The Talk Lasts a Lifetime: Talking to Your Son About Sex, Values, and Relationships
Parents often talk to their daughters about sex, but may forget about sons. Learn how fathers can broach the subject and make a lasting impression.
When it comes to talking about sex and related issues, parents are more likely to have spoken with their daughters than with their sons. And that lack of communication can have consequences.
Boys are probably more willing to listen to parents than you think, though. Parents say their teenager's friends have the biggest influence over their child's decision to have sex, but most teens say that's not true.
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy surveyed teens about sex. More than half of the teens surveyed said they would want to talk with their parents first if they were thinking about having sex. And they would ask for guidance on dealing with pressure to have sex.
The problem is that about half of those 15- to 17-year-olds - even those who have already had sex - say they have never had a discussion like that with a parent.
Model behavior A father's behavior serves as a model. Fathers must show what a solid, responsible relationship looks like. How you interact with women, and what you decide to look at on TV, print and the Internet, may be modeled by your son. Be sure to:
Point out inappropriate scenes on TV. Mention how these scenes can negatively influence thought and behavior. Shut off the TV or computer when you object to something. Be consistent in saying that every woman is someone's daughter, sister or mother, and that it is not OK to gawk at anyone. Refrain from viewing women as sex objects in the name of male bonding.
What boys want to know from their fathers Kids most often want reasons for why they shouldn't do things.
Help them understand why teen pregnancy can hinder life's goals. Saying 'don't have sex' is not enough. Explain why you may feel that way and ask what your son thinks. Discuss emotions along with health and safety. Start conversations even if your son doesn't seem to have questions. Things that may be on their minds are: How do I know when having sex is the right thing to do? How do I handle pressure from friends? How do I know if I'm in love? How do I say 'no?' Discuss how they may avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases through both abstinence and contraception.
Start talking about sex, love and values when boys are young. Keep up those conversations as your son grows.
Take a stand You need to tell your son what you think and why. Don't be reluctant to say:
Sex should come with commitment. I think you're too young for it. In our family, we believe that sex should be an expression of love within marriage, and I expect you to wait. You need to figure out in advance how to handle sexual situations. Everyone thinks about sex and feels desire sometimes, but it doesn't mean you must act on these feelings. Having a baby doesn't make you a man; being able to wait and act responsibly does.
Discussions on sex, love and relationships can help boys avoid teen pregnancy. But such a talk works best as part of a strong and close relationship. As a father, it's your job to teach your son about life's choices and their consequences.