How to start talking to your parents about your first relationship

In this week’s ‘Teen Talk’ column, a young adult describes the dos and don’ts of introducing a new partner to your kids.

When I was 17 years old, I came home one day to find a woman sitting on my dad's lap in the living room as they giggled about who knows what. I knew my dad had been dating again, but not because he actually told me. It's just not that hard to figure out what's going on when your parent suddenly starts going out on weekends and talking about love again. My mom had already been remarried for a few years when my dad started dating, and neither one of them approached that subject very well with me. I felt caught off guard by both of my parents' relationships. I was happy for them and supported their decisions to look for romance, but I wish they would've handled it differently and included me in the process.

Here's the thing, parents—it is very hard to hide information from a teenager. We're tech-savvy, nosy, and (most of the time) know-it-alls, and we can tell when something's different. When you're in the dating game, there are obvious signs you give off, and even if you don't think we notice, we do. Moods are different, conversations about love and relationships change, social media activity transforms; the clues are endless. When it comes to telling your teenager that you're dating, this is my ultimate advice: Be honest and upfront, because we'll find out either way and it's better for everyone if we hear it from you.

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Tell Us That You’re Dating

If I could go back in time and sit my mom and dad down to have a real conversation that they were dating again, I would've wanted it to go something like this: My parent would say, "Hey, I know this might be weird to talk about, but I want to let you know that I want to give dating another chance. I'm not saying you need to be involved, but I want you to be aware and trust me to still give you the attention and care you deserve." I would have wanted my parents to let me know what their intentions were with dating—were they hoping to get remarried quickly or just looking for companionship for now?—and let me know if they expected me to be involved in any way. Basically, my parents would've talked to me like they would any other adult and had a dialogue about dating. Teenagers don't like to be treated like little kids, and that includes being told information that is sometimes uncomfortable and scary.

Ask If We’re Ready to Meet Your Plus-One

If you already have a partner, I'd go at it from a different angle—especially if you haven't officially told your teenager you've been dating. As I explained, it would have been ideal if you told your teen you were dating from the start, but either way, once you've met someone worth introducing to the family, it's best to ask us whether or not we're ready to meet them. Imagine if your teenager randomly brought home a stranger they are now dating to family dinner! Sure, you'd probably be cordial about it, but you'd secretly wish they'd asked for your permission first. Maybe it would have felt more respectful if they had told you about the person they were seeing—or that they were romantically speaking to someone at all. Yes, even though you are the parent, it's still all about mutual respect. Make sure your teenager is comfortable with meeting your new partner before you introduce them. If your teen isn't ready for that step, be patient and listen to their concerns as you build up that trust.

  • RELATED:Single Moms vs. Single Dads: Examining the Double Standards of Single Parenthood

Don’t Expect Us to Love Your Partner Immediately

Once there’s an agreement that your teen is ready to meet your partner, give your teen some room to choose how that will happen. Public outings are safe starts, partially because teens can feel territorial and coming home to meet this person might be crossing too many boundaries at once. Being in a more public setting can also force a degree of propriety where no one can (theoretically) cause a scene. Try going out for lunch together or shopping—something not super personal that has a built-in activity to distract from any awkwardness.

After the meeting, chat with your teen about how they will be involved (or not involved) in your relationship. To start this conversation, ask your teen, "What were your thoughts when you met? Were you comfortable? How do you feel about spending more time with this person in the future?” While you don’t necessarily need your teen’s approval of your partner or your relationship, it's still important to let them voice their feelings and really consider how this experience will affect them.

If you’re sure that your partner is going to be a serious part of your life, tell your teen—especially if you want their support and involvement. You could say, “It’s really important to me to respect how this impacts you. I know that this person can’t replace your mother/father, but I want to include you in this. Our relationship is really important to me, and I want to figure this out with your input.” If you don’t want your teen to be involved in your dating relationships, just be honest in saying that you intend to keep your romantic life and family life separate, and your teen has the right to tell you when you’re not doing that. It might give you credibility with your teenager when you trust them enough to ask for accountability. It builds honesty, transparency, and closeness.

