Talking with Your Teen about Sex

Talking with Your Teen about Sex


By Trishia Van Orden

This is part two of a two part series. You can find part one here.

Parents play so many roles in a child’s life. One of the most important is being their first and most trusted stop for information, love, and support. Parents need to help their teens understand the world they are living in by answer their questions, helping them think outside the box, and by not being judgmental.

When it comes to sex, parents would do well to discuss the following topics with their teens: what constitutes a healthy relationship, having sex for the first time, sexual pleasure and orgasm, body image, consent, and domestic abuse. While some of these topics may seem daunting, they are vital to the healthy development of your teenager. As I mentioned in my other “Talking with Younger Kids about Sex” article, try to only focus on one subtopic at a time and just let the conversation flow. You can do this!

Points to remember:

  • Don’t put your teen on the spot. Don’t point out faults or mistakes; instead focus on having a positive and informative conversation that can help them make good choices in the future.
  • Reflect on how you feel about this topic. Does it make you uncomfortable? Are you educated on the subject?
  • What are your family’s rules, morals, goals, and expectations for this topic?
  • Be open and non-judgmental. Don’t freak out about information your child shares with you.
  • Be supportive and understanding.
  • When addressing sex, make sure that you share your personal and religious (if applicable) beliefs and values.
  • Be prepared to answer your teen’s questions about what you did when you were their age. This is a great way to bond and relate to each other. If you made what you believe was a poor choice, then you can share that with your child and explain the lesson you learned.
  • Be positive and casual. Try to share experiences and stories that will be interesting to your teen. Laugh together and enjoy the conversation.
  • Ask questions to get your teen thinking. (See below for ideas.)


ArousalA physical and emotional response that occurs because of sexual desire and/or activity.
ConsentGiving someone permission to have sex with you. Consent is given freely and without force or influence of stimulants and others.
ContraceptionCan be a method, medication, or device that someone used in order to prevent pregnancy from occurring. It is also known as birth control.
Domestic abuseA pattern of behavior that one intimate partner uses to gain control and manipulate another intimate partner. The abuse can be anything physical, emotional, economic, sexual, or mental that harms, threatens, and/or influences the partner.
Healthy sexualityBeing able to see oneself and one’s sexuality in a positive and uplifting manner. Those with healthy sexuality build their relationships and self-esteem by approaching sexuality in a responsible and dignifying way.
Hook Up SexA form of casual sexual activity in which those involved are sexually active for the sexual enjoyment and not the emotional connection. This can be a one night stand to friends with benefits.
IntimacyA feeling of connection and closeness between two people.
MasturbationThe act of stimulation one’s genitals in order to create sexual arousal and pleasure.
MonogamyA relationship in which a person is committed to one partner.
OrgasmThe peak of sexual intercourse in which the body produces rhythmic muscular contracts to relieve sexual tension.
PornographyImagery that displays sexually explicit content for the use of sexual pleasure. Pornography can be found in a variety of places including books, movies, pictures, and animations.
SextingSending, displaying, or otherwise distributing sexually explicit pictures or messages of oneself or others through mobile phones or messaging programs.


Conversation starters:

Important Note: Many times your teen will come to you with questions about sex. However, if you feel that there is something you need to speak with them about, don’t wait for them to come to you! The best part about having a strong relationship is that they can come to you and you can go to them. Here are a few questions to consider when talking with your teen about sex.

What does a healthy relationship look like?

What “counts” as sex?

How can we show affection to those we love and care about?

What will you do if you end up in a situation where things are becoming to sexual?

Can having a strong emotional connection with your partner enhance your sexual experience with them?

What are some positive aspects of sex? How do your self-esteem and feelings affect your experience?

Why might it be appropriate to wait until you are in a committed relationship to have sex?

What would your ideal situation be for your first time?

What would you do if you were invited to a party where there might be drinking and hook-up sex?

Are you giving consent if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol?

Did you give consent if you feel forced or if your “no” was ignored?

Some of the above information and questions are included in our book 30 Days of Sex Talks(for ages 12+). For more ideas, questions or information check out our books 30 Days of Sex Talks (ages 3-7, 8-11, and 12+) and How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography.

Trishia is a wife and mother of three wonderful little girls. She received her bachelor’s from Brigham Young University-Idaho in Marriage and Family Studies. She has a love for psychology and one day wishes to open her own Family Life Education Center where she lives. She also dreams of getting her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Trishia loves to be outdoors and spend time with her husband and little girls.