By Karen Springen and April Daley
Are your kids getting sex ed from Jersey Shore instead of you? In a new study, only 24 percent of parents felt that they were the ones teaching their kids about sex.
So who’s giving the talk, if not Mom and Dad? Kids’ friends and the media, said a majority of the 1,600 parents surveyed, reports the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Here’s how you can talk with your kids about safe sex, without reenacting the cringe-inducing scene from American Pie (in the video above):
Bring it up gracefully. Say, “I want to discuss your health,” says study co-author Ralph DiClemente, a social epidemiologist at Emory University and a professor in the department of pediatrics in the school of medicine there.
Give your kids a mini script. To make sure they get their partners to feel good about using protection—and ideally, double protection, such as a condom and the Pill—they can say, “Why don’t we be on the safe side?”
Lay out the facts. You don’t have to try to scare your kids, the stats speak for themselves. Every year, 4 million Americans get chlamydaia. There are 200,000 to 500,000 yearly cases of herpes. Mention that getting “ulcerative” STDs such as herpes increase the risk of contracting HIV, says DiClemente. Read the Kaiser Family Foundation’s report for more ammo.
Don’t rely on one talk. “It takes more than a one-time lecture to understand something complicated, yet the American public thinks that teens need ‘The Talk,’” says Michelle Barratt, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and the mother of five kids. After you have the talk, reinforce that message with conversations about TV, the news, and experiences of family and friends. For example: How stupid is Angelina to hook up with that Juicehead from Karma when she’s completely trashed?
Recruit help. Ask your child’s doctor to back you up at your kid’s next visit by talking about safe sex. Even if your kids won’t listen to you, they might listen to the guy wearing the white coat.