Talking to Your Children About Sexual Health Education

Why should you talk to your kids about sexual health topics? 

We encourage YOU as parents to talk with your children about all of these topics as well! We as medical professionals play an important role in educating your children about sexual health and healthy relationships, but this is a team effort and parents play a CRUCIAL role!

  • Parent-child communication about sex, birth control, and pregnancy leads to delayed initiation of sex, decreased frequency of sex, and increased condom and contraception use (reference)
  • Almost 9 in 10 teens (87%) reported that it would be easier to postpone sexual activity and avoid pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations about these topics with their parents
    • 38% of teens said that parents most influenced their decisions about sex vs. 22% said their friends most influenced their decision. (reference)
  • Review of multiple studies shows that conversation about sex with parents plays a protective role in safer sex among adolescents (reference)

What strategies can parents and guardians use to talk to their kids about sexual health education topics? 

  • Provide the facts (Be clear about the question they're asking) – if you don’t know the answer, don’t make it up! Suggest looking it up together.
  • Find natural openings to initiate conversation: “teachable moments”
  • Be present: Listen well and avoid distractions
  • Ask follow-up/exploratory questions and then ask some more: motivational interviewing- let THEM do the thinking
  • Normalize: “lots of kids your age…”
  • Emphasize that you are a resource if at some point in the future attitudes/feelings change
  • Share your opinions (non-judgmentally)
  • Respect privacy and autonomous decision making
  • Emphasize safety.
  • Keep communication open: Use different modes, like texting

Use the acronym ABLE

A: Always try to answer the question

Ask for more time if not sure: “That’s a good question. I’d like a little time to think about what I want to share with you. Can we talk about it tonight?”

B: Be Brief
L: Leave the door open for more questions:

  • “What do you think?”
  • “Tell me more about why you feel that way?”
  • “What else would you like to know?”
  • “Did I answer your questions?”
  • “Could you imagine this happening to you? Why?”

E: End with a supportive comment:

  • “I appreciate your coming to me and I’m always here to try and help you with answers to your questions.”
  • “Thanks for asking me. I value your coming to me with questions like this.”
  • “Thanks for asking my opinion. If you ever feel you can’t come to me or your mom/dad, I hope you’ll go to ________ (name of trusted adult).”
  • *It’s important to recognize that teens are widening their circle of trust and may not come to parentsà this is okay, normal, and good!

Resources for Parents and Guardians



Resources for Students


  • Videos on lots of different topics including puberty, personal safety, healthy relationships, and pregnancy
  • & Articles on reproductive health, puberty, nutrition, mental health and more
  • Resource for learning about birth control options
  • Love Is Respect: How to recognize abuse and how to reach out for help using the Love is Respect national hotline and chat line