Last updated on Jun 11th, 2021 at 08:49 pm

The birds and the bees becomes a lot more complex when you need to include conversations around consent and actually having sex.

Children start being curious about sex earlier than puberty and teenage-hood. From as young as six, parents are having to find age-appropriate ways to explain the concept of sex. Lying is no longer an option in a generation when kids have easy access to Google. 

Rather tell the truth than have your kids discover you lied!

The legal age of consent in South Africa is 17-years. This means, at 17, your child is legally old enough to engage in sexual activities, even with someone older than them. They cannot, however, have sex with someone younger than 17. This is regarded as statutory rape. 

It is, therefore, important to be aware of how old your child’s girlfriend or boyfriend is. 

How to have “the actual talk”?

Your teen will rarely tell you when they are ready to have sex. In a lot of cases, depending on how the relationship with the parent is, and what kind of individual they are, the conversation will happen. When they tell you, it means they are open to hearing what you have to say about it. 

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Leave the abstinence lecture for a different conversation  

This is a big decision in every teen’s life. Their peers are probably already talking about having sex. For teens, sex is even viewed as a “right of passage”. So, it is important to remove your preconceptions about sex and virginity. Listen to what they have to say and how the decision makes them feel. 

Ask the right questions 

Helping your child figure out why they are contemplating having sex in the first place is important. If they lose it for the wrong reasons, it might lead to regret later.

Are they feeling pressurised to be a part of the sex conversations amongst their friends? Is their partner pushing them to have sex? Are they feeling comfortable enough with the person they want to have sex with?

Establishing this will help direct the conversation in a way that will benefit your child make the right decision. 

Good questions to ask, according to clinical psychologist Dr. James Wellborn include: 

  • Is there a reason you are thinking about this now?
  • Have you thought about the consequences/emotions, etc?
  • What happens if…?
  • Do you know about safe sex? 
  • Discuss safety and contraception 

Discuss consequences and the risks of having sex

Teenage pregnancy is still a big issue in South Africa, and across the globe. This means that teens are having sex without taking the right precautionary measures. Make sure your child understands the importance of practising safe sex and also discussing it with his girlfriend/boyfriend. 

Understanding the consequences and risks associated with sex is important. A conversation about pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases might become uncomfortable for your child, and even you, but it remains an important one to have. 

Tell them your opinion 

According to Dr. Wellborn, “believe it or not, your opinion matters.” Your child did not just come to you for some great sex advice. You are their mom, so without saying it, they are equally looking for a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Honestly tell them where you stand in terms of their readiness and circumstances. Are they doing it for the wrong reasons? Have they known the person for too little time? Are they still displaying too much uncertainty? 

Be honest with them about your opinion, and remind them the decision is entirely theirs. 

Be honest with them about your opinion, and remind them the decision is entirely theirs. 

Be sex-positive 

Don’t paint sex as a terrible thing sent by the witches to destroy the lives of young people. Amongst the many emotions, your child is experiencing, fear of doing something taboo should not be one of them. Sex can be a wonderful thing when the circumstances surrounding it are good.

According to Dr. Wellborn, “with the right person, in the right place, at the right time, at the right age,” sex can be a wonderful experience. Tell your child this. 



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