Sex, relationships and teenagers

Top ten tips for parents and families

Read them below or download the PDF file here.

Being a parent isn't always easy. The teenage years can be particularly difficult. Talking to your children about sex and relationships is far from easy, where do you start? Here are some tips which you may find helpful.

1) Conflict is normal

Conflict with your teenager is not always a bad thing - your teenager is learning to become independent. Try to stay calm. Listen to your teenager's point of view and decide what is worth taking a stand on and what isn't.

2) Give clear guidelines

Set out clear guidelines about what is acceptable. Tell teenager where you're going, who with and when you'll be back - expect them to do the same. Teenagers need clear guidelines just as much as younger children - setting boundaries shows you care.

3) Respect their views

Don't expect teenagers to agree with everything you say. The teenage years are a time of testing opinions and people. Sometimes parents and teenagers have to agree to differ. Your teenager is more likely to respect your views if you respect theirs.

4) Show interest

Let your teenager know that you are interested in what they do at home and at school. Offer support and guidance with school work and revision. Keep an eye on where they are and who they are with, encourage them to talk about how they feel - but beware of turning interest into pressure.

5) Spend time together

Your child is maturing and your relationship may be changing. Spend time doing everyday things together. The teenage years are exciting and enjoyable. Have fun - they'll soon be grown up. Let them know you will always be there for them.

6) Make time for talking and listening

Teenagers say that their parents do not listen to them. Let your teenager know that you have time to talk. Share your values with them but don't impose them. If your teenager wants to talk, make time to listen.

7) Give them space

We all need time for ourselves. Teenagers need their own space, time for themselves and the right not to tell their parents everything about their lives. Respect your teenager's right to privacy and try to remember what it was like to be a teenager.

8) Encourage them

Giving encouragement and taking an interest in your teenager is as important as praising them. Praise them for their efforts and let them know when they do something that pleases you. Don't be afraid to tell them that you love them, even if you get no response.

9) Share your life experiences

Let them know that you've made mistakes and tell them some of the things that you would do differently if you had the chance. Let them learn from the consequences of their actions - don't protect them too much.

10) Look after yourself

Parents today have a difficult job to do but parents don't need to be perfect. Make sure you look after yourself and have people to talk to when you need to. Try to spend sometime thinking about your own life and priorities.