Talking about relationships and sex can be awkward, especially with your parents – but talking with parents (or an older sibling or a trusted adult) can also be helpful as they know and care about you. Young people who discuss sexual topics with someone close to them, say they feel more comfortable accessing contraceptives and using protection when they become sexually active.
Parents had to make their own sexual choices at some point in their lives too. This means they might have good information and advice about relationships and sex and can support you in the decisions that you make. You might actually be surprised at how much your parents know about sexual health issues!
Starting the conversation
Your parents may react in different ways: they could be surprised, embarrassed, supportive, ready to give advice, relieved that you have started the conversation, or concerned and/or angry – jumping to assumptions about you or your friends.
Usually the conversation goes better than you expected. Whatever their reaction, it is important for you to stay calm and be patient. If they are shocked by what you have to say, let their initial response pass, as most parents will come around. Remember, it can be hard for them to get used to the fact that you’re growing up.
When you’re ready:
- Pick a time that is not busy, and a place that is private and comfortable where you are unlikely to get interrupted – like your bedroom or in the car.
- Be respectful of your parent’s views, and accept that you may not agree with all of them.
- Be honest and direct when asking your questions – this is the best way to get the answers you are looking for.
- Listen, and allow your parents time to answer your questions; they might have some really great advice.
- Try to have on-going chats with your parents about sex and sexual health, rather than a big one-off conversation. It will get easier each time.
- Remember to thank your parents for their advice; show them that you value what they have to say.
Sometimes it is easier not to immediately relate the conversation to yourself. For example, you could try bringing the topic up by using a TV show, or something a teacher said in your PDHPE class at school, to lead into the conversation. You can ask your parents what their opinion is of what you heard, and then ask further questions from there. It may take a couple of conversations like this before you are ready to talk more specifically about yourself and how you feel.
Unfortunately, some parents do find it difficult or even impossible to get over their discomfort with talking about sex. If you’re very concerned about your parents’ reaction, you might choose to put off this conversation until you feel you and your parents are more ready. Or maybe your parents aren’t around. In these cases, you could turn to another trusted adult.
Who else can I talk to?
- Family Planning NSW Talkline 1300 658 886
- Kids helpline 1800 55 1800
- Staff at your local Family Planning NSW clinic
- Trusted adults, such as older siblings, teachers, relatives, and family friends may be willing to talk with you