Q: At what age should I talk to my child about sex?

A: You want to talk to your children about sex early and often. Don’t make it a one-time lecture (a.k.a. “The Talk”), but instead make it a conversation that takes place several times over a period of years. However, the CDC reports that 47 percent of high schoolers say they’ve had sex. That means that if you wait until your child is in high school, it may be too late.

Q: What do I say to my kids about sex?

A: Each child is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. People have different sets of religious and moral standards and one thing that may be okay with one family may not be with another. It is important to remember the following guidelines:

-Talk early and often.

-Be prepared to answer questions.

-Listen closely to what your child has to say.

-Try using examples from popular culture—TV, movies, music, the internet—to start the conversation.

Q: How do I start the conversation?

A: Beginning the conversation is one of the most difficult parts about talking with your children. If you see sex addressed in a TV show, you can use that to spark a conversation. Also, you can start the discussion while in the car so that your child can’t just leave if they want. It’s okay to acknowledge that this topic makes you uncomfortable. Frankly, your teen, at least initially, is probably just as uncomfortable talking about sex with a parent as you are talking with your teen.

Q: What if my child asks a question I’m uncomfortable answering?

A: This very well may happen. Before you talk to your child about sex, make sure you’ve thought ahead of time how you will respond to sensitive questions. You need to think about your personal values and figure out how you would answer questions like “At what age is it okay to have sex?” or “What if my boyfriend/girlfriend wants to have sex, but I don’t?” Honesty will go a long way in these discussions, so you need to be sure you know how to respond to questions like these.


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Getting routine shots from your doctor is never fun, but getting HPV is worse.

Protect yourself by getting vaccinated. The HPV Vaccine is cancer prevention. Ask your doctor about what you can do to stay safe, or call 865-215-5000 to schedule a vaccination appointment at the Health Department.