What You Said: The Right Way to Talk To Teens About Sex

ESSENCE.com readers share how they talk about sex with their children and why it’s more important than ever to keep it real.

Charli Penn Apr, 01, 2013

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"It's about providing honest examples of your personal decision making at their age, talking ‘their language’ and not sugar coating anything. Explain that there is more to giving up your virginity than the possibility of getting pregnant. Discuss that there are diseases and their innocence, because at the end of the day, the game changes once you have sex. Tell your daughter you want her to have respect for herself as a young lady and to demand respect from the young man too." -- Rosita

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“I teach my kids first about open communication explaining to them that they can talk to me about anything. I may not agree with their choice but as a parent it is up to me that they are told and/or taught correctly.” – Shoshana

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“As a parent I have to be realistic about what my teen is facing (peer pressure, media, music and hormones!). I talk with her about abstaining and that her body is special. However, I want to ensure that she has facts. I have been (age-appropriately) honest with her from a young age. She knows that she can come to me with questions and that we'll dialogue about it. Often, when I learn something I go directly to her, versus waiting for her to start a conversation. I want my teen to make smart, informed decisions regarding her sexuality.” -Aesha

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“Just keep an open line of honest communication on abstinence and all forms of protection, the emotional responsibilities that come with having sex as a teenager and the consequences of failed birth control and STD protection. Lots of prayer...” -Michelle

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“I have two teen boys and honesty is everything. I'm teaching them that what you have and who you are is very special and only that special person is worthy of it. I tell them abstinence is the best, but if you do have sex please always protect yourself, because there are consequences with every act. So, if you're not ready, please wait. We need to teach our young men that their bodies are special just like the girls, after all they are the seed carriers.” -Jameka

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“I tell them that sex can be a beautiful thing when you're with the right person. That I would prefer for them to wait until they are married and that peer pressure will come eventually, but if they ever decide that sex is something they want to do before marriage, they should come talk to me so we can go over all the pros and cons again and make sure they are prepared for what sex brings. They know that when a girl hits puberty she can then have children if she’s having sex. I've also pulled up pictures of STDs on the Internet and signed them up for sexual education in school.” -Serenity

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“I continue to teach my kids about responsibility. They are 18 and 20 and If they do choose to have sex, to make sure they are responsible for protecting themselves always and not to depend on anyone else to do that for them. I urged them to be smart about who they choose, understanding as much as possible that sex with anyone is a big deal and if handled inappropriately it can cause big problems for the rest of their lives. I say continue because I started to talk to my kids about sex when they were 8 and 10 years old and never stopped. Thank God, at 18 and 20 they feel comfortable enough to now talk to me!” -Karma