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How to Talk with Your Kids About Sex

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This week’s episode of “Perfectly Imperfect Parents“ on The Chopra Well is all about how to talk with your kids about sex. Dr. Cara Natterson from the show shares her thoughts and tips. Number 1 piece of advice? Have more than one talk!

By Dr. Cara Natterson

Early in my career as a pediatrician, I saw a 16-year-old girl for a routine check up. Once a girl becomes a teen – and sometimes even before – I like to speak with the parent and child together, and then with each separately. It takes time, mind you, but most teenagers are not going to disclose things with a parent in the room. You would be amazed at what comes out in those precious one-on-one moments – not just about sex and drugs, but about plans to pierce their tongue or to get a tattoo.

So early in my career I was seeing a polite teenage girl who arrived at the office well groomed and dressed fairly conservatively. I spent time with the girl and her mother, reviewing her questions (Am I done growing? Do I really have to eat breakfast? I’m not hungry in the mornings…) followed by a physical exam. Finally, with her mom out of the room, I started down my own road of questions.

It took all of 30 seconds for her to disclose that she was sexually active. I emerged from the room several minutes later, after a densely packed conversation, and met her mom in my office.

“Well,” said her mother. “All I have to say is that I am so glad she is nowhere near having sex. I mean, thank goodness for that, right?!”

Medical school had not prepared me for this.

Fifteen years later, I am used to the conversation. I know how to talk to parents about their kids without violating confidence. And I know how to talk to kids about talking to their parents.

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43 comments

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9:46AM PDT on May 22, 2013

Aurolyn, that was how it was with my daughter as well, and when she decided she was ready for sex, she DID come to me about it.

10:47PM PDT on May 9, 2013

Thank you.

12:09AM PST on Mar 3, 2013

Wonderful News here and I so wish my Mother would of been able to read it. Thanks so much, I will share with friends that have children.

10:36AM PST on Mar 1, 2013

I completely agree too, i have worked for 10 years as a school nurse, and so many young people from age of 13 or 14 yrs come to me with their sexual issues. What a shame when their parents don't have the privelige of their children's trust, and thoughts and feelings... i talk with my 13 year old son very openly about sex and relationships.. Starting with basic answers to his biological questions we have built up to talking about the intricacies of relationships now - i don't push it i just answer his questions honestly, so he always knows he can keep asking. He is a sensible and thoughtful boy and i hope that in the future he will make a very good and considerate boyfriend and husband.

1:39AM PST on Mar 1, 2013

Thanks

11:34PM PST on Feb 28, 2013

i wish parents would do this more often and keep their kid/s off the sex side of the internet because it happens and it's not okay at all

10:35PM PST on Feb 28, 2013

thanks

5:53PM PST on Feb 28, 2013

be open and honest....set expectations, but don't expect perfection....allow them to know you will be there for questions, help, etc to be and stay safe.

3:38PM PST on Feb 28, 2013

I agree 100% with Aurolyn she is doing exactly as I did with my daughter .There doesn't have to be "The Talk",just answer the child's questions honestly and naturally as they grow up.When my daughter decided to become sexually active with her regular boyfriend she came to me first and asked me to go with her to the family planning clinic,which I was happy to do to help prevent an unwanted pregnancy.I was glad she trusted me enough to ask for help.

3:12AM PST on Feb 28, 2013

No matter what, family education is always the most important

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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