  • RELATED:My Painful Divorce Only Made Me Want to Get Remarried Even More

The Bottom Line

Dating and introducing partners isn't easy for anyone, children and parents alike. The best way to alleviate the discomfort and build trust is by having a mature, open dialogue. Give your teenagers credibility and treat them like adults, but also give them space to process and be involved on their own terms. Most importantly, don't let dating get in the way of your relationship with your teenager, and make sure they feel recognized as you navigate your new relationship. Do your best to be a parent first and a partner second, and trust your teen in that process!

Cassidy is a 21-year-old college student whose major passion is mentoring teens and fighting for child welfare legislative reform. A junior at Boise State University, she studies public relations with a minor in political science and is an active voice in the Idaho community. 

How to start talking to your parents about your first relationship

We all want our children to have full lives. One important component of a full life is having a healthy romantic/sexual relationship with a partner. If you are a parent, this can be a scary thought because we worry about how our kids will navigate these relationships and if they will be safe from harm or cause harm to others.

Taking these steps will help your child create healthy relationships and reduce your worry at the same time.

Step one: Provide positive messages about relationships.

We live in a culture that uses fear and negative messages when we talk about relationships and sexuality. Providing positive messages like these helps your child build a solid foundation for healthy relationships: “You deserve to have a relationship just like anyone else. You can ask me any questions about relationships. You are handsome and would make a great partner.”

Step two: Discuss relationships with your child.

This list of topics can help you talk about relationships with your child.

  • What is a romantic/sexual relationship?

By explaining what a romantic/sexual relationship is and discussing what that means, your child can begin to envision what a healthy relationship looks like. You can start by explaining that when you are in a romantic/sexual relationship, it means that you and your partner have decided to be more than friends.

You might describe the concept of a romantic/sexual relationship to your child as being a friend “plus more.” The “plus more” means sexual feelings for that person or feeling attracted to that person in a sexual way. Sometimes people in these relationships refer to each other as partner, significant other, sweetheart, boyfriend, or girlfriend.

  • Find someone who is right for you.

Help your child to think about what type of person they are attracted to and how to find someone who is appropriate: Who are your friends? Is there anyone in your group of friends to whom you are attracted? They may be attractive because of how they look, how they act, and how they make you feel.

Explain to your child that the first thing to do when you are feeling attracted to someone is to figure out whether this person can be in a relationship with you. There are some people that it isn’t okay to be in a romantic/sexual relationship with such as family members, children, people who aren’t at the age of consent (you may have to look up the age of consent for sex in your state), a staff person, or a helping professional.

  • Get to know the person.

Talk with your child about how they get to know someone they are interested in by giving them ideas and suggestions like these:

  • Flirt with them by saying nice things to them like “You look pretty today” or “I like your shirt.” How do you know saying nice things or flirting is working? If the person smiles or says nice things back to you, they may be interested. It’s important to understand, though, that some people react nicely to flirting because they are simply being pleasant, but not interested.
  • Tell them you like them as more than a friend.
  • Ask them about their day or other polite topics.
  • Ask them for their phone number to text them a friendly message or see if it would be okay to call or text them sometime. If the person doesn’t respond, it’s best not to continue texting them because they might not be interested.
  • Invite them to join you in a group activity
  • Ask them out on a date.
Last step: During all of these conversations, share your values and why you believe what you believe.

What are important messages that you want to give to your child? How do you want your child to treat a partner? If you have values or expectations around dating that you wish to communicate to your child, share and explain them early on.

Youth with disabilities need and want to learn about relationships and form these relationships. Helping youth meet people and form healthy relationships is no easy task. Giving positive messages, sharing your values, being open, and discussing these topics create a strong foundation, and is a great place to start. Let them know that learning about relationships and how to have healthy ones is a lifelong process. We all learn as we go. Your willingness to talk with your child about this topic will have a positive impact on their lives.

How to start talking to your parents about your first relationship

Katherine McLaughlin, M.Ed. is a national expert and trains individuals, staff, and parents on sexuality and developmental disabilities. She teaches sexuality education to people with developmental disabilities and trains them to be peer sexuality educators. She is the author of an agency and school curriculum, “Sexuality Education for People with Developmental Disabilities.” She has developed two online courses: “Developmental Disability and Sexuality 101” for professionals and “Talking to Your Kids: Developmental Disabilities and Sexuality” for parents. She has spent her career trying to elevate the status of all people, which is why the name of her growing company is Elevatus Training.

