It can be tough when your little ones start flying the nest. Watching your kids grow up is a privilege for each and every parent, but making sure that they are making the right lifestyle and relationship choices can be tough to keep tabs on. While you want to respect your child’s choices as they enter into adulthood, teenage tantrums can be hard to deal with – in particular if it means talking about sex. Knowing when and how to begin the conversation about periods, penises and condoms, not to mention that choosing the right protection is no easy task. It can be just as nerve wracking and embarrassing for you as a parent as it is for them, so choose your moment wisely and be honest. It’s incredibly important that your teen is aware of the risks behind unprotected sex, and why they should be being safe rather than sorry.
High school rumors and a minefield of conflicting information will make sexual relationships even tougher for your teen. Sure, with increased access to social media and online chatting with friends, they may feel that they know it all already. Cast your mind back to when you were your child’s age and don’t overwhelm your teen with too much complex and detailed medical information about STDs – it’s a scary concept to deal with. Different children mature at different rates – you might have a nine year old who is a lot more aware of sex than their eleven-year-old sibling. Remind your child that you aren’t a dinosaur and that you were once young too! Maintain an open and frank dialogue, try to keep no topics off limits, and the results should benefit you both.
Taking Time to Talk
Choose the right environment for having a chat with your teen about STDs. Don’t feel that you need to schedule in time in the bathroom to share and compare body parts! Anything can work as long as you both feel relaxed. Keep it light, funny and be prepared for the most awkward of questions no matter the time of day – kids are curious, even more so when they need to bring their own bodies and feelings into the equation.
It’s also worth considering whether or not your child’s school is providing them with a basic introduction to sexual health and relationships. Across the US, not all high schools provide an in-depth education on the subject, often resulting in too little, too late in some cases. If your child isn’t receiving an education then they could be picking up erroneous thoughts and ideas from less authoritative sources. Perhaps they aren’t aware that oral and anal sex pose risks for infection or STDs too? Or that taking birth control means they aren’t fully protected against diseases? Just as you talk to your teens about the pitfalls of alcohol and drugs, make sure that the risks posed by STDs are given equal importance.
Is your child already sexually active, or in a relationship? Now’s the ideal time to check in to make sure that they are keeping safe, happy and healthy, not just mentally but physically too. Navigating the ups and downs of your first serious relationship can be tough, not to mention teenage heartache. Are they more subdued than normal, or is something just not quite right? Take time to check in and see if your child is experiencing any symptoms. As rates of sexually transmitted diseases continue to rise across the US, are you doing your bit to make sure that your kids are using protection? Remember that peers can be incredibly influential, so make sure that they don’t follow the pack – and stick up for their own sexual health.
If your teens are sexually active, and have had more than one partner, now would be the time to consider helping them to arrange a screening or to make an appointment for a comprehensive sexual health test. Explain to them that this is an important part of their overall health and wellbeing, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of, no matter what their friends say. Explain too, that STD testing should always be something to consider as they progress into adulthood. Safer STD Testing offers a range of quick and easy referral options to ensure that your teen gets the help they need… check out their website for more information: https://www.saferstdtesting.com/free-std-testing
Don’t Panic, Help is Available
As a parent, you’re programed to deal with whatever situation or scrape that your kid gets into, so what should you do if your little darling finds that they do have an STD? First and foremost, make sure that they don’t feel guilty. Explain that we are only human and that the world won’t end if they do have an STD. Explain to your child that diagnosis is only the first step, and that STDs are pesky at the best of times – so they will need to adhere to advice from their health professional to make sure that it doesn’t keep coming back.
It can be miserable having an STD, so don’t be too hard on your teen. Itches, burning while passing urine and smelly discharge are all just some of the unpleasant symptoms, so have medication and creams on hand to help them deal with the nasty side effects. Top of their list of priorities should be talking to their partner too – explain that you don’t want to get involved as it’s their relationship and your job is to provide support. Encourage your teen to have an honest, open conversation and make sure that their partner books in for a test as well.
Once your child has been treated, be sure to check in to see what changes they have made to their sexual habits. Make sure that your child is keeping themselves safe – and keep a spare stash of condoms hidden at home. That can be peace of mind for you too.