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How to Comfortably Talk About Sex with Your Mom
Having "The Talk" with Your Mother
Despite the fact that most people will eventually do it, sex is still a subject that makes us squirm--at least when we're talking about it with our parents. For teens, this embarrassment is heightened, especially because the act is uncharted territory. My mom never sat me down and talked to me about sex, much less engaged me in a comfortable conversation around the issue--and I never asked. I was too embarrassed to ask questions and even more mortified thinking about her answers. Instead, I figured out what those birds and bees were doing through movies, books, and conversations with friends. Here's advice I wish I had had in order to comfortably talk with my mom about sex and all its emotions and complications.
Are you comfortable talking with your mom about sex?
Talking about Sex with Your Mom When You Need Information
As abstinence is increasingly taught in schools, it becomes harder for teens to understand how sex works, much less its consequences (we skipped over that chapter entirely in health class, though we did have to write a paper on an STD of our choosing). As a result, there's a lot of misinformation about sex--and such misinformation can lead to pregnancy, STDs, and a host of emotional issues. Your mom, if you approach the subject maturely, should be a safe, reliable source of information about sex--after all, she had you! So she knows something about it.
When you're ready to talk about sex with your mom, here's how to approach it:
- Wait for a quiet time during the day and tell your mom you'd like to have a talk as two adults, and that you have some questions about sex. A good way to start would be bringing up health class, or something you recently watched together on TV.
- If you have specific questions, write them down so that you remember them--this will also help if you feel flustered.
- Stay calm--sex is natural and nothing to be ashamed of. Being brave enough to get informed is something admirable!
- Don't just ask about the physical aspects of it--ask about the emotional aspects, too.
- If the conversation is going well, ask your mom for her advice and perspective--if there are any choices she would have made differently in her youth, and what they were.
- Finally, and this is a hard one, put yourself in your mom's shoes--you've grown up fast and she still likely sees you as a child. Understand that talking about sex with you is probably hard for her too!
Talking About Sex with Your Mom When You're Ready to Have Sex
Regardless of our society's general religious or moral beliefs, it's fact that many teens choose to have sex--and it's important to make sure the choice is acted upon in as safe a way as possible. Teens who are really close to their mother may feel comfortable going to her and asking for advice and birth control help. Here's how to approach your mom when you're thinking about having sex.
- If you're comfortable enough to tell your mom you're thinking of having sex, chances are your relationship has already been open on the subject. Approach your mom during a quiet time and tell her you'd like to talk as adults.
- Explain to your mom why you think you're ready for sex and ask her what you need to do to prepare.
- Ask your mom about the consequences of sex--even if you think you've already covered that ground. It doesn't hurt to hear it again.
- Ask your mom about birth control options and methods.
- If you're a girl, ask your mom to help you schedule your first visit to the gynecologist--all women who are sexually active should see their gynecologist annually.
- Keep the conversation open, calm, and neutral--this is a charged subject even if you have a great relationship with your mom.
(Let's note here that I'm not advocating teen sex --the longer you wait, the more emotionally prepared you will be. However, for teens who do decide to have sex, it's important to have open communication with your parents!)
Get the Facts: Resources on Sex
What to Do When Your Mom Doesn't Want to Talk About Sex
Not everyone is going to feel comfortable talking to their mom about sex--and for some people, whether for religious or other reasons, it's not going to be an option at all. However, you still have choices. These include:
- Asking a friend's parent, if you're close
- Asking an older sister or brother
- Checking out a book from the library
- Asking Planned Parenthood
- Asking your own doctor, privately
These are things you should NOT rely on if you aren't comfortable talking to your mother about sex and can't find other options:
- Friends' advice, stories, and knowledge (depending on where they got it from, they may or may not have the right information)
- Forums or chats
- Random search engine searches on the topic