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How to start talking to your parents about your first relationship

Thanks for your question. Lots of people wonder whether they should talk to their parent/guardian about sex. If you have a good relationship with your parent/guardian, and feel safe talking to them that’s great! Parents/guardians can have good advice that can help you have a healthier sex life.

Sometimes teens may feel awkward talking about sex with their parents/guardians and that’s normal. Here are some tips to consider when starting a conversation:

  • Consider talking about more general things first. For instance, maybe mention that some of your friends are thinking about sex, or started having sex.
  • Think about specific questions before hand.
  • Some people feel more comfortable using a TV show or something they found online to start the conversation. You can show it to your parent/guardian and use that to help start the conversation.
  • Some people ask their health care providers to help them start the conversation about sexual health with their parent/guardian.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your parents/guardians about sex, consider talking to other trusted adults in your life. This can include an adult relative (such as an uncle or aunt), a coach, or your health care provider.

How to start talking to your parents about your first relationship

Marriage is not the goal of every relationship. But it is probably fair to say that marriage is an eventual goal for many people in long-term relationships. So if you are in a relationship of any kind, it’s possible that marriage is on your mind.

Still, as with all relationship-defining discussions — like when to become exclusive, when to introduce your partner to your family, and when to reveal your astrological chart to your significant other — no one wants to be the one to introduce the topic, only to find that their timing is all wrong.

So if you are wondering when you should pop the question about, you know, popping the question, you’re not alone. Here , Dr. Paulette Sherman , an NYC-based psychologist and author of ” Dating From The Inside Out ,” explains when and how to start talking about marriage with your partner.

Two factors tend to serve as an impetus for the marriage discussion — age and children.

“Often, when people are older and in their mid-30s or later, they broach the topic of getting engaged by a year or a year and a half [into the relationship],” Sherman told INSIDER. ” When women are 35 and older, they may start thinking about their fertility window and want to know whether their partner is invested in marriage and a family. When people are younger they may not be as concerned with these milestones. Sometimes they want to live together first or just to know each other for awhile in different circumstances.”

Statistically, this makes sense. According to a study done at the University of Utah in 2015, the best time to get married in order to have a long, successful marriage is between the ages of 28 and 32. This doesn’t mean that you have to drastically alter your time frame if your own wedding plans don’t line up with that particular bracket. But it does explain why age influences how long people wait (or don’t) before deciding to get married.

If you know you want to get married, it can help to discuss it with your partner earlier in the relationship than you may think.

Still, no matter how old you are, if you are in a serious relationship and marriage is something you are thinking about, it can’t hurt to talk about it. You may be worried that doing so may freak out your partner, but Sherman says this isn’t the case. (And, if that happens, it’s probably a good sign that your values may not be completely aligned.) In fact, discussing marriage in a general sense can be a good way to bond with your partner, and to get a good idea of what their feelings on marriage may be.

“You can definitely discuss your life vision and wanting to be married and/or have kids without implying that your current partner will be the one you choose,” Sherman told INSIDER. “In fact, that is one way to reveal who you are and what you want without putting pressure on them to make any immediate decision about you. Oftentimes when you bring up your life and relationship vision in general, the other person will reveal theirs too. This at least can give you an idea of whether you are on similar pages, although it may not reveal a definite timeline.”

Honesty and openness are non-negotiable when discussing marriage with your partner.

Sherman emphasized that every couple is different, so there is no standard timeline or relationship blueprint for all couples to use. But there are still some pieces of advice that can work for pretty much every relationship.

“When discussing marriage with a partner it’s important to be honest about what you want and not to play games,” Sherman told INSIDER. “Ideally, it will be a dialogue where you better understand one another and see if your life visions mesh and can gauge your mutual feelings and compatibility.”

Once engagement plans start to appear imminent, it’s also helpful to discuss some more mundane things, like money, careers, religion, and lifestyle choices, plus “what’s most important in a marriage to you,” Sherman told INSIDER. This may not be quite as exciting as, say, discussing potential wedding venues or honeymoon plans, but it’s vital for laying a foundation to see if you and your partner are truly compatible in long-term sense.

Again, these are all suggestions.

“There is no one right way [to approach marriage], and every person can be different in terms of if, how, and when they want to discuss marriage,” Sherman told INSIDER.

