Dear Sasha,

“My daughter is 17 years old and has a large group of friends including male friends. This is such a different culture from what I grew up in. I strongly feel she should be aware of matters of sexual health, HIV/AIDS etc. As a parent, I lack the confidence and feel embarrassed to broach this subject with her. How do I handle this?”

Dear Friend

I am always delighted when I meet a parent in my therapy who wants to have ‘the talk’ with their teenage children. It is an indication that there is a growing acceptance amongst parents that their children are in the process of growing up as sexual beings. And whether we like it or not, THEY ARE GOING TO EXPERIMENT and engage in sexual behaviour. So your acceptance of this fact is brilliant.

There is a growing body of evidence that conversations on sexual health make for sexually confident adults. The adolescence age is marked by curiosity about everything including sexuality. So just as we want to educate them in matters of morals, ethics, career, familial relations and so on, including sexual education to this list would empower them to become responsible adults who can understand their body as well.

As a parent, if this conversation is too embarrassing, don’t worry, you are not alone!. Over 90% of parents find it hard to talk about sexual health.

First of all, you need to get comfortable with your own body and accept sex as a normal part of life. Then broach the topic of health and include sexual health as one part of the conversation. You can read up about adolescent growth – which is to say that there is a simultaneous development of cognition, body and sociality and experimentation in all areas is a normal part of growing up. Then talk about responsible behaviour in all aspects and consequences of not being responsible.

It is important that you gather your courage and talk about it rather than them getting some half baked information from their friends.

Good luck!

Much love