Talking About Birth Control
While many parents shy away from the birth control discussion, it may be one of the most important talks you ever have with your child. Many people assume that, if they don't have the discussion, then their child isn't sexually active. Obviously, this isn't true, and by talking to them about sex and protection, you could be saving their lives. The question, however, is how to talk to them and when to do so.
When The Time Is Right
Most parents will know when it's time to start to talk about birth control with a child. They'll hear their child talking about boys (or girls) with peers, they'll see their child interested in a girlfriend or boyfriend, or they'll see some other marker. Certainly, the exact timing will depend on many factors in your environment and on your child's development. Usually, sometime in the early teens is the appropriate time to begin the discussion.
Better You Than Someone Else
One of the best arguments for educating your own kids about birth control is the relationship building that can occur. Most people would rather know what their kids are doing and have an open line of communication with them, then have them get information from another source. They could end up getting misinformation from others as well. If you start the discussion with them, and make them feel that they can come back to you for advice and help, it can be a very positive step in your relationship and in your trust.
What Do You Say?
You certainly need to talk about STDs and pregnancy when you discuss birth control with a child. You'll want to explain what AIDS is and discuss this at length. You can give them a few birth control options and help them to understand which options are most effective, which prevent STDs and pregnancy, and more. You can let them know that you aren't condoning their sexual activity - nor are you encouraging it through this discussion. You are simply helping them to become more informed.
Where Should You Talk?
If it's most comfortable to talk at home, then you certainly can do so. You might want to look up different options on the computer or have samples with you. If you feel more comfortable having other support, you can have the discussion at a pregnancy resource center, with a your pastor, or at the family doctor's office.
Yes, You Can Still Emphasize Abstinence
Certainly, just because you are having this discussion doesn't mean that you are encouraging your child to be sexually active. You should still, in your discussion, emphasize abstinence and encourage your child to wait. Impress upon your child that education is very important, but that it doesn't have to be acted upon!
Avoid Scaring Them
Using scare tactics rarely works in a discussion of this sort. The more love and compassion that you can show while discussing these delicate issues, the better the information will be conveyed. You want to educate your child with the facts and have enough confidence in their decision making ability not to scare them, but to keep them informed and ready to make good choice.