By Dan Coulter
If talking to children about sex is hard for most parents, it can be a real nail-biter for parents of kids who have Asperger Syndrome. But if you've been dreading having "The Talk," some of the reasons going through your head may not be based in fact.
Here's a parent's True or False quiz about the subject with some answers that may surprise you. Put a "T" or "F" next to each question, then see how you've done. The source for the answers is the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina.
1. ___ The media is the single most influential source of information for teens about sex, more than parents or friends.
2. ___ Teens today tend to have sex at earlier ages than their parents did.
3. ___ Your child wants to talk with you about sex.
4. ___ Having your child ask you about sex is a sign that he or she has started or is about to start engaging in sex.
5. ___ Talking with children about sex will make them think you're somehow giving them permission to have sex.
6. ___ Most people become sexually active during their teen years.
7. ___ Talking with children about sex from a young age is better than waiting to have a major "facts of life" talk when they are teenagers.
8. ___ Teens today are more likely to use condoms and contraceptives than their parents did at the same age.
9. ___ Most parents are opposed to having sex education taught in schools.
10. __ Parents who don't talk with children about sex miss an opportunity to pass on their values about sex.
1. False. In surveys, teens say their parents influence their decisions about sex more than any other source -- including the media and their friends.
2. False. Rates of teen sex are at their lowest rates in history. Which means your teen is likely to wait longer than you or your peers did.
3. True. Children want their parents to talk with them about sex and nearly 9 out of 10 teenagers say that it would be easier to avoid sex if their parents talked openly and honestly about it.
4. False. Kids are naturally curious. They are likely to ask about sex as they would anything else that they see gets a lot of interest and attention.
5. False. Research shows that teens don't think you're condoning sex just because you're talking about it.
6. True. The median age when people begin having sex is 17. While you can influence your children to wait until they are mature enough to make adult decisions about sex, you can help ensure they protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases whenever they decide to start.
7. True. Giving kids accurate information about sex from an early age, including using correct names for body parts, makes it easier for them to learn. You can create "teachable moments" when something related to sexuality appears on TV or in a song. Children are more likely to listen and learn what you want them to know if you share knowledge over time -- than they are receiving a sudden information dump. Especially if they sense you're reluctantly dealing with a subject that freaks you out. Delaying your teaching until "The Talk" means that, until then, they'll be forming ideas based on information and mis-information from the media and friends. This can be hard to overcome.
8. True. Teens are more likely to use condoms and contraceptives than ever before. Even if you want your children to delay having sex until they pass a special milestone, you want them to be among those who understand how to make responsible decisions whenever they start.
9. False. Most parents want schools to teach sex education. In North Carolina, for example, more than 90 percent of parents say they want schools to provide education about sexuality.
10. True. The best way to instill your values about sex in your children is to be open and honest with them, teach them what you want them to know, and show them you trust them.
How'd you do? If you scored a 9 or 10, maybe you should be writing this article. If you scored 8 or below, I'll bet you picked up some good input for talking with your kids about sex.
You can find more information at the excellent Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina website page: http://www.appcnc.org/resources/for-parents
Many parents are reluctant to talk with children about sex because they're concerned sons or daughters will ask mom or dad about THEIR sex lives. This is an opportunity to teach lessons about privacy. You don't have to share intimate details about your experience to talk about facts and values that will help your children make good decisions about sex. Keeping things general and keeping a sense of humor can help.
"The Talk" doesn't have to be a dreaded or embarrassing ordeal for parents or children. It can be an ongoing communication that helps make everyone comfortable and confident. You can find resources online and in bookstores and libraries that make information sharing easier. Appropriate sex education in school is a great asset.
But nothing replaces parents. And it's a good thing that the children you want to instill with accurate information about sex and with your values, are precisely the ones who are looking to you to provide them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dan Coulter is the author of the videos: "The Puberty Video for Boys with Asperger Syndrome" and "Managing Puberty, Social Challenges and (Almost) Everything: A Video Guide for Girls." Both videos are available as DVDs and downloads. You can find more articles and information at website: www.coultervideo.com.
Copyright Dan Coulter 2013 Used by Permission All Rights Reserved