4 Tips for Making "The Talk" with Your Teens Less Cringy

mom and daughter having a talk on the couch, how to make the talk with your teen less cringy

4 Tips for Making "The Talk" with Your Teens Less Cringy

Having “the talk” is not about checking something off of our parenting to-do list. Instead it is an act of love, an intentional invitation. Showing our kids we show up for the little and big conversations, reminding them we are a safe space and aren’t afraid to talk about anything with them.

I was born in the ’80s, a millennial, my parents both baby boomers. I’m not sure if it was a generational thing or the fact I grew up in a mostly conservative Christian home but I never experienced “the talk.”

I remember learning about puberty and periods as a 5th grader in a class my school offered. My mom was skeptical of letting me attend so she attended the class with me – not embarrassing for a fifth grader at all. However, despite her concerns, I think she found it easier to let someone else explain the workings of the female body than have those conversations herself.

Like many conservative Christian homes during the time I grew up, we never talked about sex, except for in the context of abstinence and being told to wait to experience it until after marriage. I’m sure the lack of communication from my parents on the subject was somehow a form of protection on their end, but the truth is the ball was dropped, and silence can be the most harmful form of education of all.

As a mom to three now, I do understand the difficulty of knowing how and when to talk about a complex topic such as sex. I also can appreciate my mom taking the time to attend the class and make sure everything was discussed and taught accurately even though I found it completely embarrassing at the time. I know the busyness of life can make it extremely hard to be intentional, especially when it comes to hard conversations. Yet, this may be the biggest problem of all. When viewing “the talk” as a heavy topic, we set the stage for how our kids view this topic.

Instead, we must normalize sex and its beauty within God’s creation. We must set the stage early, be open and available. Over-share opposed to under-share. We must make an effort, again and again and again.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/fizkes

mom talking to teen girl on her bed

4 Tips for Making “The Talk” with Your Teens Less Cringy

1. Don’t have “The Talk”

If you are having “the talk” with your teen for the first time, more than likely there will be squirming, and not just on their end. When viewing something God created for good as a once and done subject, we are doing a disservice to our kids. Sex and surrounding subjects should be an ongoing conversation. One that starts from a young age and continues as they grow, age appropriately.

This could look like using proper terms as your four or five year old learns about their different body parts. Or when asked how babies are born, not dodging the conversation but acknowledging it honestly the best way for the child's age. If you aren’t ready to answer the question, be honest, tell them you need some time to think about the best way to answer. Try to get back with them within a day or two.

2. Don’t Be Vague

Don’t be vague. Lean towards over-sharing than under sharing. It may feel weird at the moment, but wouldn’t you rather them know more than try to fill in the blanks themselves, from friends, or worse, the internet.

Something happens in your relationship with your kids when you open up about this kind of stuff. They may not reciprocate your openness eagerly, but come eventually when they have a question, at least you will have already opened the door for them to come to you. Our job as parents isn’t to force them to come and ask but to make it known we are there for them.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Ryan McVay

<strong>3. Don’t Settle on One Subject</strong>

3. Don’t Settle on One Subject

There is so much to talk about these days, it isn’t just how babies are made and born. No subject should be off limits: porn, puberty, sex, marriage, lust, ext. Since this shouldn’t be a one-conversation deal, and several subjects fall underneath the umbrella of “the talk,” maybe treat this like a weekly date. One day every week make a mental decision to play hoops or take a walk while talking about a subject.

By talking through all things surrounding sex we inherently begin to normalize it in healthy ways. It produces more conversations because there is no way all the things can be talked about in one conversation. When teaching your child, remember the 'why' is just as important as the 'how.'

4. Don’t Sit Down for a Conversation

I love deep conversations, I often feel like I’ve “fixed” something or “checked” something off of my list after having them. To me a deep conversation is one where everyone sits down and has eye contact. However, this is bound to make talking through some of these issues with your teen or children more cringy.

Hands-on activities are best for starting these conversations. Then, in the silent and quiet moments you have opened the door and offered up an invitation for further conversations. If you have a son, maybe talk through some of these subjects while shooting hoops. If you have a daughter, maybe you craft or paint your nails while talking.

Or maybe have a designated trip where the purpose is to create a few consecutive days to open conversation surrounding the topic. We have three kids, and we decided early on that we wanted to have a “coming of age” trip at ten. A time for our kids to get away with one parent and have open conversations about growing up. The kids get to choose where they go, we had one son who wanted to go to Boston, and another who chose Universal Studios, and our daughter who isn’t ten yet is already excited and planning her trip.

The point of these trips isn’t how fancy the trip we can make it. It could be done by going camping just an hour away. The trip is more about setting aside a larger amount of time to talk. That way if a question comes to surface a couple of hours later you both are in a comfortable environment for your child to bring it up.

Even When You Feel Like They Aren’t Listening

Remember, even when you feel as if they aren’t listening, chances are they hear you. Don’t base your persistence for intentional conversations off of their reactions. You may feel discouraged, and honestly take that as evidence you are showing up. Continue to do so, pray and ask God for guidance as you go forth addressing these conversations with your teen. Think of this as a way to love your kids well.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Katarzyna Bialasiewicz

sarah nichols headshot 2Sarah Nichols is a writer who loves to encourage women by sharing hope-filled stories that point others to Jesus. She lives in Kansas City, MO with her high school sweetheart and their three kids. You can find more from Sarah at her blog sarahnicholswrites.com and on Instagram @sarahnicholswrites.