The average age of “sexual debut” (what a term!) in the UK is 16 to 17, but bear in mind that virginity is a social construct – the idea of “popping your cherry” is a thing of the past. People often define first-time sex along sliding scale of sexual experience
Children whose parents talked to them about sex at a young age do not have sex earlier – but they do have safer sex, a North Carolina State University study shows
Almost 4 in 10 young people have started seeing someone they met first online, according to Brook’s Digital Romance report. Read it to come to terms with how your child might be moving fluidly between technology and face-to-face in their romantic relationships. It’s not all bad…
We agree with Scary Mommy that it’s never too early to start talking to your children about sex (in simple terms, with spiralling levels of detail as they get older).
To give your kid a shot at being a good engineer, when would you start teaching them to count?
Our children want a close bond with us, including less punishment and threat and more everyday talks about relationships, says Brook’s Digital Romance report.
They want to hear from us about the positives, not just the negatives, of sexual relationships. So try talking…
Be aware that you need to communicate your family’s values around sex to your child. It’s important to let them know what sexual behaviours and attitudes you feel are OK (and not OK) so that they can be informed, feel positive and make good decisions, advises Cath Hakanson of Sex Ed Rescue
“We’ve been taught that the hymen is some kind of freshness seal on the vaginal canal… [but] for most women, there’s nothing to break. The hymen expands and contracts. The hymen is not a predictor of virginity”
5 Patriarchal Myths I Bet You Believe – Anya Manes (Talking About Sex)
“Never ‘If you ever…’ The only productive ‘if you ever’ statement I can think of around sex and teens is something like: ‘If X ever happens, I hope that you’ll come to me, knowing and trusting I will [do my best] to be supportive’”
Young people describe their parents as influential relationship role models: 75% of young men, for example, cited their parents’ relationship as one they admire in FASTN’s Love, Lust and Loneliness report.
This means they need to observe healthy behaviour from you!
Our favourite of these illuminating Top Ten Resolutions for Parents Talking to Teens About Sex (it’s an oldy but a goody) is about giving kids a sense of bodily autonomy and healthy boundaries:
Practise what you preach by allowing your children privacy and respecting their boundaries. It’s a vital part of consent…
Parents are often afraid that if they share details of their own adolescent sexual experience that somehow it will translate into a permission slip to go have sex. Quite honestly, kids aren’t seeking your permission. You’re not opening the door; you’re guiding them through their innate sexual curiosity
Keep your eyes on the prize – young people who know their values, who believe themselves worthy of love, who feel good about their bodies, who see pleasure as a means to build intimacy and connection with another
– sexuality educator Al Vernacchio, from his book For Goodness Sex
More help with #Sex&Relationships
Remember: every child is different. Adjust these suggestions for the age and stage of your child. Children with special educational needs and disabilities, looked-after children and children who have experienced abuse may all need different support.
If you’re in doubt about your child’s emotional, physical or psychological development, please seek the advice of a professional