How To Have “The Talk” With Your Kids

How do I talk with my teen?

These tips can help you talk to your teen about preventing STDs:

Talk with your teen about how to prevent STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), even if you don’t think your teen is sexually active.

If talking about sex and STDs with your teen makes you nervous, you aren’t alone. It can be hard to know where to start. But it’s important to make sure your teen knows how to stay safe.

  • Think about what you want to say ahead of time.
  • Be honest about how you feel.
  • Try not to give your teen too much information at once.
  • Use examples to start a conversation.
  • Talk while you are doing something together.
  • Get ideas from other parents.

You can also ask your teen’s doctor to talk with your teen about preventing STIs. This is called STI prevention counseling.

STI Facts

Why do I need to talk with my teen?

All teens need accurate information about how to prevent STIs. Teens whose parents talk with them about sex and how to prevent STIs are not more likely to have sex. But they will be more likely to make healthy choices about sex when they’re older.

In fact, teens say that their parents have a bigger influence on their decisions about sex than the media, their siblings, or their friends.

Find out more about why it’s important to talk to your kids about sex.

Young people are more likely to get STIs.

About half of all STI cases in the United States happen in young people ages 15 to 24.

Teens are at a higher risk than adults of getting STIs for a number of reasons. For example, they may:

  • Not know they need tests to check for STDs
  • Not use condoms correctly every time they have sex
  • Have sexual contact with multiple partners during the same period of time

Prevention

What do I tell my teen about preventing STDs?

Talk to your teen about what STIs are and how to prevent them.

It’s important to learn about STIs and how they spread.

Knowing the facts helps teens protect themselves. Learn more about signs, symptoms, and how they spread here.

Condoms can help prevent STIs.

Make sure your teen knows how to use condoms, even if you don’t think he is sexually active. Offer to help get condoms if your teen doesn’t know where to go.

It’s important for teens to talk with their partners about STIs before having sex.

Encourage your teen to talk with her partner about STI prevention before having sex. Say that you understand it may not be easy, but it’s important for your teen to speak up.

Testing

Your teen may need to get tested for STIs.

Ask your teen to talk honestly with the doctor or nurse about any sexual activity. That way, the doctor can decide which tests your teen may need. Sexually active teens may need to be tested for:

  • Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • HIV

It’s important to help your teen develop a trusting relationship with the doctor or nurse. Step out of the room to give your teen a chance to ask about STD testing and prevention in private.

This is an important step in teaching teens to play an active role in their health care.

Keep in mind that your teen can get tested for STIs at the doctor – or go to a clinic. Find an STI clinic near you.

LGBTQIA+ Teens

Does my LGBT teen need information about preventing STIs?

Yes. All teens – including LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) teens – need accurate information about STIs. Remember, STIs can spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex and skin-to-skin sexual contact.

LGBT teens may also be at higher risk for STIs than straight teens, so it’s important to talk to your teen about STI prevention. 

Start Talking

Be honest about how you feel.

Talking with your teen about how to prevent STIs may not be easy for you. It’s normal for both of you to feel uncomfortable – and it’s okay to be honest with your teen about how you feel.

Remember, when you are honest with your teen, they’re more likely to be honest with you. And keep in mind that your teen may ask a question you can’t answer. Tell him you aren’t sure – then look up the answer together!

Try not to give your teen too much information at once.

Remember, you have plenty of time to talk about preventing STDs. You don’t need to fit everything into one conversation – it’s actually better if you don’t. Give your teen time to think – they may come back later and ask questions.

Make this the first conversation of many about preventing STIs.

Conversation Tips

Listen and ask questions.
Show your teen that you are paying attention and trying to understand his thoughts and feelings.

Try these tips:

  • Repeat back what your teen says in your own words. For example, “So you don’t think you are at risk for getting an STD?”
  • Ask questions to help guide the conversation. For example, “Have you talked in school about how to prevent STDs?”
  • Ask questions that check for your teen’s understanding. For example, “What did you learn about how STDs are spread?”
  • Talk about something that happened in a movie or TV show.For example, “It looks like they had sex without using a condom. What do you think about that?”

Get ideas from other parents.

Remember that you aren’t the only person thinking about how to talk to a teen about preventing STDs. Ask other parents what they have done. You may be able to get helpful tips and ideas.

Prevention Counseling

Ask your teen’s doctor about STD prevention counseling.

Counseling to prevent STDs is recommended for all teens who are sexually active. That means it’s part of a doctor’s job to help teens learn how to prevent STDs. The doctor may:

  • Give your teen information about preventing STDs
  • Refer your teen to a health educator or counselor for STD prevention counseling

STD prevention counseling includes:

  • Giving your teen basic information about STDs and how they spread
  • Figuring out your teen’s risk of getting or spreading an STD
  • Teaching your teen important skills – like how to use condoms, how to talk with a partner about STDs, and how to get tested for STDs