Teen Talk:Difficult Conversations with Your Teenager

Dear Parent,
Sex, Drugs, STDs, HIV, AIDS are all subjects that most parents have difficulty bringing up with their kids. Think back to when you were a child. Who told you about sex? Was it a friend? Was it your mom or dad? If so how did they handle it and what information did you receive? Was this information accurate? Or did you learn about it on your own as you were experiencing your first relationship? What was your religious upbringing? Were you told that sex was dirty or natural? Were you told to wait until marriage? Or did your mom bring you to the doctor and to have you put on birth control? Or did your dad hand you condoms and pat you on the back? Our own teenage experiences often have a great impact on our parenting. We may agree or disagree with our parents on how these subjects were presented or ignored. So before you venture into these difficult conversations with your child or teen,

#1 Get clear about your own morals and values.

How do you feel about 16 year olds having sex? And what is the difference between that and 18 year olds?

What do you think about kids smoking marijuana?

What do you think about underage drinking? 18, 19 or 20 year olds? When is it okay? When is it not?

#2 Educate yourself about the issues you want to discuss with your kids.

Get on the internet and bring up articles about current trends for youth. Make sure that you have the most up to date information about the areas that you are focusing on. Remember, not only are you providing parental guidance but you are also passing along knowledge that your child will need to make thoughtful and appropriate decisions about his or her emotional and physical health.

Get savvy with their language. (Kids don’t call marijuana “pot” anymore.)

Do you know what the following are? If not, look them up!

*DXM, Syrup heads, Dexing, Triple, Special K, Crank, Antifreeze, Crunk, Snow, X, Georgia Home Boy, Roofies, Kibbles and bits, Cheese, Candy flipping*

#3 Make Time to Talk To Your Child

Once you know what you want to talk about and have done your research it is time to If you are nervous or anxious about having this conversation, acknowledge this. “This is really hard and uncomfortable for me to speak with you about, but I am your parent and I need to talk with you about…” Be prepared that your child may react negatively to you or say that they “already know all that…” Proceed anyway. Give your child printed information or websites to back up what you are saying. If your child argues with you, tell him/her that you would be glad to hear what s/he has to say, but first s/he must research the topic and present it to you just like you did.

Don’t wait too long to have these conversations. Kids are experimenting with sex and drugs earlier and earlier. The younger you start the easier it will be to continue bringing it up. A great conversation starter might be after you and your child have seen a movie with sex or drugs being part of the content. “What did you think about that movie? What did you think about the choices that Josie made? What would you have done? Do you have any questions about anything that you saw?”

If your child ignores you or doesn’t want to talk about it don’t give up. Keep looking for opportunities to bring up those uncomfortable issues. Soon you will notice that it isn’t so awkward after all!

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