Tough Talks: Sexuality

The teen years are often filled with talking, hearing, and learning about sex. It’s a time of exploration, but can also be a time of risky decisions. Having an open and honest discussion with your teen will help them to be informed, and make safer choices. 

Although they may be learning about teenage sexuality and relationships in health class, there are so many topics that aren’t discussed. As a parent, you have the opportunity to dive deeper into this topic outside of school, and answer any questions your kids might still have. Here are some of the topics you should be sure to discuss when talking to teens about sex.


It’s so important to ensure your teen understands that respect is a huge factor in a relationship with anyone. A healthy relationship, whether sexual or not, should always be built on respect. Let your teen know that they should respect their partner enough to have the tough conversations about what the other person wants and needs, and they should receive the same in return. If someone is pressuring them into something they don’t feel comfortable with, that person doesn’t respect them, and knowing that will help them to make healthier decisions. Remember, the best way to teach your teen about respect is to show it to them. 


Not only is it important to respect others, but it’s also so vital to respect yourself. Your teen is likely exposed to portrayals of sex and relationships in the media, and because these aren’t always accurate, it can really warp their view of themselves. Talk with them about the importance of self-esteem as a precursor to sex. If they don’t feel confident enough to stand up for themselves, it can result in unsafe situations, so be sure they understand their own worth.


One of the key areas to discuss with your teen is that sex should always be a choice. Although they may feel the pressure from classmates, friends, or even their partner – choosing when, how, and with whom they want to engage in sexual activity is up to them, and no one else. This includes discussing what morals and values your teen holds, and how they can best make the choice to stick to them. Let them know you are there to support them and their choices, as long as they are making them safely.


This is one of the most important conversations to have with your teen. If they have all the knowledge they need to stay protected, they’ll be able to make much safer decisions. Be sure to discuss contraceptive options including the benefits and risks of each method, and the risks of sex overall. Talk about what could happen if they were to get pregnant or get someone pregnant, how to protect themselves against STDs, and how to talk to their partner about these risks as well. 

Remember, it’s not just about talking to your teen, it’s also about cultivating a healthy relationship with them. Having an open, honest, and respectful relationship will allow them to learn by example, and will help them feel more comfortable coming to you, which will ultimately help them stay safe.

Tilly’s Life Center aims to equip teens with the knowledge they need to make the best decisions possible. Through the program, they’ll build confidence and self-esteem, and learn how to avoid peer pressure, so they can feel secure in their relationships. To learn more, visit: