Many parents fear this uncomfortable situation, how to talk to their teen about sex after finding condoms in their room. It makes sense that a teen might want to hide their sexual experiences from their parents, so how does a parent breach this touchy subject? We’ve got the step by step guide that will help you manage this critical parenting moment.
- Don’t Overreact
The best advice is to keep your cool. Even if you don’t approve of your teen having sex, you won’t be able to stop them. We recommend that you try not to raise your voice, act upset, or try to use this opportunity to control your teen. If you put your teen down, they might be more inclined to do the opposite of what you say, and make even riskier choices. This is especially risky if your teen shows a pattern of defiance.
- Bring up the Conversation Casually
Your teen might shut down if you bring up sex talk abruptly. Instead, we suggest that you simply ask your teen about boys or girls in their life and see if things are going well. Listen carefully for how much your teen wants to share with you, or if there is some indication of a physical relationship, but try not to make any assumptions. We think you should bring up safe sex like it’s no big deal with no reference to the condoms. You could try saying, “I don’t know if you are or you aren’t having sex, and I’m not saying that should or shouldn’t be experimenting with it, but no matter what, it’s important to remember how to be safe.”
- Decide If You’ll Bring up The Condoms
When it comes to announcing that you’ve found the condoms, you have two options. You can either bring up the condoms when you’re taking about safe sex, or try to dodge an embarrassing moment and let them know in a subtler way.
If yes, you might want to ask your teen if they’d be willing to talk about it. Tell them what you found and explain some of the ground rules you might have about sex to see if you can influence them to stay safe.
If no, you can try this technique to get your message across. Try leaving the condoms out somewhere your teen will see them, like on their bed, as a reminder that it’s not a secret, but it’s not your business. This way, you can open up a conversation about safe sex without being too intrusive about their sex life.
The most important thing to talk about is safety and remind your teen about how to treat a sexual partner with respect. Finding condoms can prompt this conversation, but know that you won’t be able to control whether or not they have sex. This is why we think you can decide to bring up the condoms if you want, but it’s not necessary. The ultimate goal is to reinforce lessons about safety.
Many parents fear this uncomfortable situation. We’ve got the step by step guide that will help you manage this critical parenting moment.
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.