How to talk to your son about sex

You’ve probably dreaded this day for slightly over a decade now. It’s time to talk about the birds and the bees to your child. Few fathers want to engage in such an awkward and embarrassing discussion with their sons. In fact, some fathers are so uncomfortable that the entire sex talk consists of, “So you know about girls, right?” and a slight nod when their son confirms that yes, they do know about girls.

Fortunately for us, experts these days are saying that one “big” sex talk isn’t the way to go. Teaching a preteen or teenager about their sexuality works best as an ongoing process, beginning in childhood. Specifically for teenage boys, the most effective strategy is to keep the message simple and direct, and leave the line of communication open. For example, you could say, “Use a latex condom every time.” Direct and simple. You could continue by discussing values and respect, or even leave that for a later time. Safe sex is crucial, and we want him to remember that.

So when should you become more direct about sex? Some people don’t believe their sons are engaging in sexual activities and therefore don’t need the sex talk until they’re 16 or 17. The unfortunate truth is that our sons are kissing or even having vaginal sex as young as 9. Thankfully, that age is on the extreme side and it’s probably safe to wait until they’re 12 to 14. In the end, it’s your call.

Your social attitude toward sex is equally important. Don’t fall into the cliche of egging your son on while holding your daughter back. Young boys, just like girls, need to be given a reality check. They need to hear your thoughts and opinions about waiting and given the chance to form their own. It’s worth noting that many boys don’t respond well to abstaining for religious reasons. While God might be important in their lives, their father is a more tangible figure.

Speaking of responding well, there’s a wrong way to being direct. Avoid saying things such as, “Don’t have sex until you’re married.” while giving him the evil eye. A better way to word this might be, “I’d rather you didn’t have sex until you’re married, but I’ll respect your choices.” Yes, this sounds cheesy. But do you remember dutifully obeying your father’s commands or thoughtfully taking his opinions into consideration? We want him to do the latter, not rebel.

At some point, it’s a certainty that your son will be exposed to pornography. This isn’t a bad thing. However, porn may give them a different idea of what sex is about for women. It’s important to tell them that getting physical with a girl, whether it’s vaginal sex, oral or just making out, might mean something different, something deeper, for women. Of course, this doesn’t hold true for all teenage boys, but the fact remains that porn can send confusing messages to the inexperienced.

In conclusion, it’s important to get the message across that safe sex is the only way to go. If this means having that simple and direct conversation with him, then following it up by placing a box of condoms on his dresser, it’s worth it. No amount of reluctance and embarrassment should keep a father away from protecting his son from STIs and teenage parenthood. We also want him to know that his first time we’ll be something he remembers for the rest of his life. In other words, he’s writing his own personal history and he should be capable of looking back and being proud of it.