The Illinois Department of Public Health has developed a statewide
campaign to raise awareness of AIDS/HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and
unintended pregnancy among adolescents. Talking about sex, diseases and
pregnancy to teenagers is not an easy or comfortable task, but it is an
important one. Teenagers today are growing up faster than ever before and,
consequently, parents need to maintain an open dialogue with their children.
Here are some tips for parents tackling the subject of sex and its
consequences in an effective and comfortable manner:
- Really get to know your child.
- As children go through emotional and physical changes, it is important to
try to understand what is happening in their lives. Frequently ask your kids
what they are thinking and how they are feeling.
- Begin with a comfortable subject.
- Breaking the ice can be a challenge. Use events from everyday life, whether
it be their friends or your own experience. Begin by discussing these
situations and then steer the conversation to personal issues.
- Be direct and honest.
- When you show that you are open and nonjudgmental, your child will be
encouraged to also speak candidly. Do not use the "birds and the
bees" terminology; instead be direct in your language choices. Your child
will benefit from learning the correct terms.
- Share experiences.
- It is helpful to give examples or stories because children have difficulty
grasping some information. Relate an experience you had growing up.
- Listen to your child.
- Stop whatever you are doing to focus your attention and listen to your
child. Make eye contact. Acknowledge what your child is saying to show that you
understand and, if you don't understand, ask for clarification.
- Encourage your child to ask questions.
- When you do not have the answers, simply let your child know that you are
not sure how to answer his/her question. However, do not turn children away
when they have expressed an interest in discussing these matters.
- Keep the door open.
- Let your child know that you are available and willing to continue the
To confidentially speak to someone about communicating with your child about
AIDS/HIV, STDs and unintended pregnancy, call the Illinois AIDS/HIV and STD
Hotline at 1-800-243-2437.
The following fact sheets on HIV/AIDS, STDs and unintended pregnancy are
Adolescents, Living in a High-risk Population:
Hispanic Adolescents, Living in a
High-risk Population : Adolescents at Risk, Statistics on HIV/AIDS, STDs
and Unintended Pregnancy, Talking to Your Kids about HIV/AIDS,
STDs and Unintended Pregnancy