Lisa Dunning, MFT

Lisa Dunning, Marriage & Family Therapist Article - Birds And Bees: Have The Sex Talk

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Lisa Dunning, Marriage & Family Therapist
Parent / Child Relationship Specialist

Las Vegas Family Magazine Article - Birds And Bees: Have The Sex Talk

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"Good Parents Bad Parenting"

Good Parents
Bad Parenting

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Birds And Bees:  Have The Sex Talk
by Lisa Dunning, MA, MFT

An article printed November 28th, 2003 in the Las Vegas Sun reported: "Nevada leads the nation for teens with multiple babies. It went on to report that in 2003, "One in four teens who gave birth . . . already had at least one child. That was the highest rate in the country, matched only by Texas."

I have always advocated that parents should communicate about sex using age appropriate language with their toddlers and preteens. Unfortunately, many parents avoid talking about sex with their children until they are teens or they do not speak to their children about sex at all, hoping their children will just figure it out on their own. I have heard the argument from many of my clients that talking about sex gives permission for your teenager to participate in sexual activity. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Clearly expressing your beliefs about sex and how you expect your teenager to act and react to potential sexual encounters will generally delay sexual activity. This communication will foster healthy attitudes about the opposite sex, premarital sex and committed relationships.

Discussing sex with your teenager is not condoning sexual experimentation. You are informing your child of all available options and the consequences of those options. By not talking about sex, you are conveying to your child that there is something shameful, or secretive, in both talking about and participating in sex. It is important that your child come to you with questions and concerns they might have about sex, rather than receiving advice from others that do not have your child's best interest at heart. If your goal is to prevent your child from experimenting with sex until a certain age, or until they are married, then tell them what you wish for them and explain your reasons for your beliefs.

Many parents do not talk to their teenagers about sex due to their feelings of anxiety and embarrassment. It is important to keep in mind that the uncomfortable feeling you may experience when talking about sex typically stems from your parents inability to communicate with you about sex. If the feeling is so overwhelming that you struggle to discuss this topic with your child, I recommend finding articles about teenage sexuality and asking your child questions relating to the articles. This will allow you some insight on their views about this important issue without asking them personal questions about their experiences. My book also offers games and exercises that can lessen the embarrassment for both you and your child.

Providing a nurturing, supportive and loving environment will give you and your teenager the openness and willingness to talk about sex and can prevent sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and can potentially save your child's life.

Any of these articles by Lisa Dunning, Family Therapist may be re-published in hardcopy (magazines, newsletters or newspapers) or electronic format in websites, ezines or electronic newsletters provided the following resource box is included at the end of the article with a link to the URL

Lisa Dunning is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Specializing in Parent/Child Relationship issues, the author of "Good Parents Bad Parenting: How To Parent Together When Your Parenting Styles Are Worlds Apart" and the host of her own radio show, "Life Support". She provides marriage, divorce and parenting phone sessions to clientele across the United States and Canada and provides expert parenting advice to newspaper & magazine columnists.  To learn more about Lisa Dunning visit her website at

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Copyright 2004, Lisa Dunning, Marriage & Family Therapist - Parent / Child Relationship Specialist.