Why do we need to have difficult conversations?

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Why do you need to have those difficult conversations? ... This section is for Parents and is about having difficult conversations about Relationships and Sex we have organised these as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why should I talk to my child about relationships and sex?
Talking about relationships with your child and sex as they get older can help them resist the pressure to have early sex and to look after their sexual health when they start having sex. National research has shown that talking to your child or young person will not make them want to start having sex.


5 good reasons to be open about relationships and sex with your child.
1. Your teenager wants the facts
A survey found that one in four (25%) teenagers feels confused and/or worried about sex and relationships, and most teens would like to talk about these issues with their parents/carers.  Yet a 2015 survey found that only 7% of males and 14% of females had received any relationships and sex information from their parents. 
2. One to One time
Schools teach the basic facts about relationships and sex but can't give them the one to one attention you can, you can make sure your child receives the information they need at a time that is right for them. 
3. Talking helps them wait
Evidence shows that if you talk to your children about relationships and sex as they grow up they are more likely to resist the pressure to have sex at an early age. It gives them the confidence to talk about sex and relationships with their partner.
4. It helps them make good decisions about safer sex
By talking to your child about contraception and safer sex, they are more likely to make safe choices when they decide to have sex and help them avoid unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
5. You can be the person they trust
There are many many sources of information about relationships and sex such as friends, the internet, schools and porn. Half of all young people included in a 2015 survey said that they received most of their information from these sources.  Some of this informaton will be wrong, confusing or misleading.  You can help stop your child sort the fact from fiction. This is a great opportunity to become someone they go to for information, help and advice.  
How to talk to your child about relationships and sex
If your child is asking questions about sex, they’re ready for truthful answers. It's never too early to start talking about it.  Click here for a video on how to talk to your child or teenager .

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Children are naturally curious about their bodies, by answering their questions truthfully you can help them understand their bodies, their feelings and other people's feelings. This is a good basis for open and honest communication about sex and relationships and going through puberty.
How much should I tell them?
It depends on your child. If they seem happy with your answer and don’t ask another question, you've probably given them enough information. If they ask another question, tell them more.
You don’t have to go into detail, a short, simple answer might be enough. For example, if your child asks why she hasn’t got a penis you could tell her that boys have a penis on the outside and girls have vaginas on the inside. This could be enough to satisfy her curiosity.
Work out exactly what your child wants to know. For example, if they ask a question, such as "Where do babies come from?". You could ask 'where do you think babies come from?'. Listen to their answer then fill in the gaps or correct wrong information. Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.
What do they need to know and when?
If young children ask questions like, 'Where do I come from?' It's important that you tell them the truth without going into lot's of detail, that way they are more likely to come to you with any other questions. If they ask tricky questions in public, you could say 'Let's talk about that when we get home' – but make sure you do. 
Primary school (age 4-11) 
Don't overload this age group with information, but answer their questions honestly but age appropriately
  • Relationships, focusing on friendship, bullying and building self-esteem;
  • Puberty, e.g. periods, voice breaking. When these changes are likely to happen and how they can deal with these. (Puberty can start as young as age 8);
  • How a baby is conceived and born.
Secondary school (age 11-16)
It is important that you talk about the following when you feel they are ready, to prepare them for school relationship and sex education and their own relationships:
  • Relationships, focusing on love and respect;
  • Focus on boys as much as girls;
  • Consequence's of their actions in relation to sexual activity and parenthood;
  • Information about different types of contraception;
  • Safe sex, STI's and where to get advice and treatment;
  • Arguments for delaying sexual activity and resisting pressure to have sex;
  • Link sex and relationship with peer pressure and alcohol;
  • How the law applies to sexual relationships.
  • Talk to them about what is a good relationship - domestic violence is rising in young peoples relationships
  • Talk to them about the dangers of sexting and the internet.
Tips on talking about sex and relationships
Many parents find it difficult to talk to their children and young people about relationships and sex, especially at the start. The following tips should help to make it easier:
  • Start early by answering questions simply and keeping the conversation going as they get older.
  • Use everyday situations to start conversations, such as a soap story line such as teenage pregnancy.
  • Start conversations when you are doing something else e.g. unpacking the shopping as its less threatening and makes conversations part of normal life.
  • If you’re put on the spot don’t panic! Try to give a simple, honest answer. You can always bring it up later when you’ve had more time to think about it.  If you don't have the time to answer or are stuck why not say 'That's a good/interesting question can we talk about it later.'  Make sure you do or it will look like you are avoiding the question.
  • Find out what your child knows already, this will help you to fill in any gaps and correct misunderstandings
  • If you don’t know the answer, say so and then find out, perhaps together, by using the library or relevant websites.
  • Identify and use words to describe sex and sexual body parts that you and your family are comfortable with. There are no right or wrong words although children do need to know the proper words such as vagina, penis and testicles.
  • Think about your own values, and the messages you want to give about relationships and sex. Let your children know what these are and why they are important but allow them to explore their own values
  • Find out what relationship and sex education is being taught in school so you can discuss what they think about the lessons and what they are learning.


  • Accept that conversations about relationships and sex will be most difficult with teenagers especially if you have not had them before, persevere even if it doesn’t go well the first or second time at least you've broken the ice. Remind them that you are always there for them if they need you.
  • Try not to lecture or preach. Young people resist being told what and what not to do, have open discussions listening carefully to what they have to say.
  • Try and understand their point of view, you may want to reassure them by sharing experiences from your own childhood.
  • Ask them what they think about waiting to have sex with someone they care about, and who should be responsible for contraception and safer sex.
For more information about sex and relationships including go to the young peoples section or click here to download fact sheets produced by the FPA.
Your rights and your young person’s rights 
Professionals working with young people will always encourage sexually active young people to talk to their parents about what's going on. However, a young person has the same rights as adults when it comes to confidentiality. This means that professionals will not tell parents when a young person gets contraception or sexual health advice and treatment. In some cases, they may decide to refer the case to social services. This may happen if there is a large age difference between the two people involved, or if there is abuse.




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