Conversations about sex with your child can be awkward and embarrassing. And discussing sexually transmitted diseases can be doubly uncomfortable. However, it is vital to discuss sex and ways of preventing STDs with your teenagers. How do you broach the subject? Here are insights on how to start the conversation and arm your kids with knowledge on STDs:
When Is the Ideal Time to Talk About STDs?
While there is no specific time or age to talk about STDs with your kids, it is best to start the conversation early. From around 11 years old, children typically learn about sex; therefore, it is up to you to build their knowledge and help them understand the risks involved with STDs. If your child is older and you have not had a discussion on sexual health, you should have the conversation instead of ignoring the topic.
How to Begin the Talk
Many parents are hesitant to talk about sexual health because they do not know how to bring up the subject. Nowadays, you may not have to think of conversation starters because most kids ask questions about sex. Questions give you the perfect opportunity to educate them about sexual health and steer the conversation to STDs. You can also use media like movies or music to initiate discussions about sex. Ask them leading questions to find out what they know, and you can build from the basic knowledge they already have.
Once you initiate the conversation, you should be willing to talk about every aspect of sexual health and answer their questions. Most teens will feel awkward and shy when you broach the topic, but you should embrace the awkwardness and communicate in an open and non-judgmental way.
Talk About the Importance of Safe Sex and the Risks of STDs
You cannot have one conclusive talk about STDs. Instead, you should open the communication channels and make it a continuous learning process. However, before you share information about STDs with your kids, you need to educate yourself. Remember, your kids trust you, and they will believe every word you say. Therefore, you need to be careful not to feed them with any misinformation.
Your child should be aware that STDs often lack immediate symptoms and that their partners may not be aware they have the disease. Discuss the types of STDs like syphilis, chlamydia, HPV, gonorrhea, and genital herpes. Ensure that your kids know that the diseases spread primarily through sex or contact with bodily fluids. It would be best if you also covered the common symptoms of STDs like sores and discharge in the genital area.
Insist on the importance of prevention through abstinence, HPV vaccines, the use of condoms, and other ways of to practice safe sex. Your kid should learn from a young age about safe sex to protect themselves and their partners. You should also advise them to go for sexual health check-up with their partners. STDs are treatable in the early stages; for instance, chlamydia treatment can help to cure the disease if it is done at an early stage. However, if the conditions are left untreated, the effects are long-term, even including infertility. While chlamydia treatment is readily available, ask your kids not to be reckless about their sexual health. Besides, not all STDs have a cure.
Why Is STD Education Vital?
The health of your child is critical. Therefore, you have to take the initiative to guide them and ensure they make positive life choices. Talking about sex and the risks associated with it helps them to make informed decisions. Many parents presume that sex education encourages sexual behaviors, which is not true. However, you should educate your kids about STDs to ensure that they protect themselves when they are sexually active. Being open and non-judgemental about STDs will also make it easier for your children to share their concerns about relationships and sex.
If you want your child to know that you support them and want the best for them, you should be available for talks; be willing to listen without judgement. If you have a hard time discussing sexual health and STDs with your kids, you can involve their pediatrician or a counselor.