How to Talk to Your Kids About Sexually Transmitted Infections
Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise and teenagers especially are increasingly being diagnosed with STIs/STDs. The statistics are scary with numbers reported in the millions - some 3 million plus cases being diagnosed each year among teenagers according to published studies. It is therefore important as parents that you make your kids aware of the facts and the precautions they can take. However, how do you talk to your kids about STIs/STDs? It can be tricky. As parents, it can be difficult to bring up the subject of sex or sexually transmitted infections/diseases with your kids. It can feel awkward to say the least. However, talk you must as sexually transmitted infections/diseases can potentially wreck your child's life. Here are some strategies on how to make yourself aware of STIs/STDs and then pass it along to your children so they can be aware and protect themselves from it.
As a first step, make yourself aware of all the different types of STIs/STDs, risk factors, screening methods, ways to prevent them, etc. Having thus equipped yourself with hard facts, you can opt to do one of the following or use them in combination, whichever suits you the best:
Ways Parents Can Bring Up The Subject of STIs With Their Kids
- You can, for example, wait for them to bring up a sex-related query on their own (if they are relatively younger and bring up these curious questions often), or you can bring it up in a general conversation (if they are relatively older).
- You can wait for the opportune time. There are certain moments that come up, which you can seize upon to explain about STIs. For example, if you are watching television together and a similar topic comes up, you can use that situation to broach the topic of STIs.
- You can also make up situations or create imaginary incidents of "imaginary friends or friend's children" being afflicted with STIs and having a hard time and wishing they had know the facts about STIs, etc. You can then expound on the subject.
- You can also buy resources that detail the facts about STIs. These can be books, pamphlets, CDs, other resource materials, etc. You can then leave them in places that you know your kids would notice them.
- You can engage an older relative, like a cousin of your kid, or even an older brother or sister to discuss about the topic. They may be able to relate more and be comfortable discussing with someone closer to their age.
If you find it awkward talking directly to your kids, you can opt for one of the above-mentioned alternate ways to educate them on the facts about STIs/STDs. However, do not avoid or assume they would know everything they have to know about STIs/STDs. There are many common myths about them, like the belief that condoms can prevent STIs/STDs, when in fact they don't. Therefore, it is imperative for parents to adopt ways to enlighten their kids about the facts and protect them from avoidable harm.