But with these guidelines, it should be easy to make the theory of marriage seem slightly more realistic — regardless of your timeline

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Starting down the path of a new relationship can elicit some really wonderful feelings. It is likely to be a time you and your partner look back on one day with joy and nostalgia, as it captured the rawness and beauty of falling in love. As the honeymoon phase starts to wind down, there comes a time in every committed relationship when you start to wonder where exactly things are headed. Figuring out how to talk about the future of your relationship with your partner can feel a bit daunting, but the good news is that having that conversation is totally normal, especially after some of those warm fuzzies started to wane and you began to look at things with much-needed perspective and clarity.

It’s not uncommon for this clarity to coincide with major life events, such as graduating from college, moving abroad, or considering a job in a new city. But don’t panic; new opportunities on the horizon don’t mean your relationship can’t change shape to make room for the new additions. With a bit of forethought and the right timing, there’s no reason why you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

Dating expert Anita Chlipala talked with Elite Daily about some tips on how to best approach those stressful conversations about the future.

1. Have A Game Plan

Before you start a conversation as important as where you see a meaningful relationship going, it’s a good idea to take some time to thoughtfully examine your own desires and goals. This way, when the time comes to have a talk, you will be able to articulate yourself clearly. According to Chlipala, it may also be a good idea to even have a loose plan of what you’re going to say to avoid bad phrasing or rambling. "You don’t have to have every word planned out, but [do] have key points that you want to address," she says.

Taking the time to think through and map out your talking points is not only a good way of curbing anxiety, but it also communicates to your partner that you are taking your relationship seriously.

2. Drop Some Hints

Rather than attempting to start a conversation about the future out of nowhere, try to get them warmed up a bit by sharing some of your ideas for the future you have yet to share with them, whether that’s a dream job, how many kids you want to have, or a place you’d like to live.

Chlipala recommends starting small and more casual:

Approaching a difficult conversation where there are many different things to factor in can be much more manageable when broken down into smaller mini-conversations. When these smaller conversations eventually lead up to a larger, more in-depth discussion, you’ll already have a better idea of where they stand.

3. Start With An Activity To Take The Pressure Off

Coming right out with, "So are we going to be together forever?" can come across a bit heavy-handed, even if you’ve been together for a while. Inviting your partner to dinner with the standard, "Can we talk?" line can make the whole situation feel much more intensive than it really needs to be.

Chlipala suggests pairing a potentially difficult convo with a casual outing — such as going for a drive, taking a walk, or even going on a hike — to take the pressure off. "Sometimes, guys do better with conversations when they’re side-by-side with their partner versus a face-to-face sit-down. Start positively, saying things you love about your partner and what you appreciate about them," Chlipala says.

Starting off a tough conversation with something fun also reminds your partner why they fell in love with you in the first place. It will also help break the ice and get both of you out of your head so that you can really listen to what the other is saying.

4. When The Right Time Comes To Talk, Be Honest

It’s important to go into the conversation knowing what you are and are not willing to compromise on. Too often, people go into relationships thinking they can change their partner’s mind about any number of things they would consider deal breakers. Compromising about things like the timing of a big move or engagement is totally healthy, but be careful you’re not giving up too much.

"[Don’t give up] important things because you’re terrified of being alone for the rest of your life. You don’t want to make a decision out of fear or stay with someone who is not a good fit because you think you’ll never meet anyone again," Chlipala says.

If what your partner reveals during a talk about the future doesn’t sit well with you, then speak up. Don’t hold back your honest feelings and responses for the sake of preserving the peace. Even if your different goals seem irreconcilable, it’s so much better to know that sooner rather than later.

5. Be Supportive, Even If Their Answers Aren’t What You Wanted to Hear

At the end of the day, we can’t always have things exactly how we want. If, post-talk, you’re feeling discouraged or confused, it’s important to realize that people may change, but this doesn’t mean that they’re going to bend on major life events such as marriage or kids.

Even if you are deeply upset by what your partner has to say, it’s important to try to respond respectfully, notes Chlipala. If things are getting too heated and you need a break, Chlipala recommends "telling them that you need some time alone to think things through and feel free to remove yourself from the situation."

