Mom, dad and two kids in a pumpkin patchASHA believes that open communication and solid sexual health education from parents can delay sexual activity and avert big problems later on. Perhaps most important, we believe that good communication will help you understand your child and help you and your child become closer.

We do not believe that talking about sex or sexuality encourages sex. In fact, studies show that teens are less likely to have sex at an early age if they feel close to their parents and if their parents clearly communicate their values.

Where do I start?

You’ve already begun. Very young children learn by observing their parents. They watch how you dress and how you carry yourself. They see how you interact with the opposite sex, and they notice how you react to intimacy and affection. Now all you have to do is build on their observations.

The first real step is to understand how much your child already knows about sex. And the easiest way to do that is to be a good listener. Pay attention to what your child says to friends and siblings. Then look for opportunities in everyday life to start a conversation. Remember, while we sometimes hear about having “the talk” with children about sex and sexual health, it is really a series of conversations that happen over time. Talking about sexual health is an ongoing discussion, and you can take many opportunities to continue the conversation.

When you talk to your child about sex and sexual health, use the same open, honest communication skills you’d use when talking about any delicate topic.