How to talk to your parents about sex
From child to adult
You're becoming an adult, independent of your parents in all sorts of ways - including your love life.
Your parents may worry. They may feel you're going too fast and doing too much too quickly. It's tough for them, coming to terms with the fact you're growing up. Here's what you can do to help.
1. Build trust. Keep your word about going out - and when you're coming back - and build trust in small ways. Tidy your room - then see how their view of you changes! That way, if any big issues arise, they'll be more ready to see that you are in control and are going to be sensible and generally okay.
2. Talk about your relationships as they develop. If you feel free to talk about your boyfriends or girlfriends as you get to know them, they'll feel happier if there comes a point when you put your relationships on a sexual footing. That doesn't mean you tell them when you do have sex - just as you probably don't want to hear the details of their sex life. Still, they'll probably have a pretty good idea of what you're up to.
3. Turn the tables. Ask questions about their relationship. How did they meet? What sort of things did they do when they were first going out? When did they decide to get married? What other relationships did they have before they knew each other? This will help you to think of each other as older and younger - but equal.
4. Express your worries. You might raise the issue of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This does two things. It flags up the subject of sex - and of you as a sexual being. It also shows you know to behave responsibly.
5. Your parents did it too! Remember that you exist. It is therefore profoundly unlikely that your parents have not had sex.
6. Show you're in love - but only if you are. Where parents can see that you're involved in a meaningful relationship, they may be more ready and able to treat your love life and sexual development with greater respect.
7. Tackle issues - not your parents. Present arguments, offer thoughts and reason with your parents. This is very different from stropping and having a row. It might take time, but you will be proving you're an adult by being so.
8. Enjoy family life. Do things with your parents voluntarily from time to time. They'll still feel they know you, that you are a part of the family, and this will help them understand and value your independence.
9. Respond cleverly. If they say, 'I hope you don't do that,' don't feel you have to say 'yes' or 'no' Talk around and about the issue instead. Open their minds a little - and little by little. Bear in mind they might feel obliged to instruct you - for what they think is your good - and are probably just trying to do that.
10. Discuss your friends' sexual behaviour - censored to whatever extent you feel appropriate. This tells your parents that people your age are engaging in sexual behaviour without it being directly about you. Leave them to join the dots up themselves.
But not tacky. Say hi and ask what they're doing this weekend - and have a plan to suggest you think they'll like.
Relax and think: getting to know you. Rather than: getting it