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  • Writer's pictureJill Whitney

How was it for you? Telling teens your past experiences

Updated: May 6, 2021

Drawing of an open book with a magnifying glass and objects inside
Artist with amnesia: illustrations on this page by Lonni Sue Johnson, whose brain damage benefited memory research

When it comes to talking openly with your child about sex and relationships, a good first step is looking back and taking stock of the formative experiences that shaped you and your values. Here marriage and family therapist Jill Whitney of Keep The Talk Going suggests what you could say and explains why modelling openness makes you more relatable…

Maybe you’ve always meant to talk more with your child about sex and dating but kept putting it off. Now they’re a teen or preteen and you know you need to open a conversation but you don’t know where to start. How can you get beyond the wall of groans, eye-rolling and “I know all that”?

One way is to start with information they don’t already know – because you’ve never told them and they couldn’t have learned it at school or from friends. Tell them something about your own teen or preteen years, especially the things that were challenging for you.

There are lots of possible topics. Here are some ideas of what you might share with your kid:

“When I was your age, it was hard for me…”

“That I developed earlier/later than everyone else, and I felt so awkward”

“That I had a huge crush on _____ and she/he didn’t even know I was alive”

“Because I couldn’t stop thinking about sex and worried I might be some kind of freak”

“Because I wasn’t at all interested in sex and worried I might be some kind of freak”