How to talk to your teen about sex

It’s not a conversation most parents look forward to having, but considering over 700,000 girls will become pregnant this year, not talking about birth control with your teen would be a mistake. Whether you have a son or daughter, having open conversations about sex and pregnancy prevention can help lower the statistics.

The Candie’s Foundation is a nonprofit organization that uses pop-culture to create conversations about teen pregnancy. Their goal is to speak to teens on their level through provocative advertisements and celebrity ambassadors instead of preaching to them. On May 7, National Teen Pregnancy Day, the organization honored three celebrities, “Teen Mom” star Maci Bookout, “The Bachelor”‘s Sean Lowe and “Gimme Shelter” actress Vanessa Hudgens. We talked with all three about how to make the sex talk as least awkward as possible, for everyone involved.

Sean Lowe

Sean Lowe
The Candie’s Foundation honored Sean Lowe for being outspoken about remaining abstinent until marriage when he was on “The Bachelor.”
Credit: Provided

“My advice for parents would be to try and have an open dialog with your kid. You don’t have to preach and teach. Have a conversation that goes both ways. Get input from your kids and really understand how they’re feeling. I know a lot of times kids feel that their parents are just telling them what to do — and that makes them want to go in the opposite direction.

“My parents did a good job communicating everything with me and growing up, I always knew I could go to them with anything or talk to them. As a teenage guy, it was really comforting to know that I had my parents support no matter what decisions I was making at the time. I knew I could go to them when I had the tough questions.”

Maci Bookout

Maci Bookout
The Candie’s Foundation honored “Teen Mom”‘s Maci Bookout for her work speaking out about teen pregnancy.
Credit: Provided

“I think a great way to [talk to teens about birth control] is honestly by watching ‘Teen Mom.’ I’ve gotten tons of feedback over the years from parents saying they never would have talked to their son or daughter about birth control if it wasn’t for the show. Use me and the other teen moms on the show as an example. You can say, ‘That girl didn’t get on birth control. Maybe that’s something we need to do for you because you can see how hard it is to be a teen parent.’ Use us as a conversation starter.

“I always tell people, would you rather have the awkward conversation about birth control, or would you rather have the awkward conversation where your kid says she’s pregnant?”

Vanessa Hudgens

Vanessa Hudgens
The Candie’s Foundation honored Vanessa Hudgens for her role playing a pregnant teen in “Gimme Shelter.”
Credit: Provided

“When I did ‘Gimme Shelter,’ it was the first time my eyes were really opened to teen pregnancy. I think it’s very easy to keep it swept under rug and ignore the fact that 700,000 teen girls get pregnant every year. I lived in a shelter [to prepare for my role] and spent every day with a couple teens who were pregnant. I really immersed myself in their world. Now they’re growing up and getting on their feet. The girl I became closest to is in nursing school. She’s doing well, but it’s crazy to look back and see what it took to get her to where she is now.

“If you’re a parent, don’t be preachy. If anything, that will make your child rebel and go the other way. Any time parents say not to do something, it kind of makes kids want to do it more.”

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence



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