A recent study on parent-child talks about sex reveal something that may startle some parents - 40% of teens reported that they had already had sexual intercourse by the time their parents sat down to talk with them about sex.
141 families were involved in the study. Parents and their children, aged 13 to 17, responded to questions about 24 issues regarding sex and sexuality, including how women become pregnant, body changes that occur during puberty, how to use condoms and birth control, as well as issues around homosexuality.
By the end of the study, more than half of the parents reported that they had not discussed 14 of the 24 sex-related topics by the time their adolescents had begun genital touching or oral sex with partners. Forty-two percent of girls reported that they had not discussed the effectiveness of birth control and 40% admitted they had not talked with their parents about how to refuse sex before engaging in genital touching. Nearly 70% of boys said they had not discussed how to use a condom or other birth control methods with their parents before having intercourse. Yet only half of the boys' parents, by contrast, said they had not discussed condom use or birth control with their sons.
Previous studies have shown that when teens talk with their parents about sex, they delay their first sexual experience and show more responsible behavior when they do engage in sexual behavior.
Experts say that parents need to start having talks about sexual behavior and responsibilities earlier and to remember that just talking about it once won't be enough. Parents need to keep an open and continuing dialogue with their kids about sex, and change it as the kids grow so that it remains age-appropriate.
Need help knowing how to talk to your teen? Here are some resources: