Every parent in the world wants to slow down the time when they need to talk to their child about the “birds and the bees”. But no matter how awkward it may be, it is one of the most important lessons we need to discuss with our children. As role models, we know that our teenagers will soon transition to adults and they must be well-equipped with information on responsible sex, including STD prevention.
STDs are rampant nowadays. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in the 20 million new sexually transmitted infections diagnosed each year in the US, 50% of them affects young people aged 15-24. Simply not discussing the elephant in the room will not make it go away.
Responsible sex includes responsible birth control for males and females. That topic deserves a post (or several posts) of its own. This article aims to help parents in educating their teens about STD prevention. No matter how cliché it may sound, prevention is always better than cure especially in the case of STDs.
Teen STD Prevention Tips for Parents
- Do The “Talk”
By this time, teachers have already stepped up and Sex Education is a familiar topic for teens. More or less, the subject is not new to their ears. However, it does not mean that we can just press skip and hope that what they learned at school sticks. It will not hurt to arrange a discussion about sex and STDs with our teens. “But will it make a difference?” you ask. Studies show that teens who report talking with their parents about sex are more likely to delay having sex and to use condoms when they do have sex. So, yes! It does make a difference.
Also, in national surveys conducted by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, results show that parents have the greatest influence over their teen’s decision about sex. It is also noted that most teens say that they share their parents’ values about sex and being able to talk openly and honestly with their parents can help them make decisions about delaying sex easier. Your honesty and openness may save them from making mistakes that can endanger their health.
As parents, we want to avoid this topic like the plague, but sex is a normal part of human life. Without it, you and I will never have this discussion now. We will simply not exist!
- Be Empathetic and Do Not Pass Judgment
Let’s think about the time when we were the same age as our child. Just like how we had hesitations about discussing sex with our parents, our teens also find it is so hard to open up about sexual experiences or even ask questions. What hinders open communication is the fear of judgment. You can remove this barrier by letting your teen know that there will be no judgment on your part and that you only want to make sure that they are protected from STDs so they are able to make sound decisions about their sexual health when they become adults.
Do not overreact. This is the stage where our children are most emotionally sensitive. We do not want to make them feel worthless or pass judgment of promiscuity. By being empathetic to our children and being able to talk to them openly about the topic of sex and STDs, we maintain open communication where trust is established. They will feel safe in telling you about their experiences and in sharing with you questions they may have.
- Take Extra Time to Make Them Feel Loved
This is perhaps the most practical tip in this article, and yet the most important one. A study shows that adolescents who feel connected to their parents and their family are more likely than other teens their age to delay initiating sexual intercourse. Other studies also show that young people report fewer sexual partners, fewer coital acts, and make use of contraception because their parents made an effort to know who their friends are and where they frequently go. As parents, exerting efforts and giving our teens undivided attention can go a long way.
- Educate Them About The Importance of Getting Tested Regularly
The stigma that goes with STDs is still undeniable. As a result of insufficient or late medical attention due to embarrassment and self-blame, certain types of bacteria that cause infection have grown resistant to antibiotics. As some STDs have no obvious signs or symptoms, getting a test done is the best way to make sure that your son or daughter is not affected.
Take the time to educate your teens that once they become adults, they need to get tested for STDs regularly, especially if they don’t have mulitple partners. By encouraging them to do a regularly scheduled screening, we help them understand that they should not take any risk when it comes to STDs.
- Encourage Them to Go to Healthcare Professionals For Regular Preventive Care
Once our sons and daughters become adults and engage in sex, we should let them know that there are ways to prevent themselves from getting infected with STDs. It is always a good idea to give our teens an opportunity to converse with healthcare professionals. If possible, it is more desirable to let them talk to doctors and nurses alone.
This will serve as a time for them to talk confidentially regarding issues that they may be concerned about. Instill to them the importance of being completely honest to these healthcare providers – AT ALL TIMES.
Parting Words on STD Prevention
The topic of STDs is not to be taken lightly. I hope that you keep in mind the tips that you have learned in this article. We can stop STDs from spreading and affecting the lives of our loved ones by being involved and being proactive when it comes to their health. Together, we can stop the spread of STDs and protect our teens by educating them early on about safe sex.