or slips around or it is too big it might be more comfortable and safer to use a slimfit condom. If the condom feels too tight and restrictive it is too small perhaps it would more comfortable and safer to use a larger condom. However, 50% of men can use the standard size condom sold in most stores and passed out at most schools and clinics.
When a man is wearing the proper sized condom, there is much less chance of becoming one of the 80% in the study. Also, sex is more enjoyable and safer when wearing the proper size condom.
Now I understand this might not be the easiest conversation you have ever had, but you are providing important information that is generally not offered in high school health class.
This first talk should begin to open the dialogue between you. I would suggest circling back. You may even want to consider sending your teen an email as well before the conversation to provide an overview of the most important information you wanted to share. This may give you both a little more space to insure that the information is properly shared and received. Also Read: Talking to Your Kids About Sex: How to Have a Lifetime of Age-Appropriate Conversations with Your Children About Healthy Sexuality
Written by Lucky Bloke for YourTango.com.
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