Advice from a Young Person on How to Talk to your Kids About Birth Control
By Olivia Sessions
Editor’s note: Sometimes, it’s all about perspectives. Essential Access intern, Olivia, offers her advice, as a young person, about how to effectively talk to your kids about birth control.
On November 13, we celebrate Thanks, Birth Control Day, a day to remember all of the reasons we appreciate having birth control options. This Thanks, Birth Control Day, I am advocating for parents to talk to their kids about contraception and provide them with resources to understand all of their options.
Talking to your kids about birth control doesn’t encourage them to have sex. In fact, it provides young people with the tools to make responsible, informed decisions about their health, wellness and future relationships.
As a teenager, I remember feeling a little awkward hearing my parents talk about birth control, but now that I’m older I’m thankful that they normalized having these conversations with me from an early age.
Here’s are some tips for “The BC Talk”:
#1. “The Talk” Should Be Plural
There’s a lot to cover when it comes to young people about birth control – from health reasons to pregnancy prevention. Don’t expect to get through everything at once – “The Talk” should be an ongoing conversation. Repeated exposure is one of the most effective learning strategies and reinforces the importance of a particular topic. This blog post by Nicole Monastersky Maderas provides guidance on revisiting conversations with your kids about topics that may seem intimidating, like contraceptives.
#2. Be humble and honest
Let the kids in your life know that while you don’t know everything, you are trying your best and will always be there for them. This can serve as a valuable way to bond and provides an opportunity for them to identify you as a resource. Connecting your child using vetted resources will discourage them from seeking answers from unreliable sources, like their peers, social media, or untrustworthy internet sites. Try directing your child to other resources, like TeenSource, Planned Parenthood, or Scarleteen for any questions you are unable to answer. Another valuable resource for parents and teens is Amaze.
#3. Visual aids
Use visuals. When talking about birth control, show your kids photos of different types of contraceptives, or better yet, bring in the actual method if you can. This will help them understand and differentiate between birth control options. Using visual or physical aids can also better engage young people who absorb information in less conventional ways. There are some great places to find images of birth control methods online like Bedsider.
#4. Inclusive language
There are many misconceptions that only people who can get pregnant (girls) should be concerned with contraception. Preventing unintended pregnancy and STDs is a shared responsibility and conversations about birth control and condoms should be directed toward everyone, not matter what gender they are assigned at birth. Try to be mindful of the language you use in your conversations, particularly when it comes to respecting your child’s gender identity and sexual orientation. In this blog post, Ellen Kate provides guidance for talking to LGBTQ children about sexual health.
#5. Work on breaking the stigma
Reconsider using words like “danger,” “risk,” or language that sounds negative. It is important for parents to work on breaking this stigma and communicate to their children that sexuality and birth control are parts of life that requires maturity, knowledge, and responsibility.
Here are some of the resources we cited as well as some additional resources for parents to help them talk to their kids:
- Talk With Your Kids Timeline and Tips
- Planned Parenthood, What should I teach my high school-aged teen about sex and sexuality?
- Anya Manes, Help Your Teen Be Prepared for the First Time
- Joanna Schroeder, Why You Should Talk About Sex With Your Kids Everyday
- Nicole Monastersky Maderas, Talking With Your Kids: How to “Re-Do” a Conversation Gone Wrong