You are the best person to help your child understand and make good choices. Teens may be embarrassed, look bored, or groan, but sharing what you think and what you expect of them does make a difference. The time, attention, and support you give them makes a difference. Research shows that teens view parents as the single most important influence in forming character and values and in sexual decision making.
Kids want to hear from their parents! Building a strong bond with your child will help you be able to talk plainly with them about sex. Create a positive, healthy relationship with your child through one-on-one time, doing activities together, and supporting their hobbies. Help your child build self-esteem by complimenting them on what they are good at and expressing your love to them.
Share your goals, beliefs, hopes and values – they are important to your teen. They are some of the strongest reasons for the sexual choices teens make. You can guide your teen to develop the values of honesty, responsibility, and caring. Share your family’s values with your teen and encourage service to others and the community. When parents are clear about their own values and share them with their children in an open manner, their children are more likely to delay having sex. Values about education, marriage, and trust are more easily “caught” than “taught.” You and your behavior are the most valuable educators!
Many of today’s parents were teens when they began having sex. If you made poor sexual decisions when you were young, you can still guide your own teen to healthier choices. We know more today than we did then about STDs and the consequences of sex at an early age. Studies have shown that religion and spirituality have an effect on goals and values in many families. If your family is involved with a church, mosque, synagogue, or other faith group, encourage your teen to take part with you. Teens who are involved in religious activities are less likely to have sex early.
A goal is something you want in the future, but are willing to work toward right now. Talk with your teen about preparing for the future. There are two questions that every teen asks: "Who am I?" and "What do I want to do?" As a parent you can help your teen answer these questions. You can help your teen build their own values and identify their own goals. Do you know if your teen has goals? Do you know what they are? Ask your teen about their goals for marriage, family, and a career. Do they want to go to college or trade school after high school, or get a job?
Is there something they love to do? Ask them about their goals for jobs now and in the future and what their plans are to prepare; then listen and offer support. If your teen son or daughter has hope for the future, they are more likely to make healthy choices. Setting goals in life is an important step in growing. You can help your child have goals related to healthy relationships and education. It’s important to be there for your teen, and talk with them about the future.