Happy Sexual Health Week 2018!
As the Youth Officer at WAAC, part of my role involves talking to young people about sex (woohoo!) For many people though (especially parents) just the thought of talking to a young person about sex is enough to cause them to break out in a cold sweat!
Talking about sex is so important – we want our young people to know that they can come to us for advice and support; it can be a platform to strengthen our relationships, build trust, share our values, and ensure our young people are getting balanced and accurate information.
To celebrate WA’s Sexual Health Week, I’ve put together some tips to help parents and carers speak with their young people about sex in a positive and supportive way.
ü Consider your own values, attitudes and feelings about sex – For example, do you have particular cultural or religious beliefs? Are you in a same-sex relationship or perhaps a single parent? What values and messages do you want to pass on?
ü Be open and non-judgemental - Remember not all of our opinions and experiences are the same. Try not to make assumptions (for example, assuming a young person is heterosexual). Refer the young person to speak with someone else if you feel unable to listen and speak without judgement.
ü Knowledge is power – Educate yourself on current sexual issues and topics such as masturbation, homosexuality, contraception, pornography etc.
ü Stick to the facts – Avoid scare tactics and provide accurate information. Be honest if you don’t know something; try to find out, or help them to find out for themselves.
ü Use the correct language – Using accurate and consistent language (penis, vulva, scrotum etc.) helps to avoid confusion.
ü Start the conversation early – Simple routines such as bathing or using the toilet can provide the opportunity to introduce topics like nudity and privacy.
ü Lots of little conversations, often – Rather than a single ‘birds and bees’ talk, speak with your young person regularly.
ü Take advantage of opportunities – Don’t wait for your young person to bring up the topic of sex or sexuality. TV shows or current media can provide opportunities to open the conversation. Are you watching ‘Married at First Sight’ or ‘The Bachelor’? Take the opportunity to discuss what a healthy relationship may look like.
ü Keep it positive – Avoid using too many DON’T conversations. Instead, role model positive behaviour and self-respect for your young person. Sex and sexuality is fun! Be genuine and be prepared to have a giggle.
Any questions? Want to discuss things further? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Health Promotion Officer - Youth Programs