Sex and Tweens
Cohen, Ilisa, Working Mother
You've pur off having "the talk" with your middle schooler, thinking there's no rush. Or is there? "One in five kids has sex by the time they're 15," says Laura Berman, PhD, author of Talking to Your Kids About Sex. And 40 percent have intercourse before discussing safe practices with their parents, according to survey results published in Pediatrics. Frank talk with your kid about sex may make you uncomfortable, even scared, but it's not as scary as having a kid who is pregnant or has an STD.
If you feel awkward, let your child know, adding that it's a must -have discussion. "Seize teachable moments," suggests Dr. Berman. There are likely sexual themes in the media she follows - music, TV shows, magazines, online. Listen, view and read together for an easy entry point to conversation: "Those guys on Jerse)' Shore seem to have sex with a lot of women. What do you think about that?" Then ease into talking about her experiences - whether she and her friends have discussed sex, if any of her friends have had sex - and any questions she may have.
Most likely she already knows about body parts, intercourse and baby making from you or another source; now remind her of your family values and go on to discuss STDs and pregnancy prevention. Like most tweens, she may think she already knows everything, but even if she does (not!), there's always room for review. Her future depends on it. - llisa Cohen
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