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I told my kid about the birds and the bees. Now I'm done, right?


Updated February 04, 2014

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Question: I told my kid about the birds and the bees. Now I'm done, right?
Some parents think that if they've had one good conversation about the birds and the bees, their work in teaching their kids about sex is done. When you're teaching teens, however, is one talk really enough?
Answer: A 2008 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that the secret to effectively teaching kids about sex is the same as the secret to comedy ... repetition. Scientists found that when parents reinforced their discussions of the birds and the bees with frequent repetition, that their teenagers:
  1. Felt more comfortable communicating with their parents, in general
  2. Felt more comfortable talking to their parents about sex
  3. Felt as if their conversations about sex were more open
Although it's also important for parents to discuss a wide range of sexual topics with their teens in order to make their education comprehensive, what seems to really make kids comfortable coming to their parents with their questions is covering the same topics over and over in different ways.

So talk to your kids about the things you think are important, and then talk to them again. If you empower them with the knowledge and confidence to make good sexual choices, they'll be more likely to do you proud by staying safe and healthy. When you're teaching teens about sex, it isn't something you can cover in just one sitting.

Schuster Martino SC et al. (2008) "Beyond the "Big Talk": The Roles of Breadth and Repetition in Parent-Adolescent Communication About Sexual Topics." Pediatrics 121;e612-e618

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