Talking to Teens about Sex, Love & Relationships: 15 Important Things for Teens to Know

Our kids grow up and start dating. For some of us, it’s one more step on the road to adulthood. For others, it’s terrifying and elicits feelings of nostalgia because our babies aren’t babies anymore.

Talking to teenagers about sex, love and relationships can sometimes feel like walking through a minefield. Say the wrong thing and BOOM!

It’s important to not come across as if you think you know everything. We don’t. Our pasts might serve as an example or cautionary tale, but our teens are going to make their own choices.

Giving them all the information and space they need to make them–good or bad–is a fantastic way to go about it. Here are 15 lessons in love, sex and relationships to bestow on our teens.

Five love lessons for teens

1. Love yourself.

Self-love is a hard thing to accomplish with social media and marketing campaigns designed to cause doubt. Everyone’s heard of love languages as they pertain to romantic relationships, but they also relate to self-love.

Things like journaling, skin care, healthy eating, enjoying time outside in nature and doing things they love all build self-love and confidence. The more we learn to have our own backs, the healthier our relationships become and the easier it is to walk away from toxicity.

2. Love your body.

Oomph. This one is a hard one. There are so many unhealthy, negative messages out there that our teens see on the daily and it’s so easy for them to fall into the trap of self-doubt.

From the time my kids were young I emphasised being kind on the inside is better than being pretty on the outside. But I feel like I did my kids a disservice there.

If I could go back, I would raise them with this message: Kindness is important. Your body is the only one you have so look after it, and you’ll be beautiful. Don’t compare yourself to others because you don’t know what their life is like. You do you.

Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and it’s not always an indication of health. Worry less about what others do with their bodies and treat yours well with good food and fun activities.

3. Love boundaries.

Setting personal boundaries is super healthy. Boundaries can be anything including physical, emotional, social, financial, sexual, and verbal. It is completely ok, and healthy, to cut toxic people out of their life, even family. We get to decide how people treat us.

Boundaries are personal rules to help us safely be ourselves and are not meant to limit or control a partner.

4. Love your life.

Encourage them to follow their passions. Travel. Go on great adventures. Learn new skills.

5. Love hurts, sometimes.

Heartbreak is inevitable (unless you marry your high school sweetheart or be single forever). But it’s okay. Wallow in the misery and focus on things you love doing and the pain will lessen with time.

Relationships lessons for teens

Romantic relationships are a touchy topic when talking to teens. The thrill of a new love is hard to reason with. Starting early is best and the idea of a healthy relationship starts at home and school and works its way to romantic relationships.

Talking to teens about sex and love
Source: Adobe Stock

1. Know the relationship red and green flags. 

When talking to teens about relationships it’s important to discuss red flags, but equally important to talk about green flags. How someone treats others, especially others who are smaller, a different gender, weaker or animal, shows us a lot about the people in our lives.

2. Respect them, their bodies, and their decisions.  

And demand the same for yourself.

3. Relationships take work and compromise.

They should be equal, but flexible. Fifty/fifty is the goal, but you might need your partner to be at seventy because you can only manage thirty, or vice versa. Teamwork makes the dream work.

4. Don’t hurt them physically, emotionally, or otherwise.

5. If it ends, make a clean break.

If it ends, it’s for a reason. Remember that reason. The back-and-forth is not worth the pain.

Talking to teens about sex 

I’ve always been comfortable talking about sex, but I know a lot of people who aren’t. It shouldn’t be a taboo subject because our teens are going to have sex. When it comes to sexual relationships, the most important things I have talked to my kids about include:

1. Sex shouldn’t be embarrassing to discuss. 

I have a sanctuary rule in my house. Whatever my kids tell me stays between us unless they ask me to advocate for them. Because of my relaxed approach to sex, my kids don’t feel embarrassed if there is something they’re unsure about and want to ask me.

I would rather make sure my kids are prepared and have a safe place to be with their partner, than have teens who don’t feel comfortable talking about it with me.

2. Virginity is a social construct.

Being sexually active or not has no bearing on who you are as a person, your worth or your value as a partner. You don’t have to be in a rush to have sex.  Make sure you’re emotionally ready for it.

3.  Body autonomy and consent.

What consent is, and isn’t, verbal cues and non-verbal cues and how to make sure consent is enthusiastic and ongoing.

4. The importance of safe sex.

I’ve taught them about condoms, dental dams, lubrication, morning-after pills and how important it is no be confident in choosing to not have sex if their partner isn’t willing to use protection. Anyone who tries to guilt, bribe, coerce, or wear them down isn’t worth spending time with

5. The importance of communication.

Communication is the lifeblood of any relationship and if they don’t feel comfortable or safe being honest with their partner, they need to reevaluate their relationship. Don’t be afraid to be upfront if their partner does something they don’t like, be firm with their likes and dislikes but don’t be afraid to try new things if they trust their partner.

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Avatar of Tina Evans

Tina Evans is a complete introvert, an avid reader of romance novels, horror novels and psychological thrillers. She’s a writer, movie viewer, and manager of the house menagerie: three kelpies, one cat, a fish, and a snake. She loves baking and cooking and using her kids as guinea pigs. She was a teenage parent and has learned a lot in twenty-three years of parenting. Tina loves Christmas and would love to experience a white Christmas once in her life. Aside from writing romance novels, she is passionate about feminism, equality, sci-fi, action movies and doing her part to help the planet.

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