No one said having conversations about the future was easy, but by thinking things through and starting off on a positive note, you’ll both be able to walk away with clarity. In the end, regardless of how you both decide to proceed with your relationship, in hindsight, you’ll be glad you stayed true to yourself.

Check out the entire Gen Why series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

Our children are the lights of our lives. We all start off as parents envisioning nothing but success, love and happiness for them. However, these dreams often do not manifest because they are not getting the important things they need to become disciplined, mature and motivated adults. The following are eight parenting f*ck-ups that will guarantee your child will suffer from depression, anxiety, anger, tense family relationships, problems with friends, low self-esteem, a sense of entitlement and chronic emotional problems throughout his or her life.

1. Ignore or minimize your child’s feelings. If your child is expressing sadness, anger or fear and you mock them, humiliate them, ignore or tease them you minimize what they feel. You essentially tell them what they feel is wrong. When parents do this they withhold love from their child and miss opportunities to have open and vulnerable connections teaching them to bond and to know they are loved unconditionally.

2. Inconsistent rules. If you never talk about your expectations, you keep your child from knowing how to behave appropriately. Children live up or down to what you expect. Rules give them guidelines and boundaries to help them define who they are, good and bad. If you keep your child guessing and life is vague, they will begin to act out to find the boundaries themselves, which leads to low self-esteem and problem behavior.

3. Make your child your friend. Never share all your worries, concerns and relationship problems with your child or ask their advice. If you act helpless and defeated to your children they will never learn to respect you and will treat you as an equal or an inferior because you have used them for your own therapy. You must show your children you can stand up to problems, face your challenges and handle life through all the stress and come out on the other side. Be real, have your emotions, but do not burden your children.

4. Put down your child’s other parent. If you never show affection and love to your partner/spouse in front of your child, the child does not develop a barometer for what love is or what it looks like. If you are always putting your spouse down and rejecting him/her, threatening divorce, you create a chronic state of anxiety for your child. If you are already divorced and you remain cold, distant, bitter, angry and blaming of your ex-spouse, you are sending the subtle message to your child that your ex-spouse is the cause of the divorce and you need to be the preferred parent. This is parent alienation.

5. Punish independence and separation. When we punish our children for growing up, we make them feel guilty for having normal developmental needs and desires which often causes deep insecurity, rebellion, cutting and other forms of behaviors that indicate failure to be able to branch out and be themselves as independent people.

6. Treat your child as an extension of you. If, as a parent, you link your own image and self-worth to your child’s appearance, performance, behavior, grades and how many friends they have, you let them know they are loved not for who they are but for how well they perform and make you look good. This turns them into pleasers rather than doers, and they will always worry about being good enough.

7. Meddle in your child’s relationships. Directing every action your child takes in their relationships — from friends to teachers — inhibits their maturity. For example, if your child gets in trouble at school and you immediately rush to talk to the teacher to get them off the hook, or you are constantly telling your child how to be a friend, as your child grows he/she will never learn to navigate the sharper edges relationships bring on their own.

8. Over-protect. When we protect our children from every problem and emotion, it creates a sense of entitlement and inflated self-esteem that often crosses the line into narcissism. They expect life to be easier than it is. They want everything done for them no matter how they behave. They then become depressed and confused when they don’t get what they believe they deserve.

If you’ve been following Love in India’s romantic messages for a while, you’d know that we’ve already talked about inter-caste marriages and inter-religion marriages. Another of the most common questions I get asked by readers is “I have a girlfriend/boyfriend. How can I convince my parents of a love marriage?” I thought I’ll put my thought together on that today.

How to start talking to your parents about your first relationship

Photo by midgetmanofsteel

#1. Convince your parents of your love marriage by making them meet him/her: The first step to convincing your parents of a love marriage is making them meet your girlfriend/boyfriend. Don’t even go into any discussions with them before making them meet your special someone. The purpose of this meeting is to establish to your parents what a perfect husband/wife he/she will make for you. Coach your girlfriend/boyfriend accordingly before this meeting (Disclaimer: I’m not talking about putting up a fake face to your parents. I’m only emphasizing that they need to put their best feet forward when they meet them).

At the end of the day your parents want your happiness. If you can use this meeting to impress upon them that he/she is a perfect match for you it’ll be easy for you to convince them of a love marriage with him/her.

