- Although this may feel like a scary conversation, it’s best not to panic. If your child is asking you about STIs, it is a good sign they trust and value what you have to say.
- Don’t feel like you have to know all of the answers right away. It’s okay if you don’t know how to answer their question.
- Below are some conversation guidelines that may help:
- Acknowledge that you have heard the question, “Thanks for asking me” or “That’s a good question”
- Do not respond angrily, with accusations, or with judgement. Remember, if your child is asking you about STIs it means they value what you have to say.
- If needed, ask a clarifying question. Depending on the age of your child, they could’ve just overheard something and are curious or are wanting to learn more about STIs. Example clarifying questions include: “Why do you ask?”, “What have you heard about STIs?”, “Did you hear or learn something recently?”
- Do not judge or shame whatever your child does or does not know about STIs. Use this time to understand where they are coming from and how you can best answer their question.
- Respond to their question with an age appropriate response like:
“An STI is a type of infection people can get when having sex or engaging in sexual activity. People can lower their chance of getting an STI by practicing abstinence or using condoms and getting tested for STIs if they are sexually active ”
- You don’t have to know everything about STIs. In fact, it’s okay if you do not know everything and admit that to your child. By doing so you can encourage your child to continue learning about STIs and pregnancy by finding an expert together. Try:
“You know I don’t know a whole lot about it though. Why don’t we look at a good resource online together” or “I don’t know a lot about STIs myself. Let’s schedule an appointment to talk to a doctor together.”
- Thank them again for coming to you and let them know you would like to have more conversations together like this one.
- Follow through. If you told your child you would like to read online together or visit a doctor, actually make it happen. Do not put it off or think they will just forget about it. You want to position yourself as the trusted and reliable source of information.