Should Parents Talk to Their Teens About Sex?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of both books mentioned in this post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links are also used in this post. You can read my full disclosure here.


Parents need to be talking to their tweens and teens about sex.

Why Tweens?

The reason I include tweens is because I hit puberty when I was in the 3rd grade, before it was even taught in schools. The worst part was it happened at camp. 

I was shy, or so I always told shy, but the truth was I probably had social anxiety even back then and was too scared to talk to anyone about what was happening. I used toilet paper and went through all my underwear. Even when I got home, I didn't say anything, just threw it in the wash in hopes that it was done and over with and everything would be alright.

The next thing I remember is my mom taking me to the doctor because she had found my dirty underwear. The doctor explained that it was most likely my first period (which I didn't really understand or know what that was, but it sounded normal so I was okay with that). It was another 2 months before it happened again, and this time my mom had provided pads and thus I entered womanhood. 

It wasn't until 4th or 5th grade that I got any sex education in school, but many schools wait till as late as 7th grade, which is late for many girls and leads to the first reason why parents need to talk to their kids about sex.

Reason 1: Schools Wait Too Late

As I mentioned in my personal story, I hit puberty before it was even taught in school, and my parents also failed to prepare me for what was to come. It was a scary experience as I had no idea what was happening with my body and I went through it alone. 

It would have been nice to have known beforehand what changes I would experience so I wouldn't have been so blindsided, and even nicer had someone explained a bit more than just here's some pads, you're going to bleed once a month now, welcome to womanhood. 

Reason 2: Sex Education in Schools Isn't Always Reliable

The number one reason and main reason parents need to talk to their teens about sex is because many schools only teach abstinence-only. This was especially true when I was growing up and it failed me.

I remember the videos of the body changes and discussing body parts and puberty, but no teacher actually taught or showed us how to use a tampon, so of course, a condom was out of the question. I think one teacher even told us to just "follow the package instructions."

Then, of course, there was the scare tactic of STDs and showing us real-life images. Basically, they did whatever they could to prevent us from having sex, rather than telling us or showing us how to have sex. 

So sadly, most of what I learned about sex was through friends, movies, and yes, porn And as we most of us know, these are not the best resources. 

Because of my lack of education, I was easily manipulated by an older guy when I was 18. I shared my #MeToo story last year, which you can read here. And because of that experience, I was more cautious when it came to sex and have only ever been with my husband.

It wasn't until I became a parent myself that I began to look into "healthy sex" as I don't want my daughter to experience what I had, which is where Shafia Zaloom's new book, Sex Teens, & Everything in Between, came to the rescue.

Talking to Teens About Sex

Sex Teens, & Everything in Between

Sex Teens, & Everything in Between by Shafia Zaloom is a must-read for every parent. Heck, even as an adult, I learned a lot from this book. 
Her book focuses on consensual and ethical sex (healthy sex), which is what I believe all sexual experiences should be. A lot of people like to make consent seem easy with "no means no" and "yes means yes," but there's more to it. Like I used to believe my first sexual experience, no penetration, was consensual because I did agree, but I was coerced into agreeing and the guy was older, so it actually wasn't consensual. 

Zaloom provides excellent tips throughout her book on how to talk to teens about sex. I love that she also includes examples and real stories to show what healthy and unhealthy sex looks like. Though the book is geared towards helping parents talk to their teens about sex and consent, I feel teens would benefit from reading this book on their own too. For a more teen-centered book, I highly recommend Planned Parenthood's book, In Case You're Curious, which I will discuss next.

I would have loved to have Zaloom as a teacher when I was growing up. Unfortunately, that time has passed for me, but now with the help of her book, I can be the teacher I needed for my daughter. I know sex education has changed in many schools from what it was when I was a kid, but I also know many still stick by their abstinence-only programs, so I can't trust the school system to prepare my daughter for healthy sexual relationships.

In Case You're Curious

Planned Parenthood's new book, In Case You're Curious, is aimed at teens, but I learned some new things myself from reading this book, mainly because as I mentioned above, schools didn't (and many still don't) like to talk about sex when I was growing up. 

In Case You're Curious goes through commonly asked sexually related questions by teens. Questions are unaltered to keep it authentic, so slang is used. Though it answers a ton of questions, like:
"What's an orgasm?"
"How long do periods last?" 
"Do babies come out of the butt?"
"How do I tell my family I'm a Lesbian?"

The book does not answer everything and encourages teens to talk to a trusted adult should they have any questions not addressed or want to discuss more of what they have read. There is also a list of trusted websites towards the end of the book that teens and parents can both visit for more information.

While there is a whole chapter devoted to questions about consent, it doesn't touch on ethics. So while this book is great at answering sex-related questions, I would still recommend Shafia Zaloom's book, Sex, Teens, & Everything in Between for teaching teens about and how to have a healthy sexual relationship.

You can find both of these books in my Amazon Shop.