#2. Convince your parents of your love marriage by creating a mutual relationship: An even better thing to do however, is to introduce your girl/guy to your parents as a friend of yours, at least a year before you plan to marry. Help them know each other and familiarize with each other. Later when you bring up the question of marriage with your parents, you’re talking about someone they know very well. Hence convincing your parents of a love marriage with the person they know so well and for so long would be much easier.

#3. Convince your parents of your love marriage by giving them a reality check: Nothing is as convincing as reality. In order to convince your parents of your love marriage, give them real life examples of happy and successful “love marriages”. Don’t forget to also throw in a few examples of people you know whose marriages were arranged and have turned out to be unhappy. 😉 Cite these isntances, stating how being in a relationship with someone for some time before marriage is essential to judging mutual compatibility and consequently, to creating a better chance for having a happy life together. Which brings me to the most crucial point…

#4. Convince your parents of your love marriage on the basis of compatibility: Explain to your parents the importance of mutual compatibility and understanding in a marriage, which essentially needs to be gauged (to the extent possible) before taking the final decision. Compatibility goes much beyond castes, horoscopes, food habits, family background and financial capability. It depends on personality types, beliefs, likes and dislikes, attitude towards the relationship etc. And these things can never be even gauged without spending at least a year or two in an active relationship with each other (which you hopefully have, with your significant other). And no, the modern arranged marriage which involves fixing the date of the marriage first and spending a year dating each other next doesn’t count. This is based on the obvious fact that the time a couple spends together in a relationship before marriage is meant to aid the decision of whether to get married or not. If that decision has already been taken, any amount of pretend-dating doesn’t count.

#5. Convince your parents of your love marriage citing crucial mutual emotional needs: Different people have different emotional needs from their partners. It takes some time to gauge whether a person’s emotional needs are going to be satisfied by another person. In an arranged marriage context, there’s no way of knowing this, since the degree of emotional closeness that is required before someone can find out whether the other satisfies their needs or not, is impossible to attain before such a marriage. You need to make them see this in order to convince your parents of your love marriage.

A friend of mine was a free-thinking romantic ball of fire before marriage. She happened to have her marriage arranged to a financially well-established, dependable but rather practical and unromantic guy six years her senior. Soon after the marriage it became apparent that if he were chalk, she would be cheese. No wonder she totally changed as a person, shut herself up emotionally and is living in a mental prison ever since. Do your parents want that for you? I’m sure not.

#6. Convince your parents of your inter-caste love marriage: Of course, in some Indian families the hardest of marriages to earn a parental thumbs-up on is an inter-caste marriage. Along with all the usual challenges of convincing your parents of a love marriage to the girl/guy of your choice, this once comes with its own set of hurdles – like age old traditions, strong stereotypes held by many people, and above all, your parents’ fear of social ostracism should they allow you to marry someone from a different caste (particularly, a so-called “lower” one).

It’s not easy, to say the least.

Here are some tips and strategies thousands have benefited from, which you can also use to cope with the situation: 5 Tips to Handle Intercaste Relationships.

But what if your parents are stubborn and just won’t give in to your tricks and strategies? Here’s what: Help! My Parents Are Not Agreeing to My Marriage!

Have you ever tried to convince your parents of your love marriage to your boyfriend/girlfriend? What was the experience like? I’m eagerly waiting to read about your experiences in the comments section.

Posted May 26, 2021 under Ask Us.
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How to start talking to your parents about your first relationship

Thanks for your question. Lots of people wonder whether they should talk to their parent/guardian about sex. If you have a good relationship with your parent/guardian, and feel safe talking to them that’s great! Parents/guardians can have good advice that can help you have a healthier sex life.

Sometimes teens may feel awkward talking about sex with their parents/guardians and that’s normal. Here are some tips to consider when starting a conversation:

  • Consider talking about more general things first. For instance, maybe mention that some of your friends are thinking about sex, or started having sex.
  • Think about specific questions before hand.
  • Some people feel more comfortable using a TV show or something they found online to start the conversation. You can show it to your parent/guardian and use that to help start the conversation.
  • Some people ask their health care providers to help them start the conversation about sexual health with their parent/guardian.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your parents/guardians about sex, consider talking to other trusted adults in your life. This can include an adult relative (such as an uncle or aunt), a coach, or your health care provider.