If you are feeling embarrassed talking to your teen about sex education, then take the help of a medical practitioner (pediatrician) or family and relationship therapist. Bottom line is that your children need to understand that you as a parent have created a nurturing environment of trust and truth where they are free to speak about their feelings and seek guidance on how to handle them.


The mention of sex education often evokes a certain sensitivity among parents, to suggest that it is a taboo for discussion. But on the contrary, sex education is not about teaching children how to go out and have sex. According to American Academy of Pediatrics, there is no evidence that sex education will make teenagers more promiscuous. Conversely, sex education delays sexual initiation and helps teenagers make sound decisions. It can also prevent social problems, such as teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Without good sexual health education, teenagers grow up with a substantial number of incorrect ideas about sex and gaps in their understanding of it. Teenagers and young adults learn to be secretive about their feelings and explorations, because they are not free to discuss them with the adults in their lives. They feel guilty about their “normal” thoughts or actions because they are perceived as abnormal. Parents should know that sexual awakening starts anytime pre-adolescence, from 9 to 12 years old. Between the ages of 13 and 16, they have come into adolescence and are heading towards adulthood, during which period they are already thinking about sex, asking questions and needing information on decision-making, social relationships, and sexual customs. If you learn that your child is talking about sex with his or her friends, will you ask that your child suppresses such sexual thoughts? What are you going to do as a parent/guardian? This would be a perfect opportunity to give the child the deserved sex education and guidance!

Many cultures and societies do extremely well in developing guilt in children, particularly in the area of sexual behaviour. Shame and guilt are pretty effective at inhibiting behaviour, but they are even better at inhibiting openness about behaviours. Once a child masters the art of hiding things from his or her parents, the fear of dealing with those things later in life often becomes overwhelming. If a child can acknowledge these experiences to a non-judgemental parent or adult, it defuses the fear and guilt and opens up communication channels that facilitate healing and enable corrective measures. But, the longer they are hidden, the more difficult it becomes to deal with them.

As parents, it’s never too late to develop an open relationship with our children and start communicating with them in non-threatening terms. We need to attempt to stop negative attitudes where they’re destructive and replace them with a healthy, responsible outlook on adolescent behaviours, associated feelings and their effects.

When you communicate with your daughters about sex in general terms, through a means that is comfortable for you and them, they are likely to develop a healthy sense of sex as they grow. This will help them avoid problems with self-esteem. It also places them at a vantage position, preventing them from being vulnerable or subject to sexual misconduct, such as sexual assault, dating violence and sexual exploitation.

It is important to teach your teenage son that the overwhelming feelings he is experiencing about a certain girl or girls is normal at that age. It is not something he must act on and that because his friends are expressing it through actions does not make it a must do. Your son needs to know that because he is not having sex at a young age does not make him abnormal. He needs to be taught that sex comes with responsibility and if he becomes reckless, there could be dire consequences.

The fact that you do not communicate with your children about sexual feelings and acts will not keep them from having sex – but it will keep them from letting you know about it. The goal of talking to your children about sex is not to simplify it to such level that it is okay for them to just tell you about it and then go on and do what they want to do. The real goal is to inform them that their feelings are normal and that they have control over them. They should know that because their friends and peers are doing it does not mean it is a right of passage, rather it is something that has to be done with a huge sense of responsibility and understanding.

You may feel so overwhelmed by the whole issue of teenage sexuality that you would prefer to ignore it altogether. But if you do, you’ll only perpetuate the failure that has been passed down for generations – failing to help young people deal with their sexuality in a healthy, responsible way.

If you are feeling embarrassed talking to your teen about sex education, then take the help of a medical practitioner (pediatrician) or family and relationship therapist. Bottom line is that your children need to understand that you as a parent have created a nurturing environment of trust and truth where they are free to speak about their feelings and seek guidance on how to handle them.

Chinna Okoroafor, a psychotherapist, could be reached through chinnaokoroaformsw@gmail.com.