family sexuality educationI’ve been spending a lot of time recently talking with and thinking about parents as sexuality educators. I initially got into sexuality education with the goal of working with parents – and then the parents I was working with started asking me to teach their kids instead of teaching them. It was disheartening.

It’s been almost a decade, though, and I’m finding that parents are starting to come around again. Not only is there renewed interest among the parents contacting me in enthusiastically stepping into the role of sexuality educator, but they are also more willing to meet and talk with me at length about how to do that effectively. I’m so encouraged that I’m writing a book!

So I was really thrilled when I came across a lesson in Positive Images that’s for teens on how to talk with their parents about sexuality. The disconnect is as much an issue for young people as it is for their parents, but it’s rare to see a conversation about how to expand dialogue with parents happening with youth.

Encouraging Communication within the Family

By the end of the lesson, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify reasons why parents do not talk with their children about sexuality and contraception.
  2. Identify behaviors that encourage and discourage adolescent–parent communication.
  3. Discuss whether communication between parents and their children would help develop responsible sexuality and discourage unwanted pregnancy and infection.

Research consistently indicates that most parents do not talk openly with their children about sexuality. Communication can be especially difficult during the adolescent years when teens are establishing independence from their families — sometimes through sexual activity. Yet studies show the importance of parent–child communication because youth are more likely to delay sexual intercourse, use contraception, and have fewer sex partners when parents communicate about sexuality. This lesson helps participants examine family communication about sexuality and explore ways to initiate discussion on sexual issues.


I would love to hear what your experiences are, working with youth, and what they say about their parents. The research in this area suggests that the conversations aren’t happening as much as anyone wants them to be. Maybe this lesson could give your students and their families a little boost!