Help! I Need To Talk To My Teen About Sex & Condoms!
Melissa White, Lucky Bloke's CEO and our Chief Condom Expert, shares her thoughts about preparing your teen for safe sex.
I know you may be (very) uncomfortable talking to your teen about safe sex. As a mom myself, I can assure you we've all been there.
Most parents are not comfortable thinking about their teens having sex, much less talking to them about it. Also, social norms and religious beliefs make things more complicated and more emotionally charged. However, I cannot stress this enough, this is most likely the most important conversation you will have with your teen ... as it has the power to truly save their life.
As responsible and caring parents, we share our opinions on a range of topics. We monitor media, teach healthy eating, and immunize our babies. But, once our children hit the teen years, a lot of parents clam up and don't know what to do or when to do it. It makes perfect sense, as very few if any of us were ever properly educated on condoms and sexual safety ourselves. But, it is up to each of us to break this pattern and the overall health of the next generation truly depends on it.
Now, you need to realize that you cannot rely on your child's school to talk to your teen about condoms and protecting themselves. And, avoiding talking about safe sex is not going to keep your teen from having sex. So, the best gift you can give is to arm them with the best information possible.
Here are three statistics you should know:
- Most teens think that you can visually tell if someone has a sexually transmitted infection (STI), which is not the case.
- One out of every four sexually active teens currently has a STI.
- One in every two sexually active youth will contract a STI by age 25.
If you are struggling with your own comfort, my first suggestion (in making it more comfortable) is to make the conversation as non-personal as possible You will have an easier time talking to your teen about condoms and your teen is going to have an easier time listening if you are speaking in general terms.
Second, focus on the health aspect and impart information. If your teen isn't comfortable or ready to talk about this, save the need for dialogue for a different day. Below is an example of what I mean. Please take this concept and customize it for your own situation. I will use the name Tom, but in choosing a son, I'd like to add that this conversation is just as important for daughters, as females are often on the receiving end of guys' excuses about why they don't need condoms. I also recommend making notes, or at least have bullet points, so you are sure to cover all of the points you want to make.
Tom, I read something really surprising today and I want to share the information with you. I'd just like you to hear me out. I am open to answering your questions if you have any, but mostly, I'd just like you to hear what I have to say. I am sure that you have heard it is important to use a condom.
Then you would discuss the statisics I provided. For instance:
I was really surprised to learn that most teens think that you can visually tell if someone has a STI. This is absolutely not the case. Further, one out of every four sexually active teens currently has a STI, and one in two sexually active youth will contract a STI by age 25.
When I was young, most STIs could be treated with antibiotics, this is no longer always the case. Your generation is going to have to be very aware condoms and how to properly use them more than ever before.
Now, a recent international study by the Kinsey Institute found that 80% of condom users are improperly using condoms. I didn't even know that was possible. But it is pretty important to know, because if a condom user isn't wearing a condom properly it defeats the purpose.
The study also stated that the most common errors include putting on the condom too late and taking the condom off too soon, not leaving space at the tip, and using a non-compatible lubricant. I also learned that many of the errors are related to wearing the wrong size condom. I never knew there were three different sizes of condoms; I always thought one-size-fits all.
Anyhow, if the condom feels loose or slips around or it is too big it might be more comfortable and safer to use a slimfit condom. If the condom feels too tight and restrictive it is too small perhaps it would more comfortable and safer to use a larger condom. However, 50% of men can use the standard size condom sold in most stores and passed out at most schools and clinics.
When a man is wearing the proper sized condom, there is much less chance of becoming one of the 80% in the study. Also, sex is more enjoyable and safer when wearing the proper size condom.
Now I understand this might not be the easiest conversation you have ever had, but you are providing important information that is generally not offered in high school health class.
This first talk should begin to open the dialogue between you. I would suggest circling back. You may even want to consider sending your teen an email as well before the conversation to provide an overview of the most important information you wanted to share. This may give you both a little more space to insure that the information is properly shared and received.
If we can provide further information or support, Lucky Bloke offers a free Condom Concierge Service via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Condom Concierge is trained to offer comprehensive support regarding proper condom sizing, as well as sharing comparative information regarding product specifications and attributes. They are also very happy to support you as you navigate through any condom issues.