One of my earliest conversations about sex went like this –
Me (9 years old): “Colleen, what’s oral sex??”
My sister (14 years old): **With her jaw dropped to the floor** “Oh my God, please go ask mom.”
It was probably not my best choice to ask her when she had a friend over. Their laughs left me embarrassed and my question unanswered. Finally, a night rolled around where I found myself alone in the living room with my mom. I worked up the courage to ask her, and received the following:
“Well, what does oral mean?”
She followed her question by saying “and you know what sex is.”
Those puzzle pieces were enough for me. Answer: received.
Are you comfortable talking with your parents?
Recently, my mom told me about a conversation she and my dad had before they had children. He had decided that if they were to have girls, my mom would be in charge of our reproductive healthcare. After all, the last thing he wanted to know was about his daughter’s sex life. And what happened? They went on to have all girls. He handled it like a pro, and yes, my mom did take care of “the girl stuff.”
I will be the first to admit – I am SO lucky to have parents who work in the health field. Both are registered nurses. My dad works as a professor in the nursing department at our local college. My mom worked in the nursing field for over 30 years before she retired. Having nurses for parents means a few things: you talk about bodily functions VERY often, you have to be throwing up or running a fever in order to miss a school day, and you will not see the inside of an emergency room unless a body part is detached. Their careers were an amazing opportunity for my sisters and me. We grew up knowing that our bodies were our own, and that if something was wrong it was their job as parents, and as nurses, to help us.
Due to their careers, I felt comfortable talking to my mom at a young age about questions and concerns I had in regard to my body. As I grew up and entered into the world of being a teenager and dating, I found that talks with my mom started to occur more frequently. Even though she was incredibly understanding, I will admit, it is SO awkward to talk to parents/adults about sex. In this blog, I will be sharing my first-hand tips and tricks to comfortably talk about sex.
Get that conversation going with your parents.
Plan Ahead –
It can be helpful to think about this conversation beforehand. In the moment, you are going to feel awkward and unsure. Write down your questions/conversation points before. Not only will this help guide the flow of the conversation, but it will also show your parents/trusted adult that you are taking this conversation seriously.
Do your research on the topic you want to discuss. For example, if you’re interested in birth control or preventing STIs, have some information ready. (Information on the method of birth control you’re interested in, what STIs you want to talk about, etc.) Your parents will see you’re taking your health seriously and be impressed.
Another good idea is to give them a heads-up on the conversation. Let them know you’d like to talk, tell them that it is about something important. That way you don’t catch them at a bad time, they will be prepared to give you their undivided attention.
Talk with Tech –
If you’re more comfortable asking questions over a text message, a chat, or email – go for it. It can be easier to write down questions rather than asking them out loud. We’re growing up in the generation where technology is constantly accessible. Facebook messenger has held numerous conversations between my mom and me. Have these conversations occurred when I’m in my bedroom and she’s in the living room? Definitely. Sometimes you need to do what’s easiest.
The most important thing is that you have the chance to talk – no matter the method.
Brace Yourself –
Be ready for a game of “21 Questions.” You have opened a whole new world of conversation topics. They will likely want to know what you have already heard and who you are talking to.
To ease the situation, let them know why you are asking. This will stop them from making any assumptions.
You have had the opportunity to prepare and think about this conversation. You might have even practiced your parts. However, this could be the first time your trusted adult has heard this information or had this conversation. Older siblings, I’m sorry but you’ve drawn the short end of the stick. Your parents REALLY haven’t had a chance to have this conversation before. Questions will be asked.
Be Direct –
If there is a specific topic you want to know more about – birth control, STIs, LGBTQ+ health – let them know. The only way you will receive a direct answer is if you ask a direct question.
** If your parent doesn’t know the answer – give them a chance. It can be difficult for adults to say they do not know the answer to a question, especially when they know you have gone out of your way to ask. Please, continue to give them a chance to be a part of the process. Ask if they would want to find out with you. Go to the Internet together and find a reliable source for your answer. This will not only increase your knowledge, but also theirs. **
Practice Patience –
I know how frustrating it can be when you don’t see eye to eye with your parents. Remember: you have brought up a topic you’ve never discussed before. They may need time to process. Although you may be upset, try to be patient and avoid getting angry with their answers – or lack of answers.
Also, the subject of the conversation will have a direct effect on the reaction. If you were to tell them that you are having sex – or considering it – they could have a big reaction. Try not to get defensive – I know, easier said than done. Realize they may not be ready to accept that you’re ready to have sex. They do love you. SO MUCH. Their care and concern can cloud judgment. Be patient and try to revisit the conversation. Take on an adult role, it’s tough, but it’s an important conversation to have. In the long run, the wait is worth it.
Stop on a Good Note –
This is not a one and done conversation. Turn this into an open dialogue. Let your trusted adult know that in the future you will ask questions when you have them. Do the same for them. Let them know that if they have any questions for you, you’re ready to talk and listen.
THANK THEM. As difficult as this conversation was for you. It was equally, if not more, difficult for your parents/family member. If they took the time to listen and learn, let them know that you appreciate it.
(Photos from Adobe Stock.)