Talking with teenagers

Talking with teenagers isn't just about making sure they know about contraception and sexually transmitted infections.

Teenagers want to know about relationships, love, emotions, friends, resisting pressure into having sex. They may start having girlfriends and boyfriends.

You can talk about the many sides of love and sex and help them through this transition.

It’s important to explain to young people that relationships mean considering the needs of their partner and talking to their partner.

What teenagers need to know about

  • They should not give in to pressure to have sex if they’re not ready.
  • They should not pressure their partner to have sex.
  • Condoms – to help prevent sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.
  • Other types of contraception.
  • That it's not just about sex and biology. It’s about relationships, puberty and body-changes, love and feelings, like self-esteem.
  • Sex in the media.

If your child identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender

For some parents it can come as a shock to hear your child say they might be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Remember that your child might feel isolated or scared at being ‘different’. Your reaction will be very important to them. They may have been harbouring anxieties, fears and confusion for some time. Supporting them goes a long way.

Many parents find it easy to accept their child’s sexuality. Others may feel anger or disappointment. Bear in mind that a person cannot ‘turn’ gay or straight. A person's sexuality is an essential part of who they are.

Coming to terms with your child’s sexuality may take some time. Even if you find it difficult, it's important to show support and reassure your child you love them whatever.

Homophobic bullying

If your child experiences homophobic bullying there are a number of ways to approach this.

  • Reassure them by letting them know that what is happening to them is unacceptable and they do not deserve to be bullied.
  • Let them know you will help them. Suggest that you contact their school and, if they agree, speak to their head teacher or form tutor.
  • If the school doesn’t have a policy for dealing with homophobic bullying, Stonewall publishes a series of education guides that might help, including Effective School Leadership.
  • Stonewall also run a campaign against homophobic bullying with information for parents, carers, young people and professionals.

Other helpful organisations include Families and friends of lesbians and gays (FFLAG).

By law homophobic bullying is considered a hate crime. If it’s happening outside of school, you can ask for help from the police.