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Sexual health Talking with kids

Children will face many difficult decisions about whether to be sexually active. Pamela Wilson, M.S.W., urges parents to prepare young people to make those decisions. “Children are separate human beings who get into different kinds of relationships and have different experiences,” Wilson says. “What you can do is to try to arm your child with information, self-understanding, and skills so they can make decisions that are good for them and right for them.”

Dr. Barry Zuckerman, Chief of Pediatrics at Boston Medical Center says that no matter what your values, talking openly with your children and explaining why you have certain values is important. “One of the worst things parents can do is give their adolescents absolutes like, ‘Just don’t have sex’.”

“In a young person’s world, the message is exactly the opposite: ‘Sex is fun’ ‘Everybody’s doing it.’,” Dr. Zuckerman says. “Adolescents need to know what their parents value and why. By explaining the reasons, parents convey respect for their children, which goes beyond giving absolutes as if they were rules. When children hear information in the context of this respect, the information is more likely to be effective.” In other words, your children are more likely to follow your guidance.

Words Can Work suggests these tips for having healthy conversations between parents and young people.

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Share your values. >
Remember: you communicate with words and expression. >
Listen. >
Know the facts. >
Fathers have a vital role in raising sexually healthy children. >
Children’s sexuality education is an ongoing conversation. >

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